Want to nationalize American health care? Just compare what it’s like to be treated in America and in Britain. Writes F. Brinley Bruton:
A few weeks ago I found myself curled up in a hospital here in London, my feverish body shaking violently back and forth. The pain in my side and back made it hard to straighten my torso, and I’d thrown up in a friend’s car on the way to the hospital.
The hospital couldn’t find an extra hospital bed, so I spent my first night hooked up to an IV on a gurney in the middle of a row of men and women, my sweaty skin sticking to the plastic. A shriveled woman in the bed to my right issued loud and largely unintelligible commands to nobody in particular. A steady flow of patients visited the bathroom right in front of my bed. A shouting match broke out between some of the nurses and nurses aides until a man at the other end of the room yelled, “Could you please take it outside? I’m trying to rest.”
Sometime in the midst of this I was diagnosed with pyelonephritis, a severe urinary tract infection that had spread to a kidney, and ended up in the hospital for three nights. I had already been on two courses of antibiotics, but that hadn’t cleared up the initial infection. Finding myself sick and alone thousands of miles away from my mom was bad enough, but scarier still was just how familiar the illness felt.
The U.S. system makes us pay more than we should. But the starting point of any reform should be to build on its strengths, not adopt the weaknesses of other systems.