Enjoying the blog? like the page on facebook!
America’s healthcare system is pretty well known around the world. Although I should probably say ‘the United States of America’s’ healthcare system is well known around the world. As I am not too familiar with the rest of the continent. Maybe you are, and the sentence still works. We may never know.
So for the few people that may not know about the system, it goes a little bit like this; If you have money, you can get care. If you don’t have money; you are a lazy, worthless person who should try harder at life. That is not a direct quote from the American Medical Association, but I had to paraphrase for the blog post. In the US Healthcare is a privilege not a right. Although rather interestingly it is the exact opposite if you want a gun.
The US has basically built its whole system around that model. if you want the care you need the money, if you want the education, you need the money, if you want to be a politician, you need all the money, and on it goes.
This is why I was surprised when I lived in the US that I got entirely free mental health care. Not just basic healthcare either, I got free medication, free access to any psychiatrist in the county, a therapist and group therapy sessions. Crazy you say! impossible! But dont worry, I cannot completely obliterate your prejudices, as I did receive all of this care through a private university. Said university is very expensive, at around $36,000 per year, so I am playing a little fast and loose with the term ‘free mental health care’.
For me however, it was free. I paid UK tuition so nothing was paid in the US.
It was free but I was instantly reminded of its deep rooted American values when I was asked (forced) to sign a waiver. The waiver proclaimed I would not commit suicide on campus. Nothing fills you with a sense of care and belonging like signing a contract limiting the liability of the university you’re attending encase you are in so much pain you decide to end it all – on campus. You will notice the specific geographic location ‘on campus’, which I am sure is absolutely nothing to do with the US suing culture*.
Whilst in their care system, I noticed my psychiatrist was more generous than my local sweet shop owner growing up. The idea of medicating mental illness was never something I had considered but the first hour seemed like a sales pitch – ‘just try them, they’re free!’. This is not surprising, as essentially all doctors in the US are extremely qualified sales men and women. Why wouldnt you give out medication if you’re making commission on them? Giving unnecessary medication to people you’ve only just met is not a good enough reason, apparently.
This was the problem with the ‘free’ healthcare I received. It appeared that profit was the order of the day. So my meetings with the psychiatrist were the worst of any country I have been to. They were short, and very un-investigatory* because their money is made through medication. Their time is money. It didn’t benefit her to be spend more time with me, and I felt that from day 1.
It is interesting though when the economic model changes, such as with the therapists.The outcome was very different. The therapists could not prescribe medication and they worked fixed hours so couldn’t go home if they finished early anyway. So what actually happened there was some serious, in depth reflections, that really made headway into my illness. The sessions more often than not went over time as opposed to cut short.
So there you go, if you want free healthcare in the US all you have to do is spend $36,000 a year on a private university education. So what are you waiting for Americans? I dont know why you guys complain so much. Free healthcare. Amazing.*
P.S If you want to read about my experience in the UK mental health system, it is here.
*I am 100% sure it is to do with the suing culture in the US.
*Not a word
Read more, its good for you.