Friday after work I was biking home when I unexpectedly hit what I guess was a pothole and wound up flipping over the handlebars of my bike. The bars hit my chest on the way over, meaning that when I wound up on the ground the wind was totally knocked out of me giving the appearance that I might have had a serious concussion or something even though in fact I didn’t hit my head at all. At any rate, two nice women saw the thing go down and, concerned, called and got a paramedic sent to the scene. There really wasn’t much of anything to be done, but he nicely verified that my left hand wasn’t broken, helped wrap my wrists, may or may not have saved the fingernail on my left middle finger, etc. Not bad for socialized medicine.
At any rate, fortunately I don’t think I need any further medical treatment because it’s the weekend and the US private sector in its infinite glory has degreed that basically no doctors work weekends. There is one urgent care clinic in DC that maintains limited weekend hours, but—of course—my insurance plan doesn’t cover it.
The larger issue here is that while some medicine is very high-tech and cutting edge and so forth actually most medical problems in people’s lives are extremely banal. Little kids get sick all the time and their parents are worried. People fall and break bones or sprain joints and at a minimum need to be checked for concussions. People need strep throat tests and depending on how the test checks out, they may need antibiotics. And it seems to me that with this kind of thing—your banal basic health care for people with minor everyday problems—there’s an extremely strong case for UK-style direct public provision .
For the record I was, as always, wearing a helmet. But I didn’t actually hit my head at all. Also — it’s hard to type with injured hands!