Thursday, October 01, 2009
Don't fix it?
I've been more attuned to health care recently and have been seeing more disasters. Three quick stories that have taken place in the last couple of months. I'll leave the names out but all three are people I know.
1. a care giver to an elderly woman dropped dead one day. She developed an abscess from a bad tooth. Because of no insurance, she took pain killers and waited. The infection spread to her brain and she died.
2. A young single mother of 2, found a lump in her breast. She works full time in a chain restaurant and has no insurance and no spare cash. Still she was worried enough to scrape together enough to see a physician who sent her straight to an oncologist who felt it was likely cancer and she needed surgery immediately. She went to a surgeon who told her what it would cost and told her to come back when she could pay the bill.
3. a young man, working day jobs and receiving a room in a house in return for work around the property was riding his scooter and hit by a woman in an SUV. He broke both legs and a hip in addition to being pretty generally bruised. In spite of no insurance, the hospital did the surgery on the hip and treated him, allowing him to stay a day longer than would have been typical... because without being able to work, he had lost his place to live. And even though he will likely receive an insurance settlement from the driver's company, no physical therapy facilities will take him without paying up front. Being a young single man, who used to be able bodied, he is not eligible for any government help. He was driven by a friend from the hospital to a county clinic to get pain killers and then to a homeless shelter in his wheel chair. There he had to prove to them that he could get out of the wheel chair to use the bathroom before they would accept him. Presumably, if he couldn't, they would have left him in his wheel chair on the sidewalk.
Yeah... leave the system as it is. Don't fix it. It is too late for these three and for the 45,000 deaths each year due to lack of health insurance. But don't fix it for the 45,000 who will die next year and the year after that...