Thursday, July 24, 2008
MS in the US vs. MS in the UK
NPR has been airing stories comparing the American health care system to systems in other countries. This morning, a story used MS as a way of illustrating the differences between the US and the UK. Here's the gist: In Britain, Linda starts having odd feelings in her legs. Her GP refers her to a specialist, who promptly orders an MRI and other tests, which are performed the same day. Linda starts taking Copaxone, though the NHS does not cover it at the time. Later, the NHS approves Copaxone and refunds Linda's out-of-pocket costs. Her only complaint is that she has to pay for physical therapy. In the US, Jeffrey gets diagnosed with MS and loses his job due to disability. With no job, Jeffrey has no health insurance and can't afford his meds. He loses his house and declares banko. His doctors don't take Medicaid, and he ends up in the 2-year waiting period before Medicare will kick in. He attempts suicide, but fails. He now has coverage through his wife's employer, but it isn't as good as what he had when he was working.
Lucky Linda. Lucky Doug, too: I was studying in the UK when I developed the numbness in my legs that sent me to a GP, who sent me to a neurologist.
Every weekday, I silently curse the alarm clock when it goes off at 6. Then I thank my lucky stars that I'm lucky enough to still be working.