Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lack of Health Insurance #3 Killer

Jay Weaver, creator of the blog, other people's emergencies: random thoughts of an urban paramedic, talked about the 22 years of the utter heartbreak to the miraculous joy he's encountered as a paramedic on the streets of Boston on the NPR radio show, Here and Now. In the beginning of his career, Jay went on to describe a call from a mother, living in the poorest section of the inner city, whose child had had a bad cough for several weeks.

"At first", Jay said, "I did not understand why anyone would call a paramedic for a cough but I soon realized lack of health insurance gave her very little choice and that she was only trying to protect her child. "

"Why not walk?", said radio host, Robin Young.

Jay went on to explain, "The ambulance was the safest form of transportation due to the stray bullets so common in that area."

The mother and daughter Jay spoke of are not the only ones caught between the destructive path of illness and the destitution of poverty. Using hospital emergency as a form of "health insurance" is the only thing available to some uninsured people and only one of the many hidden costs to having so many uninsured citizens. By not getting the preventive care needed, the uninsured are much more likely to wind up in emergency rooms, where care is much more costly.

"People have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room." -- President Bush, addressing
Uh, Mr. President, emergency care is far more expensive than a doctor visit. Who do you think pays for the high cost of unnecessary emergency care? "We the people" do, of course and we pay out far more than we would if those same people who use emergency care were insured.

Lack of health insurance kills more people than homicide, most types of cancer, and several other killers out there that we try so hard to prevent. Yet, lack of health insurance is the easiest problem to solve, cost the least amount of money to implement and would overall, not only enhance our quality of life but save a hell of a lot of money over time.

"Things are getting worse," Maria Gomez said. "What we are seeing is a lot of people coming in who cannot qualify for government programs." These families earn too much to qualify for free care but don't make enough to pay for their own health insurance, she said.

Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont are the only states that have enacted and are implementing reform plans that seek to achieve near universal coverage of state residents. Twelve states, WA, OR, CA, CO, MN, WI, IL, NM, PA NY, CT, KS, are moving toward health care reform.


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