People generally seem to have the same set of complaints regarding the NHS: the waiting times are ridiculously long and the quality of care is perhaps lacking (especially regarding mental health). While I did spend some amount of time this weekend doing nothing but lying waiting in a hospital bed attempting to text with an IV cannula in my hand, I had a very positive first experience with Britain’s ‘greatest achievement.’ Through several rounds of medical tests and scans, I kept having to remind myself that not once would a slightly sinister man from the billing department come to my hospital bed with a clipboard of exorbitantly high costs for simple yet lifesaving medical procedures.
I am a conservative; stateside I vote as a registered Republican, and here at home I consider my Tory status a badge of honour. Public healthcare is a point of contention in both countries’ politics, and for the first time I felt that I could properly make some sort of judgment on the matter. It is very easy to call healthcare a privilege when you are in that very position of privilege. My father’s work and insurance meant to me, public healthcare was a far-off horror. Despite my father being over 65, America’s Medicare provision didn’t have much impact on his medical care. I feel so thankful my family are able to afford to stay alive but that’s not the case for everyone living in America.
And that, right there, is what healthcare is. Even as someone whose ill health regularly gets in the way of my life, I have never had to worry about the expenses necessary in allowing me to live that life. However, I have the same right to be alive and well as a less affluent person with the same conditions as me, or with any condition. I am ashamed of who I was when I said that some people were more entitled to health than others. I know how terrifying it can be to have a dangerous health condition, and there are conditions worse than my own, so how could I not support these people being well? Especially as someone who used my parents’ insurance plan, there is absolutely nothing about me that makes me better, and I see that now.
The concept of a system where a nation’s people are healthy should not be a political one. If you must bring politics in, having a healthy workforce benefits the economy, thus greatly benefitting Britain (or any country with a universal healthcare system in place). Don’t get me wrong: I am still a Tory, and will fight anyone who dares to call me otherwise. I’ve learned from my experiences though, and so to anyone who has had to fight to prove they were worthy of being healthy, I sincerely apologise.