Tag Archives: NHS

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I direct you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I got a huge kick out of this Q and A with an economist at the Financial Times – Tim Harford – weighing in on topics like why people aren’t having more sex. Check it out! And while you’re at it, check out Joshua Gans’ (another economist!) blog about parenting, Game Theorist: Blog. Fun stuff!

2. As a writer, I love stories of perseverance and second acts. Here’s a compelling story about novelist Erica Eisdorfer finally getting noticed when she joins a novel competition and (nearly) wins. (Hat Tip: Practicing Writing.) And here’s another one about essayist Kerry Herlihy who landed a big scoop in last week’s NYT Modern Love column, where she wrote about her birth mother. (Hat Tip: Lisa Romeo Writes). Bravo, ladies!

3. If you want to catch up on British politics, here are my contributions to PoliticsDaily.com this week on torture, health care and…health care again! The Brits are really P.O.’d that the Americans are slamming the NHS in their health care debates and have begun to fight back…do have a look!

4. Finally, and just for fun, here’s the Guardian’s slide show of art hotels from around the world. Kinda makes you want to take a holiday…

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons You Should Go To The Dentist

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the dirty secrets of adulthood is that you get cavities. When you’re a kid, you think cavities are just for children because you eat too many sweets. But then you you grow up and realize that – nope – you can still get new cavities or have to refill the ones from childhood.

Bummer.

Dentistry is a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m over on politicsdaily.com today talking about why government-sponsored dentistry in the U.K. is – IMHO – such a nightmare. (Subtitle: “Why The British Have Bad Teeth.”) Have a look.

But in the meantime, here are five reasons why it’s important to see your dentist regularly:

1. It’s Cheaper Than Therapy. Let’s face it. Most of us spend some portion of our time “in the chair” really “on the couch.” And why not? Dentists are such gentle, convivial people. I had one dentist in Chicago who was so comfortable with his patients that he told me he gave one guy advice on getting a vasectomy. I recently saw my own dentist the day my boiler broke and he allowed me to just sit there and swear – literally – for like five minutes. Later, when he was drilling my teeth he said, “Well, as bad as this feels, remember that you’re more upset with your boiler man than me. I’m probably only like 10th on your list of people you hate right now.” (Shame about all that alleged depression/suicide stuff among dentists, but it would appear that those stories are exaggerated.)

2. Tooth Decay is On the Rise. Despite all that fluoridated water, tooth decay is actually on the rise, particularly among the middle-aged and older. The reason? An increased reliance on medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, etc., many of which cause drymouth, which in turn rots your teeth.

3. You’re Likely to Earn More. According to a study called The Economic Value of Teeth, there exists a mild “beauty premium” for having straight, white teeth. (At least if you’re female and not very wealthy). (Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)

4. You get free stuff. (At least in the U.S.) And everybody likes that. Just ask Chris Anderson.

5. You Don’t Want To Have British Teeth. It’s a clich√© for Americans to mock Brits for their poor oral hygiene, just as they in turn make fun of us for obsessing about our pearly whites. But – as with most stereotypes – there’s some truth on both sides. And much as I tend to side with my British friends on many things, on this one I’ll proudly call myself American. See my article.

Bizarre, fascinating fact: A disproportionate number of dentists are named Dennis. Really. (Again, Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)

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While you’re over at politicsdaily.com, have a look at my post on Hillary Clinton threatening to cut off intelligence-sharing with Britain over a high-profile torture case.

Image: Recommended by Dentists by Guendal via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Seeing Is Believing: Why We Need A Public Health Care Option

As the health care debate heats up in the States, I’m weighing in once again on the joys of socialized medicine over on PoliticsDaily.com.

Today, I’m talking about my husband’s eyesight…bear with me.

It’s a post about what his contact lens coverage under the NHS tells us about the dire state of those who live in America with “pre-existing conditions.”

Have a look (no pun intended!)….and please do leave a comment. This debate has reached a boiling point!

Image: 115/365 E FP – TOP by foreverdigital via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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DIY Healthcare: Why Socialized Medicine Is For Grown Ups

On Thursday I posted about how I’m learning to master differences in vocabulary across the Atlantic divide. After living in the U.K. for two and a half years, I’m also slowly but surely coming to terms with what it’s like to live in a country with universal health care.

For starters, doctors tend to medicate way less over here unless you’re really ill. They also do fewer preventive screenings for things like breast and prostate cancer.

But one of the most surprising aspects of the British National Health System (NHS) is that it actually encourages patients to take more responsibility for monitoring their own health. I say “surprising” because one of the negative stereotypes of socialized medicine is that when you place health care in the hands of the government, you effectively create a nanny state, wherein the government – not the individual – makes decisions about personal health.

But that’s actually not quite right. Precisely because the system is designed to worry – first and foremost – about the population, patients are actually encouraged to do a lot of basic health care on their own.

So, for example, I’m rather fair and freckly by nature – and have a history of skin cancer in my immediate family. Back when I still lived in the United States, those two risk factors meant that I saw a dermatologist once a year to look for irregular moles and such. When I first moved to the U.K., I dutifully made an appointment to do the same thing over here. But the dermatologist I saw here actually discouraged me from coming in annually. Instead, she took some photos, gave me a diskette and told me to go home and continue to monitor my skin carefully. When, as, and if I found something suspicious, I should compare it to the photos and call them if things had changed. DIY skin care, if you will.

“But…but…!” I sputtered. “What if something goes wrong?”

The doctor looked puzzled. “If something ‘goes wrong’ you call us,” she said, matter-of-factly. “After all, you’re going to know there’s a problem long before we do. Just coming here once a year doesn’t prevent skin cancer.”

At first I resisted, insisting on re-booking my annual skin cancer check-up the following year. But the doctor I saw 12 months later said exactly the same thing. “It’s more efficient this way,” he explained. “Because then we see you only when it’s really necessary. But it’s also about teaching you how to look after yourself so that you take more responsibility for your own health care.”

Wow…what a radical idea. And I must admit that it felt a little strange. But you know what? By the third year, I canceled the appointment and took a look at those photos instead. And you know what?¬† In an age of responsibility, I felt more grown up.

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Was anyone else as troubled as I was that the piano is on its way out as a staple of the American living room? I don’t even play the piano and I still felt nostalgic when I learned this!

Image: Second Life: National Health Service (UK): by rosefirerising’s photo stream via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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