Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheering The Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die

Prescription bottle photo from Flicker.

CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated prompted one of the most boisterous moments of audience participation in the CNN/Tea Party Express.

“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”

The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”Read more here.....

That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risk.”.......

Freedom, to me, is knowing that everyone has access to health care. That no one goes without. That people don’t die because they cannot afford health care. Freedom to me, personally, is freedom from worry that my family cannot afford medical treatment if they get sick. Freedom to know that I won’t lose my house, or be bankrupt due to the exorbitant cost of medical procedures. When I tally up the cost of higher taxes in Canada, and compare them to my average health insurance premium, together with co-pays, deductibles, and paying for everything else my insurance didn’t cover, my family is much better off financially paying slightly higher taxes in Canada and being fully covered.

Our family had health insurance in the US, so we were under the radar of the number of uninsured in the US. Add to the 50 million uninsured people in America the “under insured”. Our family were, not by choice, underinsured. We chose to have health insurance, but could no longer afford full coverage.

I don’t know where Wolf Blitzer got the idea that health insurance premiums are just $200 per month.

In just a few years our health insurance premiums went from affordable offering us a reasonable amount of coverage, to a 4 figure sum every month (comparable to our mortgage), with a $10,000 per occurrence per family member deductable. Every year we had to drop more and more benefits, because we could not afford the premiums. We were underinsured heading towards uninsured through no choice of our own. This is not freedom to choose.

A few years ago my youngest fell off his bike and broke his arm. It was a simple break, reset, and cast. Cost us $8,000. $8,000 for a simple broken arm! Another child I know had a more complicated break, and it cost his family $17,000. They could not afford physiotherapy on top of this, so the child’s arm may be permanently damaged. Another family had twin 8 year old boys. One boy had moderate asthma, but she could not afford the expensive preventative asthma medication. One night he was rushed to the ER with a bad asthma attack, and he died. These are just people I know, these situations are repeated all over the US.

People are not uninsured by choice. They are uninsured because they cannot afford the insurance, the co-pays, the deductibles, the prescription medication to prevent controllable illness becoming life threatening.

I asked someone once what he thought about universal healthcare. He said “I don’t want to pay anything towards healthcare in case I don’t need it, because then I would be paying for someone else’s healthcare”. It seems many Americans hate the idea of paying a few dollars towards helping someone else who may be sick or injured.

As for the nostalgic thought that Ron Paul has; “just let the patient’s church pay for it”, this is wistful thinking on several counts. Not everyone has a church. Churches don’t have the kind of money to pay for expensive medical procedures. Here’s the best one, I can I can only imagine how doctors’ offices and hospitals are going to react when they are told to send the bill to a church. The patient will be told to come back when they have several thousand dollars or adequate health insurance.

Health insurance companies and medical professionals make obscene profits. Americans have been brainwashed to believe that universal healthcare is bad.

Any civilized country has access to universal health care. You want a healthy population, otherwise illness can spread. It doesn’t matter, in a pandemic, if you have healthcare. You may still get sick from the person who couldn’t afford preventative treatment.

So, cheering for uninsured people to die. This is not freedom, and this is not compassionate.

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