Thursday, August 27, 2009

Socialized Medicine and All That Jazz

Did you hear they are going to do away with private insurance? What are you going to do when they socialize medicine doc? Whatever will happen if they implement universal health care?

It seems I get these types of questions all the time now as the health care debate continues. I have been hesitant to answer not sure of the particulars of all the plans being thrown around....but upon further thought here it is; When there is health coverage for all ... I will hang my stethoscope and take a day off!

Many health care providers, in cooperation with medical societies, churches and other civic organizations throughout our nation volunteer their time and skills to care for people who fall into the category of uninsured. One such charitable venture is the Oasis clinic, founded by my wife, a concerned nurse. It began over 15 years ago, hosted by our local parish, served by wonderful volunteers throughout the years, a place where countless people who are needy and ill have been treated for free. While it is always a blessing to serve others in the name of Christ, this experience has been quite an eye opener!

The uninsured are not some sort of invisible plague, or a mythical class invoked by liberals in Congress, they are real people for whom the system has failed! Many that we treat in our little clinic work and pay taxes, but are unable to purchase insurance because of prohibitive cost! Even for those who are fortunate enough to work where insurance is offered, the choice is often between health are coverage and food or paying their utilities; no choice at all! Because of this lack of affordable access to even basic care, people often wait despite concerning symptoms, and come to clinic with advanced problems. Some wait until there is no choice but to seek help at a hospital Emergency Room.

Even as we commend all who volunteer, we must acknowledge that the care they are able to offer, though given with competence and caring, is not nearly enough to meet the many needs! While politicians, the rich , the lucky, the elderly and very poor complain about the coverage they do have, our unwillingness to extend that right to others stands out as a stain on our society. The status quo we have lived with keeps people at risk, abuses the good will of people of faith and enables inaction!!!

I am all for choice in healthcare! Choose your hospitals, have choice for your medications choose your doctor..choose me! However, as I see it, that is hardly the issue in our health care fiasco! The issue is that many have no choice at all; it can not get any worse for them! As far as doctors and others who take of their own time, talent and treasure to help the uninsured, it can only improve!

Maybe, when there is universal health care in our country, doctors can actually get paid for the countless hours of free work, that now goes unpaid and unnoticed! And ...just maybe when I am not working I will not have to give up a well deserved day off!!!




stlouismb said...

Thanks for all you do for the uninsured. I hope and pray for the day when there is equal access for all. I could tell you a tale of my own uninsured heart attack. The bill was over $50K. No free clinic for that. :)

PS I will cross post this on my blog if you don't mine, with a link back.

Michelle said...

Even further from utopia will it be if we go the way of Britain or Canada where the huge numbers of unnecessary deaths are embarassing by our standards and the waits for tests and lack of Drs - esp PCPs - is appalling. I'm all for some sort of additional options that provide true competition to bring down rates, and include more uninsured, but not sacrifice quality. A single payor system definitely would not qualify. Despite our current healthcare failings- and there surely are those- if you completely take away the profit incentive, ours will no longer be the country that so many flock to for the latest in scientific advances and R&D. Also, why create yet another inefficient gov't program that goes WAY over budget and is known for sub-par quality? Let's fix the programs we've got before creating more of the same.

Michelle Sotolongo said...

The key is competition, so whatever comes - and I agree fixes are needed - needs to bring competition to the table if we are to keep the highest quality that we've come to enjoy, but control costs. Cuba's healthcare system is definitely not something to aspire to... for every story of access, there are thousands and thousands of people for whom the doctors can't do anything because of lack of supplies, or lack of sanitation, etc. You lost me there. For every person who says they get decent care, there are huge numbers in Europe (not the small percentages who can truly complain in the U.S) who lose life and limbs unnecessarily because they can't get in to be seen in a timely manner. Medicare/Medicaid can function and still provide good care because financed by the rest of the system, allowing quality to be passed along to those in the "socialized" segment of our healthcare. But take competition away entirely, and the outcomes would be very dfferent.

Also, we'll never get it perfect and there will always be a need and place for kind and spiritual people like yourself to offer a helping hand. So don't think you'll be hanging up your stethoscope anytime soon...There are also health departments that offer services to many- of course, because government-run and "free"- the waits are usually very long by U.S. standards. There are also urgent care centers - like the ones where both you and Julio work - that try to fill the gap for many who can afford moderately priced care from time to time, but can't afford monthly insurance premiums. I think a greater stain would be to move toward systems in Europe, which are known to be behind us in terms of quality and timeliness of care. The only thing that distinguishes the U.S. from the rest of the world historically is our greater commitment to free market and competition. Monopolies of any kind are a disaster - except maybe in the case of one God. :-) It's a healthy debate, though

seraph said...

Monopoly Bad...Competition Good...we agree on this! Undoubtedly we have the worlds best health care, for those who can afford it! For those who have limited access it is of little use. Here in our great country, most of my Oasis clinic patients have never graced he halls of the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville... awesome as it is! To be seen there you got ... Read Moreto pay up front! While protecting the right of those who can pay to have access to wonderful care, there has to be an option for those who have no such choice...about 20 -40 million people! On the topic of healthcare, we could always talk about docs and lawyers favorite item...tort!!! .