Health

American doctor compares UK healthcare with the US: ‘No co-payments, no preauthorization, great resources’

After having to use their services for a second time, an American doctor’s praise for Britain’s National Health Service is getting quite a bit of attention.

After having to use their services for a second time, an American doctor’s praise for Britain’s National Health Service is getting quite a bit of attention.

Two years ago, Dr. Jen Gunter first wrote about her experience with Britain’s healthcare system when she had to take her then-11-year-old son to the ER for an eye injury. The post was viewed over 450,000 times.

This past week, Gunter, who is an an obstetrician based in the U.S., took her cousin Helen to the hospital after she twisted her ankle from walking on cobbles while in high heels. Gunter was amazed at the speed and quality of care her cousin received, saying that she “was triaged immediately. Within two minutes a nurse checked her ankle, gave her codeine, and then sent her off to an urgent care clinic.”

“To receive this care all my cousin had to do was provide her name and birth date,” Gunter wrote in her most recent blog post.

“No copayments, no [pre-authorizations], no concerns about the radiologist or orthopedic surgeon being out of network.”

Aside from an “unavoidable”hour wait for a special fracture clinic and 30 minutes of travel to the hospital, Gunter recounted that it only took about 4 hours for her cousin’s ER visit and care to wrap up.

Comparing her experience with healthcare in the U.S., Gunter said the ER visit at a hospital in Sunderland was far-removed from the American experience, where some patients have to save money for two months before they can afford the $100 co-payment for a scan to see of their cancer has returned.

“And what if her CT scan is equivocal and she needs $100 (or more) for the copayment for a lung biopsy?” Gunter wrote, reminiscing about one of her patients. “If that’s not a circle of Hell I don’t know [what is]. You want to know what’s worse? I’ve heard a variation of this story more than once.”

Gunter closed her piece with a message to people in the U.K.

“Dear U.K., the NHS is awesome,” Gunter wrote. “Try to treat it a little better. Maybe teach kids in school how to use the health care system (hey, why not NHS ed alongside drivers ed or sex ed?). Have safe sex. Stop smoking. Try to lose weight if you need to (obesity causes 30% of cancers). Wear lower heels for dancing.”

“The next time anyone mentions privatization or user fees tell them in America there are people trying to save enough money for the copayment for the CT scan that will tell them if their cancer has returned or not.”

Featured image: Dr. Jen Gunter and her cousin Helen, via drjengunter.wordpress.com

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