What Americans need to hear about free health care

I am angry and dismayed

by the media and their willingness to give the loudest voice to those who are against the proposed change to a free health care system in the US. I am reading so many stories that are simply not true, many of them putting down the

British NHS (National Health Service

).

Some of the latest writings describe a system under which the government plays God, deciding who lives and who dies. Whilst it may be true that under the

NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence)

system not all newly developed treatments can be rolled out, but it is a careful balance rather than the murderous state the haters of reform are making it out to be.

I want to give an example of why the NHS is so wonderful, and why Americans need to talk to those people who live under such a system - find a

Canadian

if you can't find a Brit! They are only next door.

In the photo are Rebecca and Bailey, my twin daughters. This was taken back in June 2003 a few days after their birth. Let me explain those first few weeks to you.

On June 2nd a problem was discovered with the pregnancy, nothing too serious but Bailey (only known medically as T2 at the time) had not grown in 2 weeks and her bigger sister, T1, was leaching all the nutrients from her. There was also a knot in T2's umbilical cord and so an emergency c-section at 35 weeks was essential.

(Earlier in the pregnancy it was spotted that the girls were

monoamniotic and monochorionic

and so we had been having scans every 2 weeks. There are no charges for the doctors appointments, the scans or the follow-ups. Nothing.)

So late at night on June 2nd their mum was prepped for surgery. In attendance was a surgeon and his assistant, an anaesthetist and his assistant, a paediatrician for each twin, and 2 paediatric nurses for each twin - including their mum, me and girls, there were 14 people in that room at just after midnight.

Now it's true we had not met the surgeon before. Lindsey did not get to choose him or his team. And even if this was not an emergency she still would not have been able to choose the surgeon (although this is starting to happen more under the NHS). But this was an emergency, the guy seemed to know what he was doing and we were underway.

How many Americans in that situation - one of the most emotionally horrific hours of my life - would be having to calculate their

copay

, having to call an insurance company or worst still, wondering what their house was worth because it was going to get taken off them to help pay the bill.

All we had to care about until 01:19 AM was our girls. There were no costs to worry about, no bills to pay.

When they were born there were some minor complications, T1 had to be resuscitated. But both were treated on the spot, packed up into incubators and rushed down to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit). After an hour I was allowed down to see them to find the 2 tiny things you can see in these photos. Again,

I didn't have to worry about what treatments I could afford or not, all I had to do was sit there and watch as some of the world's best health care was going on around me for the sake of my kids.

They spent just over 4 weeks in total in the SCBU unit, and thankfully did not have any major problems. Other children were far worse off, and some sadly don't make it, but all were cared for to the best of that team's ability, and apart from always struggling to find vests small enough for premature babies, the team did not lack the equipment or training they needed.

And what did it cost us when we finally got to take them home? A lot of grey hair, a box of chocolates, some flowers and a donation of 30 premature baby vests.

That's it! There was no worrying when we got home that bills were going to start flooding through the letterbox, that we were going to lose our house or that we would have to compromise on their treatment. In fact the hospital proactively sent someone every week for a while to check on the progress.

Free

.

Within the context of health care, FREE is the most powerful word. Free means you do not need to compromise. Free means everyone can go get help when they have chest pains in the middle of the night instead of worrying about their insurance, free means that lump will actually get checked.

Free means less people die

.

I would never claim the NHS is perfect. It is a complex system catering to 60 million people. It is internally political, it is sometimes mis-managed and there will always be horror stories of when the system fails.

But if I can give you just this one story to try and balance the utter garbage that the US media is feeding you with then job done.

I have 3 girls who are all alive today thanks to the NHS. How is that a bad thing?

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