I have been planning to post a rant against the mainstream health system, the attitudes of doctors in particular. I have had an unfortunate amount of contact with the health system since my son got sick.

The Australian health system is far from perfect, but you know what? It is fucking amazing compared to what people have to put up with in the USA. I just came across this tearjerking post which made me extremely grateful to live in a country with a (largely) socialised health system.

Some of the current debate in the US has been filtering through over here and I have been shocked at the amount of misinformation and scare tactics going on. If there is one thing that a market system is simply not good enough for (though I would argue that there is more than one thing) it is health. Everyone has a right to healthcare, its availability or quality can not be determined by income or employment. People in the US are dying because they are falling through the patchy web of insurance coverage.

The article by Natalie O’Reilly over at Hip Mama really hit me hard because her daughter Sophie has the same condition as my son – cystic fibrosis (though she also has other related conditions and the CF is worse than Wren’s so far).

When Wren began to get sick, he was losing a lot of weight. We were sent to many tests and specialists to find out what was going on. It was the most stressful time of my life. But one thing we did not have to worry about was money. All the tests were fully paid for by the government-funded public health system. They even paid for Wren and one parent (me) to fly to the specialist CF clinic in a capital city, and continue to pay for two trips a year (or more if needed). It is cheaper to pay for our transport, than to provide the specialists in our small town. Luckily Wren has not needed many medications so far. He is on daily digestive enzymes, and will be for the rest of his life. All medications and enzymes are provided extremely cheaply through our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. We pay nothing for visits to paediatricians and other specialists. Emergency care and hospital stays would also be provided for free – I hope we’ll never need it, but it certainly provides peace of mind knowing that it is there for us. My son is getting the highest standard of care available.

It makes me feel sick in the guts to imagine being in a situation where I might have to decide whether to take to Wren to see a doctor based on whether we could afford it, or, as in Natalie’s case, whether it might risk our chance of getting health insurance cover.

I hope the US will come their collective senses. Quit it with your absurd and inappropriate free-market ideologies and look at the real people who have a right to health.

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