Healthspan Blog

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The debate on health insurance and access to healthcare for Americans

17th May 2007

I recently heard from a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry whose wife is a physician. This is what he has to say about healthcare in the US:

The healthcare system is broken. The people with good insurance think it’s just fine – who cares about the people who can’t afford it, the people out of work, those with a catastrophic illness that outstrips their insurance, etc. This is too big a topic to cover in a few paragraphs, but every citizen should have as much a right ti healthcare as they do to military defense, roads, education, a police force, etc. People shouldn’t die or become disable because they don’t belong to the privileged class. Nobody thinks the government will make it more efficient, that’s not the issue, the issue is the right to be able to continue with life and limb no matter what your income status.

The opposing point of view would go something like this:

A “right” to healthcare? Hospitals are already forbidden to deny lifesaving care to indigent patients. What you’re saying is that the people who made education and employment decisions that resulted in their getting healthcare are obligated to pay for quality care for those who did not.

There’s actually not much debate on that point but there is still plenty of debate on what the real point is:

You’re right about the “indigent” population, in fact I can testify that many of them actually abuse the system. What I am talking about are cases I personally know of involving college educated people, out of a job, and unable to get care or medication for chronic conditions such as lupus, because although an emergency room will take care of them when they reach an acute or critical stage, they will still get a bill for thousands of dollars and be in debt for so long that it doesn’t pay them to ever get a job. So they risk their health and well being until they have no choice and wind up in an ambulance. This is a bunch of garbage spouted by people who are well insured.

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