Sunday, August 16, 2009

You Think Healthcare Ain't Broke?

During coffee break time, some folks at the office have been arguing that health care reform isn't necessary, that we have the best health system in the world, and that we really don't dare trust the government to guide health care reform.

These are folks who are all perfectly healthy.

Let me tell you a little story about our perfect health care system.

Five weeks ago a friend of ours, who religiously goes for health checkups twice a year, went to the doctor for a cough that had turned into pneumonia. She belongs to one of the major health care organizations in this area.

One thing lead to another, and within three days, she was told that she had cancer virtually everywhere in her body--bones, brain, liver, lungs.

"How could this happen?" she asked. "Three months ago you told me I was in pefect health."

The answer was, effectively, a shrug. "These things happen." This even while they acknowledged that such widespread cancer was almost certainly brewing for several years. However, some of the test that would reveal cancer are expensive, after all, and doctors receive bad marks from insurance companies if they ask for too many tests.

In the weeks since, she has undergone brain surgery to relieve pressure, but has been told not to really hope for a cure. The twenty-four-hour a day nursing care she requires will not be paid by her health insurance, unless she is first destitute. Nor can she go to a nursing home for care, unless she first liquidates every asset she owns. So she goes home, where friends and relatives care for as they can, until things get critical and she must go back to the hospital for IV treatments until she stabilizes enough to go home again. Mind you, the cost of hospital care is infinitely greater than it would be to have the nurse visit her at home, but this really isn't possible under her insurance plan.

Hospice care is an option, but again, this really isn't possible unless she surrenders completely and gives up all payment from her insurance company. Her health insurance offers nothing resembling hospice care.

So the "finest health system" in world failed to find cancer that had to have been developing for several years, even though they have done physical exams twice a year for decades. Then, the health system cannot really offer any help whatsoever to someone wishing to quietly fight their terminal disease at home.

We have the finest health care system in the world. Provided you are perfectly healthy.


the chaplain said...

We have the finest health care system in the world. Provided you are perfectly healthy.

That's it in a nutshell. Oh, perhaps you should have added, if you are richer than God. If one is healthy or obscenely wealthy, one has astoundingly good health care. Otherwise, it's a crap shoot - and the dice are loaded.

Jerri said...

Provided you are perfectly healthy and have insurance.