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Health Care Reform: Wake Up America

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 6/22/09

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William Jeffrey had just received some very bad news. He slumped forward in his chair with his elbows resting on his knees, head bowed, feet like lead weights and cold sweat signaling the waves of nausea had begun. He fought the fog rolling into his brain, pulled himself erect and with his entire strength rose to his feet. "Thank you very much Dr. Levinson"-, he said as he shook his hand, "there is a lot to think about, let me get back to you."-

 

William left the room and made his way to his car as if treading through thick mud. He was prepared for this news and had already done the calculations. He could either accept his imminent death or fight for his 10% chance of survival. He knew he could not fight. You see, William's insurance will not cover most of the costs for this very expensive treatment. His treatment will force his family into bankruptcy. There would be little hope of keeping their home and maintaining their moderate life style.  Their sacrifices would be huge. Now, he had to go home and tell his wife Patty, sons Matthew and Jason and his daughter Lauren, that their father has less than a year to live.

 

The above story is a variation on a theme that we see played out every day in our country. If the patient had been Jason or Lauren, then bankruptcy would have been the only option. Half of all bankruptcies in our country are caused by medical bills and three quarters of those filings are people with insurance. [1]Yes, there are many of these stories; so many that we become not so much indifferent, as de- sensitized. We pray that the Dark Knight does not visit our door, but we don't help chase him down when he slays one of our neighbors. Outrage only comes when it happens to one of our family or close friends. We join the other victims to express our outrage and the need for change, but no matter how loud we scream we do not get heard.

 

In a world where we are bombarded by negative news and negative images on a daily basis, it is no wonder that we become de-sensitized to the pain of others. There is so much suffering we have little choice, but it does have consequences. Too often we are complacent. Too often we sit on the sidelines when we should be in the game. Too often we accept the dictates of those in power because we feel powerless to fight. We need to wake up! We deserve a better healthcare system.

 

The United States of America is the only industrialized nation without a universal health insurance system. [2] We have all seen the statistics that show our low world ranking in life expectancy, infant mortality, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. How is it possible that our proud country accepts this? What happened to our competitive spirit? What happened to our entrepreneurial drive? What happened to our swagger and our assuredness, that we are the best country in the world?

 

According to the UN Human Development Report, while the United States leads in healthcare spending, other countries spending substantially less than the US have healthier populations. [3] This is outrageous! We are not cheap; we are just getting ripped off!  Why aren't we fit to be tied! We don't get ripped off in the USA. If any one of you purchased a new refrigerator, and you paid top dollar because you wanted the best, what would you do if you found out your refrigerator ranked 43rd in longevity, 27th in reliability, and 33rd in energy efficiency? You would take the thing back and demand a better deal!

 

So why are we paying so much? Administrative costs account for 31 percent of all health care expenditures in the United States. For Canada's national health care program it is 1.3 per cent. [4] Without getting in to a debate about Canadian healthcare, surely we can agree this discrepancy in administrative costs is unacceptable.  We are lining the pockets of the healthcare industry. How does this happen? There are four times as many healthcare lobbyists in Washington as there are members of Congress. [5] Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Our politicians are being paid off.

 

Wake up America! Get angry! Let's demand some bang for our bucks! U.S. healthcare spending is approximately $2 trillion per year, or $6,697 per person. [6] Wake up and let our collective voice be heard! Few of us are immune to the possibility of a devastating illness robbing us of our health and our home. Wake up and tell the lobbyist, and politicians and the big fat executives of the healthcare industry that we are not going to accept it anymore. Don't be fooled by their arguments! They don't care about you; they only care about your money. We spend the most money on health care so we should have the best healthcare. How can the Land of the Free not have free Healthcare?

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[1] "Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy"- Himmelstein et al, Health Affairs, February 2, 2005

[2] The Impact of Health Insurance Coverage on Health Disparities in the United States, Human Development Report, UNDP, 2005; Universal Health Insurance in the United States: Reflections on the Past, the Present, and the Future. American Journal of Public Health

[3] The Impact of health Insurance Coverage on Health Disparities in the United States, Human Development Report, UNDP.2005

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[4] Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.,M.P.H., Terry Campbell, M.H.A., and David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Costs of Health Care Administration, N Engl J med 2003; 349: 768-75

[5] Opensecrets.org (registered health/drug industry lobbyists)

[6] OECD, in figures 2006 "" 2007 Health Spending and Resources

 

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Pete Latona enjoyed a lengthy sales management career with AT&T and retired in 2006 to form his own consulting business. He currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife Nancy.

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We need universal health care for the reasons give... by liberalsrock on Tuesday, Jun 23, 2009 at 9:17:59 AM
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