There are no healthcare charges in the UK, it is paid for with "national insurance", which is one of the many taxes that comes out of our wage packets. Waiting lists are notorious, and getting treatment takes a very long time. Things like X-rays, Ultrasounds, and MRI scans are very hard to come by, as is any expensive treatment, such as anti-TNF. England is supposed to be a highly developed world leading country, yet it is quickly becoming a laughing stock over Europe. I'm considering moving to France/Germany at some point, to take advantage of the European Union!
You can get health-insurance and go to a private hospital, but I can't now that the condition is pre-existing. Private healthcare is usually in the same hospitals, and often with the same doctors anyway. I have occasionally paid private fees in order to jump waiting lists, but a single consultancy will cost £100+ ($155+) , without any treatment or meds.
I have fortunately been part of a clinical trial comparing treatment methods in Psoriatic Arthritis, and I fell into the "intensive treatment" category, meaning I get MRI scans, Xrays, Ultrasounds when necessary, and without the waiting period normally necessary (i.e. 5 days instead of 10 weeks). And I escalated through the available meds very rapidly, finding myself on Etanercept and MTX 25mg after 5 months of the study. This finished three weeks ago, I will continue seeing the same doctors until they are happy I'm "stable" and then I will reintegrate into the normal clinic, which means being seen 4 times a year, and seeing a different doctor every time.
I had to experience the 'normal' treatment twice before I found the study (or rather it found me), I was faced with Indian/Eastern European/Junior etc* doctors with (often) limited English who basically recite things from the literature, but have no real grasp of evidence based medicine. I once got a bollocking for taking 200mg Ibruprofen with 75mg Diclofenac SR because they're both NSAIDs. Any decent doctor would acknowledge it was a low dose of Ibruprofen, and unlikely to cause issue with a slow-release formation of diclofenac... Plus, if I was given decent meds, I wouldn't have needed to do it! Oh god, how I look forward to being back on the NHS (national health service).
hah, that was quite the rant.
To be honest, I don't really know very much about the American system. We heard about some palaver with Mr. Obama changing the law so it was more accessible. And the general (ignorant) opinion is that the US health-care system is much worse than ours, not due to quality, but due to insurance companies and difficulty getting treatment. From what I've read, the opposite seems to be true. The worst thing is, I can't escape, no insurance company will cover arthritis treatments (obviously), so aside from becoming rich, I'll have to get my treatment from the UK.
21, Male, England.
Dx: Psoriatic Arthritis, Chronic Back Pain, Dyspraxia
Rx: 25mg Methotrexate Sub-Cut Injection & 50mg Etanercept (Enbrel) Sub-Cut Injection
Oh, and plenty of Tramadol, Codeine, Diclofenac, Diphenhydramide, Paracetamol, and SCOTCH.