Forget the bill, it's free!

Ann Clark
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Because health care is publicly-funded in London, trips to the emergency room are free--as my friends & I so bittersweetly discovered the night we got caught up in a bar fight. Not as exciting as it sounds: two guys were brawling & one threw a glass that hit my friend in the head....lots of blood and a taxi later, she got stitched up in the E.R. To our surprise, the visit was completely free.


Posted on 2/14/2009 by

Rajeshi Twombly

Rajeshi Twombly

The visit is not free, it only seemed to be free. You paid for it in the taxes that you pay. (Or that your parents pay.) But, if you are a guest in the UK you paid in the VAT you pay on every purchase you make. Have you heard how high the taxes are in the UK? Ask sometime what percent of VAT ("sales tax") you pay on everything, even food from the shops.

Posted on 2/15/2009 by

Ann Clark

Ann Clark

Agreed--after all, any elementary economics course teaches that nothing is free. But the taxes you mention happen to fall under the umbrella of "publicly-funded," as described in the tip. I should've clarified the semantics, or titled the tip, "Forget the bill, the bulk of the financial burden will be shared!" Doesn't have quite the same ring to it. But if U.K. guests apply for a VAT refund when exiting the country, an E.R. trip for these individuals will be much closer to cost-free, especially when compared to exorbitant U.S. hospital bills. For any travelers looking for more information regarding VAT refund guidelines (which can be tedious, and not all expenses are covered), I found Rick Steves' online tips helpful:

Posted on 8/11/2009 by

Vanessa Runnalls

Also, you get what you pay for. I'm an American living in England and I've had some horrendous experiences with the NHS (as have my fellow expats). Right now, I still have a month to go to see a specialist for a painful problem I've had for several months...

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