The good news is that the Doctor said I was fairly healthy, the bad news is that he said I had the “English Disease”.
No, not that disease, my new American doctor says we English all have a vitamin D deficiency.
My first introduction to the US Health system started a month ago. If you are not aware, the American nation spends twice as much per person on Healthcare as the UK, or France, Germany or Sweden. But the system in the US is very different to the UK, with the majority of cover here being private, as opposed to being funded out of taxes in the UK. There is a complex set of partial “safety nets”, but it is estimated that 16% of the population have no cover at all.
Male life expectancy on average in the US is 4 years less than in the rest of the high income countries in the Western World. A combination of bad lifestyle, and a huge gap in the availability of proper health care to the poor. Most observers reckon that the US is now the only “developed” nation that doesn’t offer universal healthcare, and there certainly isn’t a majority interest in fixing this problem as Mr Obama has discovered.
But I guess I have to be happy that we have taken out a top of the range health care policy. Dr Igor has a lovely bedside manner, and a strong Czech accent. We swapped Prague drinking stories, and he told me my liver was fine, great news, I will have to drink to that later. Off to a fake Irish pub to celebrate St Patricks Day, something they obsess about around here.
Dr Igor asked when I had last had a health check, the answer of course was “never, we just don’t do that in the UK”. He then gave a thorough examination, including checking my prostate. Ummm. And then he told me what he was going to do for me….8 blood tests, a scan of my kidneys and bladder, and a colonoscopy. Back a month later, and he decided my cholesterol levels were high, and with absolutely no discussion of my diet, I have magic statin pills.
My blood pressure was slightly raised, I tried to explain it might have something to do with the internal examination he had just done. But, hey, another pill for my blood pressure.
So what does all of that tell me?
I am obviously delighted to have been put through such a thorough check up. And I loved the good doctor, great sense of humour, even with his finger inserted in sensitive areas. But how much of this is necessary, and the cost of it all is unbelievable. We have the best of schemes, but we still co-pay, up to a maximum of $2k per annum. Each prescription cost me between $10 and $70, there is a charge for everything, mostly covered by the insurance, but every price to my mind is over inflated.
Vrinder and Mandeep, our dear colleagues had their lovely baby out here, the charge to the insurance company was over $20k.
The American nation is a great and prosperous place. We love most aspects of our life here, but the population are being ripped off big time by the Health sector, paying twice as much per head, and yet not, as a nation, getting the proper return. The well off do pretty well in the system, but bad exercise and diet for large swathes of the nation, and a huge underclass who can’t afford to be sick, paint a bad picture.
And to prove I am healthy, I have been playing tennis twice a week. Unfortunately the only people who will play with me on a regular basis are the old age pensioners, an interesting bunch. This week I was partnering the Bishop of Denver who has his eye on me, he wants to convert me to the ways of the Lord. I would have been more co-operative, but his belief didn’t save us from being embarrassed by a bloke who took his heart pills between games, and an 81 year old.
The Bishop then told me he had used me as an example in his sermon at Denver Cathedral last Sunday. I was the English non believer, part of the 95% of Brits who walk on the dark side. He says he will give me the CD when it is available this week.
A strange week, with lots of bashing from a doctor and a bishop. Only in America.