Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And Health Care for All

The hospital in my community has a relatively new campus. The main building is gorgeous. It looks like a fancy hotel with marble floors, statues, soaring ceilings, lots of parking and great landscaping. It has every sort of diagnostic machinery and technicians. When I go to get a mammogram, I feel sort of like I'm at a spa.

A couple of miles away is a little building that houses the free clinic. It's only open a few days a week. There's always a line outside on the mornings when its open. There is a bus stop not too many blocks away.

If you have good insurance, you can go to the fancy hospital. If you don't have insurance. . . well, you can't go to free clinic because they aren't taking new patients. They haven't been for a while. Even if you're an existing patient, you're pretty much stuck if you need a test or procedure they can't do there. And they don't have much in the way of equipment or staff.

People tell me that if we had a national health service, we'd have to wait for health care. They tell me that people in the UK have to wait a long time. However, the people who are telling me this are from the US. My friends in the UK don't say that. People I know who go to the free clinic can tell you about waiting for health care.

The truth is, if we had health care for everyone, those of us with good health insurance would probably have to give up some things. New hospitals might not have as much money invested in artwork and luxury appointments. They might focus on - oh, I don't know - health care?

If my limping for a month while I waited for a knee replacement meant someone else could have emergency life-saving heart surgery right away, I'd gladly limp. Would you? It's a question of prioritization. Everyone could get what they need.

I'd rather make sure some of my tax money allows all babies get immunized and all women get good prenatal care than have to pay for sick babies to use the emergency department. Wouldn't you?

I'd rather pay for a stranger to go to a primary care physician when she has a cough than to have my emergency department clogged with people who are sick because they didn't have primary health care, or people who consider the ER their primary care physicians because they don't have an alternative. We pay either way.

And don't kid yourself that Medicaid fills the gaps right now. Call physicians in your area and see which ones are accepting new Medicaid patients. Good luck with that.

So when I hear politicians threatening to "Take back America" and overturning the health care bill, I get a little politicked off. To me that says that a few rich people want to take back what little poor people might gain. Why are they so threatened to think that someone might get something to which he isn't entitled? To what are we entitled anyway?

It might be totally selfish of me, but I want everyone with whom I live in this country is as healthy as possible. I don't like hanging around sick people. I don't like the waste when they can't work. And yeah, I'd rather pay a little up front than a bunch later on.

I'm not afraid of something called National Health Service. I'm not even afraid of the words Socialize Medicine. But poor people dieing in America because they can't afford health care scares the poo out of me.

1 comment:

  1. Fay, you managed to hit one of my stress bones, which have replaced my funny bones.

    The "Take back America" people are Republicans, the party that supports big business like the banks and ... health insurance companies. The idea of "insurance for everyone" is both a charade and ludicrous: it ain't gonna happen.

    I could rant about this all day, but I won't. The Medicare portion of FICA is already set to go up in January, which won't help Medicare but rather subsidize the insurance companies.

    Socialized Medicine: you must be some kind of Commie or something. Sadly, all men, women, and children are not created equal in the US.