Health care and socialised medicine: a dilemma

Today I went for the bloodwork that the new doc insists I need before getting a new prescription for my painkillers. I’ve got no objection to doing it because it probably is sensible to monitor me – if my kidneys do pack up, I suspect that detecting it before symptoms appear is better than after.

I’m a very firm believer in state health care. You might call it a religious fervour, almost. My grandparents went bankrupt at least once (that my mother knows of) due to the costs of caring for two children with osteogenesis imperfecta, one with rhuematic fever and a thyroid disorder and all the common childhood ailments before there was socialised medicine in Canada. Nobody should have to go bankrupt and sell their home to pay for the treatment of severe illness in their children. It’s why my mum ended up in England: my grandmother was a war bride so she used her British citizenship to move the family to England when Mum was 17. The NHS was able to offer free care for the boys with OI, decent schooling for the one young enough to still need it (he’s now the owner of his own company despite severe disability – all that free care gave us a high-earning and high tax-paying man so I call that triumpth) and when my grandparents got sick they were able to afford their own treatment.

As a believer in state care, I didn’t feel right about the idea of paying to have my bloodwork done just to save a bit of time so I went down to the local hospital very early this morning.
Er, I may be paying the next time. It wasn’t that it was a bad experience – the nurse was good and efficient when I finally got through and the bruising isn’t too bad. It’s just that it took nearly two hours to be seen and, despite being there before the sun rose, I was still very late to work. Yes, my work gives me paid time to attend to medical issues but I don’t want to take advantage of that in case I need more frequent appointments later in my employment. There is no way to know how I will be in a year or two, after all.

A girl at work has told me about a place that takes evening appointments and apparently I can even pay to have a nurse come out to me at home – I could work from home for a day, take a ten minute break while the nurse is there and not lose any work time at all.

The question is whether I can bring myself to pay for a service just for the convenience. There is a part of me that worries that paying for normally free services so that they fit into my life will, over time, allow governments to charge for those services as standard ‘because people are willing to pay’. I’m already watching the UK government attempting to introduce elements of private medicine to the NHS template and it makes me sick. As the USA finally wakes up to the immorality of people going without care because they cannot afford it or losing everything after a cancer diagnosis, am I undermining the ideals of socialised medicine by considering paying for services that can be provided as quickly (if not as conveniently) by the state?

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