The two crabs have returned from a quick trip across the pond under the most unfortunate of circumstances. Pineapple Princess's father recently passed away after a long brave battle with cancer. It was nice to see everybody again despite the sad event that brought us all together. But we have no doubt that Daddy Crab is in heaven, hoisting a pint of his favorite German hefewisen. Here's to you!
Our latest new experience in London has been an introduction to National Health System, or NHS. Britons may pay more taxes than Americans (something near 40%) but when it comes to medicine, everything here is practically free, as the Two Crabs have learnt this week.
Our first step to entering the medical system was to apply for a National Insurance number. This involved taking a trip to CamdenTown to be interviewed by a cranky Jamaican who wanted nothing more than to go to the nearest pub. It wasn't too difficult and less than 10 days later we got our numbers in the mail.
Then Pineapple Princess/Angel of Angel/Mrs. Old Scratch arranged to get us assigned to a nearby doctor. Get this: our doctor is about 3 minutes walk from our flat, in a nondescript townhouse in a residential neighborhood, identifiable only by the sign that reads "Surgery" above the door. (Surgery in the UK does not literally mean having a medical operation; it just means clinic or doctor's office).
So I go into the doctors and get interviewed by "Nurse Jenny" who asks me all the usual questions about medical history, takes my weight and height and that's it. Despite all the complaints I've heard about the UK health system, you can pretty much walk into our doctors office and get an appointment the same day. Once you're in the system, you never pay a dime to see a doctor.
The only time you pay is for prescription drugs, which costs 6 pounds, or about $10 USD per drug. It doesn't matter if you have a 30-day prescription or a 3-month supply, it's still only 6 quid. (compare this to an incident last week when we tried to get a prescription at a Safeway pharmacist in Virginia. They wanted $150 for one drug because our US health insurance had lapsed. Even with insurance, the drug still would have cost $25!)
This weekend we're taking a trip to the countryside to the Roman city of Bath. Photos to be posted soon. And Coconut has a business trip next week in northern England. Details on that too coming soon. Cheers!