Friday, June 16, 2006

Death by Lack of Insurance, visiting again

At lunch the other day I was discussing problems uninsured individuals have accessing medical care and the need for total system change. (It wasn’t a random conversation, the discussion was between myself and the individual who took over as Executive Director of the free medical clinic I was running when I was elected Coroner.)

Why hasn’t something been done to help the 48 million Americans without health insurance? It was my point (echoing many others) that historically low-income individuals have been the super-majority of the uninsured. Low income individuals have no power, no clout, “no one” listens to them.

I also made the point that the demographics are changing and with that change is coming renewed attention and re-evaluation of this issue. More moderate- to middle-income families are facing loss of insurance and its attendant risks of ill-health and financial ruin. More people, many 50-65 years old, are facing the prospects of being uninsured. These are people who can be heard, who can use their clout. It is terribly unfortunate that this is what it will take to get the issue addressed, but I see it coming.

Medical debt is crushing people who have no insurance. It has become an issue for individuals with insurance (62% of adults with medical debt were/are insured).

The inability, or severely circumscribed ability, to get insurance on the private market is hitting even those with the money to afford to pay for it.

Lack of medical insurance limits access to healthcare. It limits an individual’s ability to properly manage chronic health problems. It limits access to health maintenance and disease prevention/early screening measures. It contributes to the death of these individuals.

1 comment:

mary said...

Just to let you know I read your blog from time to time and appreciate all you put out there. Very interesting and informative reads.

I live in Canada and although our system is not perfect by any
means..I've yet to know anyone personally who's been refused medical treatment because of money. My dad lives in Dallas...a senior citizen who took on new job (training and all), at a health food store when he turned 73 was recently here visiting. From driving almost straight through and not stopping earl enough when he had to use the bathroom..his bladder became blocked and we had to take him to the emergency ward. He was seen and treated immediately..granted he could not stand from the pain..still he was surprised and very pleased at how everything was handled. Money was not talked about until after all was said and done..tests..emptying of the bladder, et al. They took brief information when we arrived and the rest was done when we left.

I recall when I needed medical care back in the mid 1980's..it was very scary knowingI didn't have insurance or much money on me. They literally would not treat me until my dad arrived with proof he could pay them..it was that or go to a county hospital many miles away.

Since that point in time I so value all that we have here in our country..to walk into a hospital, clinic or doctor and never worry about how it will be paid for is a blessing..and something I think we often take for granted here. "You don't know what you've got til it's gone," as the saying goes.

There are many concerns here in Canada re: our health care system going broke..I hope the powers that be come up with a plan to salvage the problems before we lose what we have. Am not sure what the answer is for the United States, but I pray there is one soon.For as you say the influx of people who will need care as they age will be coming on strong...if they aren't already.

Mary