My experience with universal care

Regarding the letter "Health care needs to be like Europe's" (Jan. 17), the universalization of health care as "our allies in Europe" have is not the panacea for the health care problems in our country, as writer Mike Brackett suggests.

In 2006 and 2007 I lived and worked in England. While there, I observed the mess that British universal health care is in. Hospitals and local clinics were closing because the government was not properly funding the program. Doctors were abandoning the system because they couldn't pay their staffs on the NIH's compensation. Doctors who did remain in the program were not taking any new patients. And people were suffering, and literally dying, because they could not get in to see a doctor.

Some cancer patients reported having to wait six to 10 months before they were started on treatments. There were BBC reports of people flying to the former Yugoslavia to see an oral surgeon because they couldn't get the work done in their own country.

When I called a dentist for a checkup and cleaning, the first thing I was told was that they were not accepting NIH patients. When I told them I had private insurance, they asked if I wanted to come in that afternoon!

One of my fellow Americans had his children with him in England. They registered for the NIH, and had no problem at their first well-child checkups. However, they went through a nightmare trying to see a doctor when one of the children developed a very high fever.

I agree that we need to do something to reduce and control cost and increase the availability of health care coverage for all Americans. However, let's not rush into a worse situation just because some vocal pundits naively believe socialized medicine is the way to go.

Chris Johnson

North Augusta, S.C.

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