On Thursday, The Daily Signal posted an article which illustrates how thankful Americans should be for the health care we receive. The article tells the story of James Schmitz, a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Mr. Schmitz suffers from West syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
The article reports:
After graduating college, I had an opportunity to work for a think tank in London. There, I’d be just hours away from the wonders of mainland Europe.
Britain is a historian’s paradise, so naturally as a history major, I was soaking it up. The idea of also going to Pompeii or Rome was spectacular.
The only thing standing in my way was a doctor to treat me abroad.
As an epileptic, I needed a steady supply of anti-seizure drugs and visits to the doctor about every three months to make sure everything was working as it should. I also needed a doctor to be available within a week’s time if necessary.
I didn’t know how hard it would be to find a doctor in Britain. I remember having a very difficult conversation with a general practitioner. It was the moment my dream of staying abroad was crushed.
It was a Friday. After work, I walked into an urgent care clinic to set up an appointment with a neurologist.
I knew how easy it is in the United States to see a doctor, so I thought this would be no different. I would go in, get a recommendation, and walk out with a name and number to call on Monday for an appointment possibly in two weeks’ time.
Sadly, that was not the case. The doctor said, verbatim: “I can recommend a neurologist for you. I will say, she’s pretty booked so you won’t see her for at least nine months.”
I was shocked. I felt as if I’d been blindsided. She wasn’t even guessing. She worked at a nearby National Health Service hospital right down the street on the weekends, so she knew.
I asked if there was anything I could do to expedite the waiting process. In response, all I got was: “I’ll call my colleague and see if she could maybe squeeze you in maybe three to four months from now.”
Disheartened by the news, I knew staying in the U.K. was out of the question. I had to return to the U.S. in order to keep accessing the routine medical care that had saved my life so many years before.
A month later, I packed my bags and left for Heathrow Airport having spent less than three months in the country. It’s a shame, because Britain is an amazing country and I would have loved to stay longer. Health care should not be a reason to have to leave a modern, First World country.
And that is how things work under socialized medicine. There may be no cost, but there is also no availability. Healthcare isn’t worth much if you can’t get it.