Everyone, at some time in his or her life, will need to seek medical care. The American health care system is a billion dollar industry, and it discards people that can’t afford its services. The current health care system is divided into two groups–health care for the insured and no health care or limited care for the uninsured. The kind of medical and personal care that an individual receives under the current American health care system depends on the person’s insurance status. In the land of equal opportunity, segregation is still practiced.
It is a well known fact that people that have health insurance receive much better medical and personal treatment from health care providers than people that don’t have health insurance. The insured are treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, the uninsured are treated with indifference and disdain. For uninsured people, obtaining health care can be an extremely demoralizing and frustrating experience.
When a person calls a medical practitioner for an appointment, the first question of the medical office staff is if the person has health insurance. If the person doesn’t have health insurance, the attitude of the office staff changes dramatically. A lot of times the person is asked abrasive and invasive financial questions. Cash payment is requested before the visit will be scheduled, or at the time of the visit prior to services being provided. Some medical offices refuse to provide medical care if there is no health insurance and the person is unable to pay cash in advance. Uninsured people seeking medical care face embarrassment because they cannot pay in full for medical services without benefit of a monthly payment plan. They are made to feel like their health does not matter because they are uninsured.
In some hospitals and physician’s offices, the type of medical care that is rendered to uninsured patients is much different the medical care that is provided to insured patients. During a personal interview with Carolyn Hagan, an uninsured Oregon resident, it was revealed just how shoddily uninsured patients are treated. According to Hagan, because she doesn’t have health insurance, she is unable to obtain the necessary medical care for her heart condition. Hagan stated, “I have so much trouble getting medical care because I am uninsured, and I can’t afford the cost of health insurance. I can’t afford the high cost of the medical tests that I need. None of the doctors will treat me except for occasional brief checkups because I am not profitable to them. Every health insurance company that I contacted to see if I could get insurance refused to insure me because I have heart trouble. I have had to cancel medical tests because funding that I applied for to help with the cost became unavailable. The care that I need is expensive, and it is so frustrating because no one is willing to help me. I feel like no one cares.”
Hagan is a productive American citizen that works and pays taxes, and she is among the working middle class that is wrongfully victimized by the American health care system. Due to health insurance company exclusions, she is not insurable, and she is unable to pay cash in advance for the care that she needs. What the current health care system in America is telling her is that even though she is a hard working American citizen, she doesn’t matter because she can’t help increase the bottom line of the health care industry.
Many practitioners refuse to work with uninsured people, and won’t allow them to pay for medical care on a monthly payment plan. This additional exclusion prevents thousands of Americans from obtaining necessary health care. The American health care system has become so convoluted and expensive that American citizens are forced to seek health care outside the United States. Places like Argentina, Singapore, Manila, Bangalore, and Costa Rica provide high quality, low cost health care to American citizens that America should be providing to its own people.
American society is insurance poor–people are unable to get health insurance. Private insurance policies are too expensive for most people to afford, and the policies that are affordable to people of middle class and lower are frequently inadequate in the medical services that they cover. American insurance companies have exclusions that prevent many people from qualifying for health insurance even though having the insurance would prevent further illness and allow maintenance for current illness, consequently reducing medical costs.
America has some of the best trained medical professionals, and the cost of their education is enormous. No one can expect them not to make a good living at their profession; however, the migration of medical care to countries outside the United States is a glaring indication that the American health care system needs to be revamped and made affordable to everyone.
There have been many attempts at health care reform in America; by the time it finally happens, there might not be enough people seeking medical care in the United States for the reform to make any difference. America will still be health care poor while other countries will be getting rich by providing Americans the health care that America places beyond reach.
© Copyright 2007 Patti McMann. All rights reserved.
Patti McMann is a freelance writer. She writes on a variety of topics for pri