Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anorexia Nervosa: Private Health vs NHS Safety Net.



Il faut manger pour vivre et non pas vivre pour manger.
(One should eat to live and not live to eat.)
- 
Moliere (1622 – 1673): L'Avare (The Miser)
Some hae(have) meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
- 
Robert Burns (1759 – 1796): The Kirkcudbright Grace

In The Cockroach Catcher, in the opening chapter I recalled an Anorexia Nervosa patient that has been “dumped” by her Private Health Insurer.

This patient’s father works for a medical supplies company that continued to insure the family. Even then the Health Insurer chose to limit her treatment to 18 months.

Why? Because there is a safety net: The NHS.

Health Insurers write their own rules.

Why? Because there is a safety net: The NHS

“….Ethics in medicine has of course changed because money is now involved and big money too. What was in dispute in this case was that the private health insurance that sustained Candythrough the last eighteen months had dried out. The private hospital then tried to get the NHS to continue to pay for the service on the ground that Candy’s life would otherwise be in danger. The cost was around seven hundred pounds a night….’

Let us not forget that many private hospitals can make more money from the NHS because the NHS does not exclude. The NHS pay for everything including those Private Health Insurers chose to exclude.

“……A quick calculation gave me a figure of over a quarter of a million pounds per year at the private hospital.  No wonder they were not happy to have her transferred out.  Before my taking up the post, there were at one time seven patients placed by the Health Authorities at the same private hospital. Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private hospitals springing up for the sole purpose of admitting anorectic patients and nobody else. It is a multi-million pound business. Some of these clinics even managed to get into broadsheet Sunday supplements.  I think Anorexia Nervosa Hospitals are fast acquiring the status of private Rehab Centres. Until the government legislates to prevent health insurers from not funding long term psychiatric cases, Health Authorities all over the country will continue to pick up the tabs for such costly treatments……”

I did not agree to that patient staying on at the private hospital paid for by the NHS. That hospital did not like me!!!

The Obama Health reform is dealing a big blow to Health Insurers as by 2014 they will have to take all comers and cannot exclude pre-existing conditions not to say dumping someone like my Anorexia Nervosa patient. Until then, the State or the Federal Government steps in.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican gave a rousing endorsement of President Obama’s health plan.  New York Times reported today.

The new government in a week’s time should take the first step in legislating against Health Insurers “dumping” patients because of psychiatric diagnosis or so called chronic conditions. That way, private hospitals and insurers can fight it out amongst themselves. At least  the small pot of NHS cash would be safe. That would be a first step.

I doubt if any government would follow Obama’s extremely courageous move of legislating against excluding pre-existing conditions but we could watch what happens in a few year’s time. If we can at least secure the position of those already insured we could save the NHS a great deal of money.

Unlike the US we have a safety net: the NHS.

Let us protect it. 


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