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Don't Diss the British National Health Service

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by Ben Cohen

Here is Glenn Beck and British conservative politician Daniel Hannan on the horrors of socialized medicine:

This is patent nonsense. Of course there will be specific instances when Americans are more likely to survive certain diseases, and horror stories about overcrowding in crowded British hospitals.

But this has nothing to do with the overall effectiveness of health care in Britain, and the disastrous health care system that fails to insure millions of people in America, and bankrupts many more. British health care is not perfect. I have spent many hours waiting to be seen for unimportant ailments in the waiting rooms of inner city hospitals. But I have also seen members of my family treated for very serious ailments with the utmost professionalism and dedication. If you get seriously sick in Britain, you will be treated and given access to the best doctors in the world without incurring personal cost.

It is true that generally speaking, you will be seen faster in American hospitals for minor ailments. But that doesn't make up for returning home to a bill for several thousand dollars for an arm sling and a bottle of pain killers. And as for serious problems, the treatment in America may be the same, but in Britain, you won't have to pay. In the States, you may lose your house.

The fact is, the United States ranks 37th in the world for health care, behind Columbia, Morocco, and Costa Rica, while Britain ranks 18th. The top 10 nations in the world for health care all have socialized systems, while the worst are privatized. Life expectancy in Britain is 78.7 years, while life expectancy in the U.S is 78.06 years. In the U.S, medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy, while in Britain, it would be completely unheard of.

Britain can certainly improve its health services. They are far behind countries like France and Italy, and should do more to cut waiting times and treat easily preventable diseases. But the system is incomparable to the U.S one, where literally millions of people are tossed out of hospital because the can't afford it. The British politician lamenting his countries health care system should try a county hospital in a deprived U.S city. We'll see how much he likes privatized medical care. I suspect it won't be very much.