Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For richer or for poorer: Health care in the U.S.

Grrrrraaaahhhhh!!!! That's what I think about health care in the United States. I get FIRED UP when I hear about children who were denied appropriate health care simply because of their socioeconomic status (SES).
According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, about 6.5 million children enrolled in Medicaid had untreated tooth decay in 2005 and were nearly twice as likely as children with private health insurance to have untreated tooth decay. According to a article, "the report was ordered after widespread publicity of the case of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy boy who died last year in suburban Washington when an untreated infected tooth led to a brain infection." Driver "had extensive dental disease and his family was unable to find a dentist to treat him," the report said.
Does that fire up anyone else? A boy DIED because he couldn't get proper dental care???!!!
The report also states that 14.8 percent of Medicaid recipients said their children had not received necessary dental care because their dentist refused to accept Medicaid, which typically pays providers less than private insurers. Grrrraaaahhhhhh!!!!!!
When did health care become an institution of profit, profit, profit??? How can we allow young people (or any person) to suffer simply because they fall victim to a backwards system where money and profit are put before health and well-being. Oh, this makes me mad.
Yes, there are other factors to be considered. A family with low SES might have less available time to take their children to a dentist every 6 months. Individuals with low SES might also be less educated therefore they might not understand the importance of seeing a dentist on a regular basis. But anyone in their right mind knows that, in general, the poor are not receiving the same caliber of health care as the rich. 
But ask yourself this question, does the child of a restaurant dishwasher deserve the same access to appropriate health care as the child of a medical surgeon?
Probably the greatest factor in all this is health insurance. It is no secret that insurance is a for-profit industry. But does for-profit have to mean crazy-outlandish-millions-and-billions-of-dollars kind of profit??? It makes me sick.
I realize that I am generalizing and pointing fingers at an industry that can be beneficial. My son, a perfectly healthy six-month old, has visited his pediatrician four times since coming home from the hospital, and we have not had to pay a penny out of pocket. I am thankful. But I also understand how fortunate my family is to have a great insurance plan through my husband's employer. I wonder if I would be as grateful if my son was not perfectly healthy and needed to see costly specialists and receive expensive treatments. 
What about those parents who aren't as fortunate? What about those parents who have children enrolled in Medicaid and they are waiting hours in an overcrowded and understaffed urgent care just so their injured or sick son can see a physician's assistant? 
Let's take a hard look at health care in this country. Let's think about how we can better the lives of not just our own children, but all children. 
I urge you to consider what roll profit plays in life or death situations, and what could have been different to save the life of that young boy who merely had an infected tooth.

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