Sunday, November 29, 2009

When healthcare is all in the luck of the draw and a losing hand can be fatal

Healthcare in America is all in the luck of the draw, and a losing hand can be fatal. Life and death decisions about medical treatment are made not by mythical government-run death panels, but by our patchwork health insurance system of coverage for some and none for others and the way it can end up denying the most basic human right of all to those without.
A Harvard study, to be published next month in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests that almost 45,000 Americans die prematurely each year as a consequence of not having insurance.
That's from Nicholas Kristof's Op-Ed in today's NYT, Are We Going to Let John Die? The study he mentions doesn't include the unnecessary pain, fear and suffering of many thousands of other people. Kristof writes of a heartbreaking case in Oregon that involves not only excruciating 24/7 pain but may well result in one of those premature deaths due to lack of insurance coverage. His column begins this way:
If Joe Lieberman or other senators came across John Brodniak writhing in pain on the sidewalk, they presumably would jump to help him and rush him to a hospital.

Unfortunately, an emergency room won’t help — indeed, the closest E.R. has told him not to come back, he says. So, for those members of Congress who are wavering on health reform, listen to John’s story.
Read John's story at the link. It will break your heart, and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to wonder how this could happen in the richest country in the world. We like to think of ourselves as advanced, but we still practice human sacrifice. How can we sacrifice so many lives each year on the altar of some kind of free-market ideology?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

May be of interest...

National Health Care Reform: Acting Nationally, Impacting Locally - What Will It Mean For You?
Monday, December 14, 2009
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Union Theater Memorial Union
Cost: Free
Registration is required. Register to attend at
As part of the Forward Thinking speaker series, American Family Insurance and the Wisconsin School of Business will bring together a panel of hospital and medical professionals to discuss the impact of national health care reform on local heath care in your community.

Sarah Carlson
NBC 15 Morning Show Anchor - Health and Family Reporter

Healthcare Panelists:

Dr. Frank Byrne
President, St. Mary’s Hospital

Dr. Jeffrey Grossman
President and CEO, University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation

Donna Katen-Bahensky
President and CEO, University of Wisconsin Hospital

Dr. Geoffrey Priest
Chief Medical Officer, Meriter Hospital

Lon Sprecher
President and COO, Dean Health Insurance

Jim Woodward
President and CEO, Meriter Hospital