Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Ugly Truth about Health Care

Here is a more condensed version of the story than the link above:

Delbert Davis lost his job, and with it, his health insurance. During the three months he was unemployed, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. With no health insurance, he was denied the ability to be placed on an organ transplant list.

James Kvaal over at Warren Reports at Talking Points Memo comments:

Davis fell right through our safety net. Medicare wouldn't cover him for two years, and he didn't have two years. He wasn't poor enough for the county health program. He couldn't afford the premium for the state program, and anyway it would make him wait a year for the surgery.

With a little more time, he might have been helped by a special Medicaid program (which would have required him to get divorced, by the way).
(Editorial comment: Talk about "family values!")

But he didn't have time. Davis died on October 20.

His widow, Ann Davis, is left with $1,875 a month in medical bills and is afraid she will lose her house. She told the Austin paper, "My husband and I have worked hard all of our lives. We had insurance up to a very brief window of time: three months that we didn't have coverage, and this happened. Just that little lapse of time . . . and we were trapped in a spiral that we couldn't get out of."

Hard to believe that losing a job can be a death sentence, but that's how messed up our health care system is.
Now I realize that having a national health care system would not completely solve this problem, but it would help. Another problem is the lack of available organs for transplants. (If you haven't checked the Organ Donor on your driver's license, now would be a good time to do it.)

In any case, stories like this where people lose everything they have due to medical bills is just insane. This is just another anecdotal example of why we need a national health care system.


Zoe"s Mum said...

That is so awful! In Britain we complain about our National Health Service but when you really need treatment you get it free. including transplants. We pay high taxes but we know the State will look after us when we are old and sick. It is a good system.
Zoe"s Mum

OkieLawyer said...

Zoe's Mum:

I had the chance to experience England's National Health Service up front, back in 1993, when I was going to Oxford University. I had the oppotunity to take a summer semester for law school, so I took it.

On about the third day there, I tripped on the sidewalk at my college campus, the Queen's College. As a result, I broke (or at least severely bruised) a couple of ribs. The doctor said there really wasn't anything they could do for me because it was felt that wrapping the ribs would not help the healing process.

About a week later, I also came down with an illness (upper respiratory), so I had to go see the doctor again. I asked for some antibiotics, but the doctor told me that they don't normally prescribe them unless you have had symptoms for several days (for fear of overprescribing them). She gave me a prescription anyway.

A couple of side notes. The air quality at that time was very poor, and I suspect that contributed to my illness. If you were to come here to Oklahoma for a few weeks and then go back, you might notice it. It might be better now, for all I know.

When I went to the doctor, I told her that I was "sick." She asked me if I had vomited any. I said "no, I have a sore throat and chest congestion." She then said "I thought you said you were sick." It was then that I found out that in Britain "sick" means the same as in American "sick to your stomach." In order to say that you have a head cold, you should say that you are "ill."

I also found out that in Britain "pissed" means inebriated (as in drunk) instead of angry ("pissed off"); here we simply say someone is "pissed" for angry.

Off Topic: I also learned a few other uniquely British phrases such as "to let a flat," "mind the gap" (as in watch your step getting on the Tube -- the underground train in London), "quid," "bonnet" (instead of the hood of a car) and "boot" (instead of the trunk of a car), "petrol" for gas (and "gas" in Britain means the same as natural gas in America), "high tea time" where we ate "biscuits" (instead of cookies) and a few others that escape my mind right now.

Ah, those were the days.

OkieLawyer said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that "to let a flat" means to rent an apartment and a quid is a Britsh pound (as in money). Come to think of it, do they still have quids there, or is that gone by the wayside with the Euro?