Hypochondria: The American Terror of Illness

A bedazzled sprained wrist 

Middle class or lower class American’s have a fear of illness. It is almost like hypochondria, a paralysing terror that you will get sick. Not because the physical pain or suffering scares them, but because of financial woes. I’ve lived with this fear. I was lucky to enough to have state health care because my parents were divorced as well as being on my father’s health care plan. So I had good coverage, although I still had co-pay’s* and deductible’s* to contend with. When I turned 21, my father took me off his insurance, and I was one of the millions of American’s with no health insurance. Luckily I moved to England six months later, but those were a stressful six months.

No health insurance makes you live in terror of the flu. A simple thing, like a broken leg, would have bankrupted me if it happened during my months of no coverage. For six months I was in constant fear of getting an injury. I couldn’t pay for a blood draw, let alone an emergency visit.

This fear is something British people don’t understand.  My partner and I recently visited my family in the US and my younger brother got sent home from school, because staff were concerned that he might have strep throat. My siblings only had emergency coverage (insurance would only pay if they went to the ER) and my parents had no insurance at all. Immediately, my mom went into panic mode. She started calculating how she would pay for him to have blood draws, throat cultures, medicine, etc if he really had strep. My partner stood back in shock, and quietly asked me why we were so upset. So, I explained that if my brother had strep throat, it could cost my family thousands of dollars in medical fee’s that they were solely liable for. His jaw dropped.

He is British. He has never had to pay to go to a doctor’s office, or an ER. A blood test has never cost him a dime. He has never had to think about money and health. In the United Kingdom, there is universal healthcare*. He can go to the hospital and get seen, then leave without swiping his credit card.

Another injury I never got

The first time I went to the doctor in England, I didn’t truly believe that it was free. After my appointment, I awkwardly waited around the receptionist, waiting for her to tell me I at least had to pay a small fee. It never happened. I’ve had numerous doctor’s appointments, specialist meetings, and therapist sessions, all for free since I’ve lived in England.

However the fear of affording to be sick has never left me. I avoided going to the doctor’s for half a year although I was having severe stomach problems. In my mind, I could live with the pain, so I should deal with it on my own. It has been bred into me by American society to only seek medical aid if absolutely necessary. Twisted ankle? Wrap it yourself. Deep cut to the knee that could use some stitches, slap a band aid on it.

Ankle injury I never saw a
doctor about

Why is it that the American government is so against universal healthcare? The private health care system benefits no one. The doctors drown in medical debt, and pay premium prices for liability insurance against law suits. Most American’s suffer with chronic illness rather than go to the doctor because of the high costs. Many have the bare minimum of insurance coverage because they can’t afford better. How is this system desirable?

President Trump plans to do away with Obamacare, which is just a drop in the barrel of changes the American medical system needs. Obamacare requires everyone to have health insurance and somewhat lowers the cost of insurance for lower income people. To do away with that, people would again have no protection from injury.

Countries like Canada and England are a prime example of universal healthcare working for the better. It hasn’t bankrupted their government, it hasn’t caused unrest or crippled society. In fact, universal healthcare has only made the country stronger. So, why are American politicians so against transferring to this system? The private system hurts everyone, and forces the countries people to live in fear.

I am grateful that I live in England and have access to free health care. I might be dead without it. But rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of my family and friends that still have to suffer with illness and go without medical treatment, because of the American private healthcare system.

*Co-pay: A fee that American’s must always pay when they go to any medical center, even if they have insurance.
*Deductible: The amount of costs American’s must cover of their own medical expenses before their insurance will step in and pay the remainder of the costs.
*Universal Healthcare: A system where the government of a country pays all the medical costs of it’s citizens, the government funds medical institutions from taxes and funds. Citizens never have to pay for seeing a doctor, getting surgery, or treatment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s