Indeed it does. However, in America, if you can’t afford insurance, you are still dead, or if you are lucky, alive but bankrupt. Unless you have a media friendly sob-story that tugs on people’s heartstrings enough to persuade lots of people to donate for your treatment. God help you if you are not a cute kid or a war hero.
I have some experience with both systems, as I lived in the US with my family for a few years. We were fortunate enough to have very good insurance. When my sister became dangerously ill with pneumonia, she received top-rate treatment, but after a few days, we had to fight the insurance company to keep her in hospital because they reckoned that she should have been as right as rain after no more than a couple of days treatment. Fortunately, we got them to back off, but a couple of days later they had to bring the crash cart in because she was on the verge of going in to cardiac arrest.
One of our neighbours was plunged into poverty and hardship when he had a heart attack that meant he was off work and uninsurable for some time afterwards. Another neighbour (single mother with kids) was mentally ill and suicidal, but could not get treatment unless she had already been hospitalised after a suicide attempt. This was until my mother persuaded a doctor friend to get her on to a research program so that she could receive free treatment, which obviously isn’t an option for everyone.
These are some of the horror stories and potential horror stories that I have witnessed with America’s private healthcare system. I have not personally experienced anything like as appalling with the NHS, although I’m sure some people have had bad experiences.
It does irk me however, when Americans pick up on isolated horror stories connected with the NHS and then act as if medical malpractice is something uniquely evil to the NHS, and doesn’t exist at all under America’s private healthcare system, because it is rubbish. I know for a fact that people have died in the US because of inadequate treatment, often because they could not afford it. It is true that a lot of people do die on waiting lists in Britain because of the strain on resources, but I don’t see how this is any worse than dying in the US because you can’t afford the right treatment. At least if you are poor and on a waiting list, you have more hope than someone who can’t pony up the cash to get treated.
I had to laugh when that anti-NHS American politician waxed lyrical about how Prof Stephen Hawking would have been dead if he had been British, blissfully unaware that he was British, and credited the NHS with saving and and prolonging his life for over 40 years. I guess he must have heard the electronic computer he uses with its American accent and just assumed he was American...
If you do not have insurance in England, the prices are actually higher then what they are back in the states. Ask any visiting foreigner that needed treatment. Heard a story from a business associate. Prices were extremely high. Might have been due to that pound exchange rate back then, however. Was about 1.5 to 1.