Last night, my daughters staged a coup.
As mentioned before, my sister had major abdominal surgery last month. She spent three weeks in hospital and came home last Friday, since when she has been getting weaker rather than stronger. She is due to see the General Practitioner tomorrow, but my daughters (two in Sydney, one 500 km away) picked up on my concern, decided this wasn’t good enough and put their telephonic heads together.
The details and machinations of the process (irrelevant here) resulted in D3 (full time job as lawyer, mother of two small children) turning up on my sister’s doorstep at about 8.30 pm to offer support and enforce their decision, namely that we would call the medical service that provides doctors’ home visits after hours.
We did. The doctor arrived at about 10.45, and while there was no immediate pill-type solution, we were immensely reassured that my sister was basically stable, that he would communicate with tomorrow’s GP and that the reasons for her shattering fatigue could be dealt with.
There are two points to this story. The first is that my children are just the best.
The second is that there is absolutely no excuse for the inhuman, diabolical shambles that is America’s healthcare system. If we in Australia with a country of similar size and a mere fraction of the wealth can provide major surgery, lengthy hospital care and an out-of-hours primary-physician medical service all for free, the only thing stopping America providing similar services is the overweening greed and self-interest of big money and the stranglehold they have on government.
I can well understand how hard it must be for American people to their heads around this. What you live with is your reality – your normal – and it’s almost impossible, after so long, to understand fully that other people don’t live like this: that other developed countries see accessible healthcare as one of their primary responsibilities.
I also understand that you don’t want an alien upstart like me criticising your country, and I sympathise. I really do. But the combination of recent experience and Trump’s attacks on healthcare have pushed me beyond polite. You deserve a healthcare system that actually cares about your health. In the richest country in the world – a country that prides itself on telling the rest of us how to behave – it is just plain sick that your own citizens die because they can’t afford the care or the medication so readily available to those who can pay for it.
Please, please don’t resign yourselves to third-world standards of care. Please fight for what you deserve and what your country can well afford if it stops pandering to the rich.