November 09

I would like to share with you my favorite maxim. It goes like this:

Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.

I was born, then, when I was 5 years old I had my tonsils out. As an adult I had cosmetic surgery once, while I lay on the operating table one surgeon said to another, ‘So how’s your kitchen coming along?’

The other guy said, ‘Great. It’s costing an arm and a leg though.’

Honestly, I thought I had walked into a hospital sitcom.

I thought I had broken a toe once, so I went to the Emergency Room and had it x rayed. No broken toe, but I did get a date with one of the nurses.

Visits to doctors averaged once or twice a year for about 40 years – say 80 to 100 visits. What else? – Oh yes, my two sons were born. By the time he was 2 and a half, one of them had a chronic hearing condition and we had to hassle for it but we got immediate (within a week) effective surgical treatment. He hears perfectly now. Both my kids were right on the national average for their first years’ of life and went to the doctor about once a month. For both deliveries my then-wife had daily visits from the midwife (just like every new mother in the UK) for two weeks.

The above is a partial (‘cos I can’t remember it all) list of medical procedures I had while I was living in the UK (where I was born). How much did it cost me? Well till I went to work when I was 16 it cost me nothing at all. Then it cost me the same as everyone else – that is 9% of gross income, a tax called National Insurance, deducted at source from every paycheck. And if I was unemployed from time to time I was still able to go to a doctor if I needed one. In just about every contact with medical professionals and in treatments, I received professional care, courtesy and kindness.

I just get mildly offended and/or amused when I hear political types in the USA making pronouncements about the UK and the health system over there.

No one ever goes bankrupt in the UK because they can’t pay medical bills. No one is uninsured. And if you wish to pay the premiums you are perfectly at liberty to buy private insurance too, many people do. What’s wrong with any of that?

In a few weeks I go to West Palm Beach, Florida, to do a play called ‘Copenhagen’. I got the script today and I think I may have lost my mind, or may lose it shortly. The play is basically a tome about Nuclear Physics. I like South Florida in the winter. I like the theatre – Palm Beach Drama Works – seen a few shows there, all good. And I like to work. But honestly this is a lot of work. I don’t mind that either, but it’s not a lot of money.

So much so is it not a lot of money – to the point that along with most other skilled professionals in theatre I am once again subsidising the theatre, the audience, and the profession. Don’t worry, I am not being critical of the USA here, the very same thing happens in the UK. And alright, all of us in the theatre know – well we do now if we didn’t then – that we’re not in it for the money.

Still, I still wonder why I’m going to do this job that is such a huge amount of work for such modest cash? Oh, I know – I’m an actor, and oh yes, I need to work a certain number of weeks to get my guess what, – health insurance.

3 replies on “November 09”

Lovely stuff this, Colin. I took the liberty (I hope you won't mind) of copying the text of it (minus your identity, naturally) to a dear friend in the USA. She and her family are a staunchly Republican lot, but she wavered last time – she was so ashamed of having voted for George W. We've had a running correspondence about the health insurance thing. I think she's heading back to the GOP next election. Anyhow, I couldn't have agreed with you more. We have much the same system as the UK (though not as good, I think) but I also have private insurance, while I can afford it. Health care should be the right of every single person.I hope the Florida play deals with the rather dull theme inventively. I'm sure you'll put zing into it.Enjoy the warmth. D

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