Millennial British on Obamacare, the NHS, and Why America Is Crazy

Enrolment for Obamacare, America's first tepid foray into universal healthcare, begins today amid ongoing contention over the legislation. Granted, there are bound to be bumps along the way as the new system takes effect, but who better to learn from than our cousins across the pond?

The UK's National Health Service began in 1948, stemming from "a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth." Like in the States, private insurance is available for those who want it, but at the heart of it, British citizens are covered cradle to casket — whether they're being treated for a flu or cancer.

Curious what Brits had to say about America's take on universal healthcare, Bustle hit the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, to hear what residents had to say about Obamacare.

Image: BetsyWeber/Flickr

From Cradle to Casket

Enrolment for Obamacare, America's first tepid foray into universal healthcare, begins today amid ongoing contention over the legislation. Granted, there are bound to be bumps along the way as the new system takes effect, but who better to learn from than our cousins across the pond?

The UK's National Health Service began in 1948, stemming from "a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth." Like in the States, private insurance is available for those who want it, but at the heart of it, British citizens are covered cradle to casket — whether they're being treated for a flu or cancer.

Curious what Brits had to say about America's take on universal healthcare, Bustle hit the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, to hear what residents had to say about Obamacare.

Image: BetsyWeber/Flickr

Fiona Conway-Mortimer, 24

"I find it hard to imagine not being supported by the NHS whenever I need it. When people over here fall ill, their worries are normally, 'Will I make a full recovery? How much will this affect my family, career and life?' The thought of having to seriously re-consider your finances in order to pay to be treated seems quite alien. The thought of re-mortgaging your house to pay for therapy or surgery is pretty depressing.

I think we just don't realize how good we have it with the NHS, and take the free healthcare for granted. It seems like a human right."

Gordon Smith, 24

"I went to a crayfish boil in suburban Houston. We thought it was just a general breast cancer fundraiser. I got speaking to this woman, and I realized it wasn’t just a general fundraiser — it was a fundraiser for her, for her treatment. She didn’t have any insurance because she had been made unemployed. Her jobs she’d had since were sort of piecemeal, and she was really in the shit. She was selling everything. She had to consider each and every treatment and what she could afford and what she couldn’t afford.

Many things in America are built on personal gain and personal worth. Healthcare shouldn’t be one of them. The rest of the world winces at America when you see just how fucked-up the healthcare system is.

Here, you do look at it in your paycheck, and you do see a not-insignificant amount coming out, but it doesn't even cross our minds. And that’s the way it should be."

Kirsty Devine, 27

"I've lived here all my life, so I don't even think about it. If you're ill and need to see someone, you go and see someone. You're at your most vulnerable when you're sick, and when you need help, you're looked after by the state. There's even free prescriptions in Scotland, which is amazing."

Laurie Irvine, 24

"As a filmmaker, I'm not going to have to give up and get a job I hate just so I can get healthcare. I would consider moving to America if it weren't for the healthcare system — it just seems so backward. I mean, they're spending the tax money on wars and not healthcare? It's a small increase in taxes — that's just not an issue, is it?

One day, they'll look back and think, 'I can't believe we didn't do that.' We do that here. If the NHS disappeared here, the government would be overthrown — I'm not even exaggerating. What's happening now though, in America, is not enough. People should be pushing for a free, comprehensive healthcare system."

Amy Edwardson, 23

"I think healthcare should be free for everybody in a civilized society, so what Obama's doing to subsidize Americans and help them get health insurance is great. It makes sense that taxes should pay for healthcare, particularly for people with poor health who are unable to work. Obamacare will improve Americans' health overall, which will keep more people in work.

Knowing that healthcare is free in the UK definitely gives me a sense of security and makes me feel that the UK government cares about the health of its citizens. I think the worry of having to pay for health insurance would decrease my quality of life."

Kate McCormick, 29

"You look up to America as being very democratic, and then here's this huge injustice with the healthcare system going on. In terms of inequality, they're the worst in the world. Obama wants to tackle that. It's an amazing thing."

Kirsty Munro, 23

"If people want to spend their money on private healthcare, that’s their choice. They should be able to choose whether they want to pay for faster queues and whatnot, but they shouldn’t have to pay for it.

It there was a vote here, I would vote to keep the NHS. Everyone’s in a different situation and not everyone can afford to fork out all these different things. If you had to pay for every single visit, every single thing you got prescribed, everyone would be in much more of a state.

It’s something I’ve definitely taken for granted. You don’t realize what these other people have to do to pay for healthcare."