At the trade show, I met a father and son from Britain who were working a booth near ours.  Before the show opens each day there is usually time to meet the folks manning neighboring booths.  This twosome had been called to duty to man the booth of their American Company because the Americans who planned to man the booth were stuck on the ground in the USA (due to the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano.)  They had driven 19 hours straight-through to make it in time to set up and work the show.

One morning waiting for the show to open the father asked me why our country would want to copy a disastrous system like Britain’s National Health Service.  His son chimed in that it really wasn’t that bad, hadn’t he had good treatment for his appendix just last year.  The father responded that emergency care is reasonable if you are near a facility.  He then asked his son what he thought of the treatment his mother got.  The son sort of nodded and said his dad was right that the service had failed her.  The story that unfolded was of a healthy woman going in for stomach pain, being told to go home and take antacids.  When she returned, the doctor said he would set up some tests to see if it was anything more serious.  That took a couple of months of waiting in line.  By then she was experiencing quite a bit of pain.  The tests were inconclusive so ultrasound was done.  A tumor was found on her liver.  In spite of the (reported by the father to me) fact that about 90% of liver tumors are malignant, it took three more months to get an MRI scheduled.  By that time they scheduled surgery to remove what turned out to be benign.  He said they should have saved the money on the MRI since by the time she got the MRI she would have been long dead had it been malignant.  She then waited more months to have the tumor removed and the symptoms stopped.

I know this is anecdotal evidence but they told more horror stories and even the son (who didn’t think it was a big deal that healthcare had been nationalized) admitted that the only people he knew who did not complain about the NHS were young like himself and needed little if any health care services.

What was so surprising to me was that I had mentioned nothing about health care or politics.  I asked questions about their business and their economy.  The father just felt the need to tell me how stupid he thought the Americans were to take the “best medical treatment in the world” (my best recollection of his words, not a true quote) and make it like one of the worst.