I was talking to a close friend from highschool today. My friend was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after having a mental breakdown. He has the sort of schizophrenia that comes and goes in episodes.
Anyway, he spent a month in a psychiatric hospital due to his illness. Despite having health insurance through his parents he still has a bill he has to pay for $50,000. $50,000 for a month in a mental health clinic. That's a huge amount to make someone pay for something they had zero control over. It's not like he was out drinking with his friends and did something dumb and ended up in the hospital. He has an inheritable illness.
I was recently in the same psychiatric hospital as he was for something unrelated. The reason I was in there was my fault of course but to what point I had to be in there is the tricky part. A NJ social worker came to my bedside in the ER and told me that unless I signed myself into the psychiatric hospital she would admit me against my will and my release would have to signed off by a NJ judge rather than the psychiatrist in the hospital. Either way I was going to be paying a bill, whether I was admitted freely or forced in.
My mother works for the state of NJ and has a very good health insurance plan through it. The health insurance wiped out most of my bill though I'm stuck [maybe*] paying around two thousand which won't be a problem for me. My insurance company payed around eight thousand of the bill. So for less than a week stay in the mental health unit against my will I was stuck with a bill for $10,000.
*My insurance company might flip the rest of the bill
I am lucky enough to have a pretty solid health insurance plan. Not everyone is. A $10,000 bill is no small amount and could really cause some hardship for people. I don't know how the hospital can expect a schizophrenic to pay a $50,000 dollar bill either. Just experiencing the mental health aspect of our health system I can say without a doubt it's broken. Forcing people into hospitals and then making them pay the bills for the forced stays is insane really. We don't force criminals to pay the cost of their incarnation...
I'm not saying we can or would be able to go with a full NHS but I think the whole "we have the best health care in the world" thing I hear many on the right chirp on about it is a complete lie. There has to be some sorts of changes to this system. It's really fucked up.