Why We Need Universal Health Care

From The Washington Monthly…

THE GOP’S EMERGENCY-ROOM ARGUMENT LIVES…. I’d hoped we would hear the argument much less after the Affordable Care Act became law, but the notion that the uninsured can just rely on emergency rooms hasn’t gone away quite yet.
Here, for example, was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Fox News the other day:

“The fact is a lot of people that don’t have insurance are getting [care] right now. They’re not denied in the emergency rooms. They’re generally not denied by doctors. It’s not a pretty system, but the idea that people are not getting health care particularly for critical needs is just — is just not the case.”

This is strikingly wrong. For one thing, doctors in private practice nationwide tend to take on patients with insurance. For another, all McDonnell has to do is spend a few minutes at a free clinic someday to realize all kinds of families in need go without much-needed care every day, in Virginia and elsewhere.
But it’s that darn emergency-room argument that needs the most help.

Let’s set the record straight. It’s true that under the previous system — before the Affordable Care Act passed — if you’re uninsured and get sick, there are public hospitals that will treat you. But it’s extremely expensive to treat patients this way, and it would be far cheaper, and more medically effective, to pay for preventative care so that people don’t have to wait for a medical emergency to seek treatment.
For that matter, when sick people with no insurance go to the E.R. for care, they often can’t pay their bills. Since hospitals can’t treat sick patients for free, the costs are passed on to everyone else.

Good points. Comparing the emergency medical system to primary care is like comparing the fire department to a smoke alarm. You don’t neglect fire safety just because you know the firefighters will try to save your life and property. A water-soaked ruin is not a good outcome.

I’m always hearing that the health care crisis is caused by hypochondriac Americans running to the doctor every five minutes. I don’t see that in the community. I more often see stories like this–

From Dr. Jennifer S. Chang in the New York Times…

It Was Benign, but Almost Killed Him
William Siewert almost died from an enlarged prostate.
Not prostate cancer, just a “benign” enlarged prostate. He is yet another example of the people who fall victim to our currently broken health care system. He agreed to share his story in the hope that someday cases like his would be rare exceptions.

William Siewert lost his job and insurance. He could have been treated with a daily pill, failing that he could have had routine surgery. Instead, with no regular doctor he could afford and just the emergency room, he ended up with kidney failure. The pain and suffering he endured in the year it took to ruin his kidneys I can’t imagine. The cost of his care has now run up to several hundred thousand dollars.

To read the rest, William Siewert’s ordeal and why he lost his insurance, .Follow the link here.

Ironically, there is a special government program for kidney failure. The discovery of dialysis, in a more confident America, struck politicians as the gift of life, and they voted for Medicare to cover kidney disease.

But more people on dialysis is the last thing our country needs. The point where intervention is needed is before the person’s body is trashed. I’ve seen people end up on dialysis because of untreated diabetes– it’s heartbreaking when it could have been prevented.

I don’t think most Americans really want to follow the model of the firefighters who stood around watching a house burn because the owner hadn’t paid a fee. But that is what we’ve been doing to human beings.

We have to do better. We need universal health care now.

Having the Right Disease

Jennifer Nix survives with a socialist kidney…

Sept. 28, 2009 | The day after this country elected Barack Obama its 44th president, a doctor told me I’d inherited from my father a rare form of cystic kidney disease and that I was already in renal failure. Beyond the devastation I felt on hearing this news, and despite having health insurance, my greatest fear in those first, foggy days was one that haunts millions of Americans. I was more terrified of being dropped or denied treatment by my insurer over some minuscule technicality than I was of facing the disease. After four years of progressive activism, delivery of Obama’s campaign promise of universal healthcare suddenly became very personal and urgent rather than simply a political goal for me.

Veterans, Medicare, Medicaide and a few select conditions will get you health security. We already know how to do it, we just need political will to replace a fragmented system that loses information and leaks money with a regulated system, a strong public option, and a determination to insure all Americans.