Thursday, September 04, 2008

I don't know how they did it

Many years ago there was this thing called company loyalty. Often times people worked for the same company IN THE SAME JOB for years and years, usually until they collected a retirement pension and shot everyone the bird while saying "Siyonara, mo fos!" (I made that last part up.)

Today, this is unheard of. Acutally, many people still try to grasp for the role of up and coming pensioner in the U.S., but in the U.K. and in Canada, and I think pretty much anywhere else that has socialized medicine, employment is much more transitional. People are often on contract for a limited period, and after that's up they are left to the fates. Unemployment in the U.S. is a hugely feared condition, mostly because unemployment means no health care.

Not that I think that transitional or contract/short-term employment is a good thing, though I think more people in America would go that route in lieu of being in a stifling job if we had national healthcare.


sequined said...

I agree, totally. I had enough money to live a couple of months between jobs this summer, but if anything had happened health-wise, I would have been 100% screwed. I would definitely have a lot more job freedom if health care weren't so hard to get.

MattJ said...

It is quite strange all the complaining countries with a social welfare program do about the performance of the associated services. It can be slightly worrying in that we don't have the job for life over here anymore, not since the 80s really since the country's industrial and services heritage was systematically dismantled by the government of the day.

That aside, should I lose my job and my private medical then if I contract scarlet fever or have an unwise bus related argument, then I'd get fixed up courtesy of the state. I think the lack of social welfare in the states is probably the most baffling of things about the states. Nothing says 'Some are more equal than others' like a system that punishes poverty.

Olivia said...

Not that I've ever been treated well by a NHS doctor, in fact as a child I was often traumatized, and as an adult I usually walked out feeling like a fool. And ten to one they don't do anything about anything because rather than treating your complaints they prefer to shoot down everything you've just said so that you can go away and they can get paid by the government. (By some twist of fate it so happened that when I had shingles (the biggest thing I was treated for in the past 6 yrs there) I had to go to a private clinic that was open on Saturday!

My first doctor in London was atrocious, and don't even get me started on my first dentist - he called me names and I left crying. The first doc would make stuff up, and really did say "take one of these [whatever came to his mind to prescribe] and (don't) call me in the morning" before pouring out his tenth brandy for the day. Other doctors told a friend of ours that her heavy bleeding and ovarian cancer were "all in her head". Another gave my cousin some aspirin for salmonella. And so on.

My doctor in Texas would discount our treatments because we didn't have insurance (didn't need to go to the doctor much except for checkups or the occasional fever). A consultation was a set price but he'd give you however much time you needed. He always said no question was too silly, so one day I presented him with the sorts of things that my NHS doctor would turn her nose up at a decade later - and he logically and compassionately answered them all. I left feeling wonderfully reassured.

Anyay, I'm looking forward to my benefits starting in a couple of months in this job.

And what about Medicare or Medicaid (paid my granny's expenses and hospice care last year), public hospitals or free clinics, or the funds that hospitals have set up to finance those who need the help, or private foundations.

Jo said...

All good points, Olivia, but I don't think I'd ever see the British system as a model. I think Canada's system and the one in Holland are much closer to a functional organization worth emulating.

Medicare and Medicaid are only available to a very small swath of Americans, and free clinics are almost always crowded and only available to a small population of very, very indigent families.

The vast majority of Americans, though must find private insurance through employment-based group insurance or buying self-insured policies. Neither of these is cheap, but when you can obtain insurance through a certain job, many people will stay at that job even if they are completely miserable. I don't think that's all too fair.

Anonymous said...

urgh, i totally know. esp after thinking i want to leave this job only three months in. at least im not like my roomie who has already quit after 3 days. :/ do what you like. and thats the only answer i guess.