Monday, July 9, 2007

It's almost enough to make me put down my Freedom Fries

Raul's dad is visiting now. Yesterday, we were able to escape the heat for a few hours watching the new Michael Moore film, SiCKO. He addresses the shortcomings of the US health care system by interviewing various individuals that were denied appropriate medical care despite having health insurance. He also advocates for the implementation of universal health care by interviewing British, French and Canadian citizens that seemed quite content to pay nothing (at the time of service, they pay significant taxes to support such a system) for quality medical services. His film is interesting and inflammatory, as his films usually are. And unfortunately, his tales of injustice in the health care system are all too true and common. I have been in the clinical setting for a single year, and the things I have seen are shocking. We discharged an uninsured patient the other day with a $40,000 hospital bill. The staff and social workers at times have to spend hours on the phone with insurance companies to keep a patient in need of treatment for an additional day. He gave examples of people being denied MRI scans to diagnose brain tumors or being denied cancer chemotherapy because the insurance companies don't want to pay. It seems unconscionable. Insurance companies are making millions of dollars in profits by denying people medical care--millions of dollars that could be used to provide treatment and disease prevention for thousands of people. Equal access to medical care should be a human right. Hopefully, one day we will have universal health care coverage for everyone--maybe then it will be in the best interests of the insurance companies to provide preventative care (unlike now when they know that you'll probably switch insurance companies by the time you have a heart attack from your high blood pressure or need your foot amputated from your uncontrolled diabetes, so they have no incentive to prevent these things from happening because someone else will foot the bill). Granted universal health coverage is not cheap, and the cost of such a program may result in an increased tax burden for all citizens. However, we would happily pay half our income in taxes to support the existence of a system that provides health care to everyone. One day it will happen. Until this time - support your local free clinics and advocate for change.

3 comments:

grandma lorrel said...

Do you think the hospital will eventually get that $40,000? I don't see how people live today without insurance. It sounds like you rather liked the movie. This all gets too deep for me sometimes. I bet you are one happy camper now. :-) Have a great rest of the week.
Love ya.

J.Po said...

You said it, sister! To add to your comments, I'd like to see far more effort put toward prevention to keep the outcomes (heart attack, what have you) from happening in the first place. I feel like the prevention end of the equation (primary prevention, that is) is SO under-appreciated/under-funded. I guess there's no money to be made in stopping disease before it starts, as compared to designing a drug or whatever to treat disease. Ugh.

homeinkabul said...

Even with my insurance, I had to pay over $2,000 for all the thyroid issues. I'm so happy that i had insurance then!

I also think that veterans should get better care...

 
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