Raymond A. Hult: Romney tells false tales about health care in Great Britain

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.

Sen. Mitt Romney recently criticized Democrats for pursuing a “socialist agenda” when it comes to expanding health care coverage to something approaching “Medicare for All.” He implied similar health care systems in other countries have failed. Specifically, he pointed out Great Britain. For example, he claimed, “In Britain, it takes three months to get an MRI.”

Before specifically responding to Romney, it’s foolish to hope that America will in the near future engage in a universal government sponsored health care system like Great Britain or any of the other industrialized nations in the world. The best the Democrats could come up with in moving in that direction was an intermediate step when they for a short time controlled both the presidency and Congress. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but was way better than what existed before.

Unfortunately, President Trump and the Republicans have and are still doing everything they can to completely and forever destroy the ACA. They claim to have a superior replacement including lower costs, better coverage including maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions. That’s a bald-face lie. They have no such superior plan in the works.

The Supreme Court has twice upheld the ACA in 2012 and 2015. Unfortunately, Republicans in 2017 lifted the mandate tax penalty which the ACA required taxpayers pay who refused to purchase health insurance. Without that extra coverage or revenue to help supplement health care costs, the effectiveness of the ACA was severely weakened.

Now, a Republican-sponsored lawsuit supported by Trump in Texas is arguing yet once again to eliminate the ACA. The basis is an earlier court ruling that the mandate part of the ACA wasn’t a legal requirement and therefore nullifies the entire act. Stay tuned! Now, back to responding to Romney.

Since prompt MRIs have been an important part in diagnosing my current health problem and getting back on the road to recovery, I started to wonder if my endorsement of universal health care was a mistake. I couldn’t imagine waiting three months. I decided to contact my friend in London who has lived there for the last 50-plus years and been a participant in its National Health Service (NHS) the entire time.

He responded, “They (NHS) do a great job and everyone benefits. I have had an MRI for several problems. The first time was because I had sinus problems which eventually resulted in some surgery. The second time was for my hearing loss, the third time for Parkinson’s.”

His wife has also had several MRIs, the most recent for a bowel issue, with an MRI done the same day. For less serious health issues, neither has experienced a waiting period of more than a month for an MRI.

My friend opined he’s more than satisfied with the NHS. His general practitioner is on the next corner from his home. Appointments can be made in less than a week. The hospital is five minutes away. Treatment is conducted under a type of “triage” system, with those in most need getting immediate attention while those facing less urgency taking longer to address. Supplemental policies for increased coverage can be purchased if desired.

My friend’s cost, now he’s retired: Zip, nada, nothing. How about that for those of you Americans now retired? When working, his latest monthly salary was $7,937 and his monthly NHS tax was $439.42. The tax is progressive, with those with lesser incomes paying less.

Back to Romney’s recommendation to “check out health care in Canada and Great Britain,” I just did, and your claim of a three-month wait for an MRI appears to be an exaggeration, as are your overall scare tactics bad mouthing health care by Great Britain’s single-payer universal coverage.

I recommend Michael Moore’s film “Sicko,” which addresses the truth about health care in Great Britain. You may be surprised about how not bad it is. This isn’t rocket science. Without worrying about making a profit, the cost of comparable non-profit government sponsored health care is obviously less.

Raymond A. Hult, Bountiful, is a retired FBI special agent, currently suffering from a debilitating bout of Guillain Barre Syndrome.

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