No Colored Bands on My Braces

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I would get braces for free! My parents were thrilled! In our American minds this was unthinkable, 4,000 dollars worth of orthodontic care for free (thank you taxpayer money). With four children’s teeth to straighten, you can imagine my parents’ excitement. We had only a year left in Great Britain before moving back to the States, and my parents decided that my oldest sister and I would take advantage of this “great” opportunity in order to keep from spending so much on braces in the States.

We jumped on a waiting list at the assigned orthodontist’s (no, we did not have the freedom to choose which one we preferred, but that’s okay, they all cost the same, thank you dear taxpayer) and within several months (yes, months) received our consultation appointment, wherein we were told that we did indeed need braces and should register for yet another appointment in order to take molds of our teeth so that we could discuss options for braces.

Once again, we jumped on the list and, within several weeks, were given the appointment to have our molds taken. Yet again, we were told to make an appointment to come back and have them put on. This time, it took only two weeks, and we were having our braces put on. (Swift service to say the least, don’t you think?) We were thrilled; we had free braces, and it had taken only five months to get them.

Now, before some of you conclude with an air of superiority that the British system doesn’t sound as efficient and top-of-the-line as we are used to here in the U.S., this is not where my experience with “free” health care ends.

Within the year, we had to move back to the States. We promptly located an orthodontist in our town (yes, we were allowed to choose which one we wanted) and scheduled an appointment to continue our orthodontic care. I will never forget our first appointment with Dr. Lane, which we had within two weeks of returning to the States. Upon looking at our teeth for the first time, he laughed. Yes, he actually laughed out loud. He then proceeded to call his assistants over to look at our braces.

He began to explain that we would need to have our braces removed and replaced with a new set. When my father questioned him, Dr. Lane explained that he couldn’t work with our braces; they were too out of date – in his words, “pre-historic” – and were the kind he had learned on in school just a short 37 years ago. He also explained that American braces were smaller, sleeker, could be adjusted differently and that we would even have the opportunity to choose colored bands every other week when we went in for our appointments. We couldn’t believe we had so many options!

Please don’t doubt my love for Britain’s people, legacy, landscape, and tea. I loved all of these things; however, I cannot say that I wish I had kept those “pre-historic” braces. And based on my experience, I would encourage all those who support ObamaCare to take a six-month leave from office and live in a society that practices national health care. Try it out. Spend some time on a waiting list or two. Just be sure not to take a friend or relative with an illness (or crooked teeth).

As I listen to health care debates and watch repeals being made in the House, I stop and marvel at how ignorant our lawmakers continue to be on the realities of this law and its greater ramifications. As someone who has lived the “free” health care society of Great Britain, I can stand and say that we are indeed stepping into something that will not only change our nation’s health, but our nation’s mentality. In giving our health over to the government, are we not essentially giving our well-being and livelihood as well? The “I’m ok with the government taking care of me” mentality will shape other areas as well, including education and finances, just to name a few.

Britain is a beautiful country, one that is rich with heritage and beauty. It is the nation from which the majority of our founding fathers came. Our nation was founded on religious freedom, limited government, and the opportunity to dream and grow without an absolute King (or President) deciding and regulating every facet of one’s life. I find it ironic that we are not moving forward in our pursuit of freedom, but instead slowly surrendering what our nation’s fathers died to secure.

Let’s not forfeit our freedom to choose colored bands – red, white, and blue. Those colors never fade.

Hannah Swanson is an intern with Concerned Women for America’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. For more information on internships with Concerned Women for America, visit

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