It’s not the most positive phrase is it, normally in searching for a positive end to a list of woes. “Lost my job, the wife’s left me, the roof has a leak, England lost the Ashes 5-0…at least I’ve got my health though”.
This may sound like classic pub chat, but it does emphasise the importance, subconscious or otherwise, that we place on the state of our health; no matter how bad things may get, or how much misfortune we may face, those in good health are more fortunate than the sick, regardless of financial means or social status. If we are healthy, we at least have the opportunity and the faculties to turn around a period of bad luck.
If that is how you feel then please read on, but be ready to be depressed before hopefully being uplifted again with hope!! As what does our long term heath depend on? A number of things…the lifestyle decisions that we make (about work, exercise, diet), an element of luck and family history, and of course the health services that are there to help prevent illness (through research and development, inoculation etc) and help us to recover when we do become unwell.
In the UK of course we have 2 options on the healthcare front…either to use the NHS (as most do), or to enter the private system, either funded privately or with the backing of a Medical Insurance policy that covers these costs.
Now for the dose of reality…just how good is our health system, NHS or private (given they largely rely on the same resources and facilities)? And how much “better” is one than the other??
I am a huge admirer of the NHS, and the majority of countries in the world would give their eye teeth to have a centrally funded healthcare unit that, as well as being the UK’s largest provider of jobs, provides a country of over 60 million people with “free” (at the point of treatment at least), good quality healthcare. However (and I’m pretty sure you could see that coming!), we should all at least be aware of its limitations, principally those of size (or lack of it…the UK is a small collection of very small nations), structure, and investment (again…or lack of it!).
A big part of developing healthcare expertise comes down to the experience of treating specific conditions…our relatively low population limits the number of times that medics see any illness; our healthcare structure means that we lack centres of excellence around specific medical areas, preferring instead a more thinly spread generalist approach; and our funding model – relying purely on funding from a government that has none – means that our scientific research and development, facilities and medicines are lagging behind much of the world. Cancer survival rates in the UK rank amongst the lowest in the Western world and show little sign of catching up, warns a damning report by the Kings Fund Think Tank.
In terms of NHS v private medical insurance…given that the private sector does essentially rely on the same people, expertise and facilities, medical insurance does in my mind remain a luxury; the main difference is that it buys you time and an element of choice over your treatment path (where/when etc). For anyone who thought that your employer buys this for you out of the goodness of their hearts, think again; they want you back at your desk as quickly as possible!!
Contrast this with the US – huge scale and volume, centres of excellence across the country and investment that dwarfs that of any other nation.
It was trying to look beyond these UK constraints that led to the launch of our Global Preferred Care product…this is designed to remove the limitations of geography and finance, instead putting those diagnosed with a critical illness in the hands of world leading experts. This product provides outstanding value for money.
Personally I have recently cancelled my private medical insurance on the basis that I am happy to “self-insure” (i.e. pay for myself) any treatment that I think would be better private that on the NHS for any reason…and if any of us are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with something really horrible, we will be off to the best on the world in the US, fully paid for.
So yes, most of us are lucky enough to “have our health”…but please at least take the time to think about what you are going to do to keep it that way, and be aware that there are options out there.