America, Being Dumb
It’s hard to read an article like this and reconcile it with the fact that America is the wealthiest country in the world.
Layman and her family offer a stark example of the law’s potential impact. Two years ago, her son, then 16, was hit head-on by a speeding driver high on drugs. Her son’s girlfriend was killed; he suffered severe internal injuries and recently underwent colon surgery. Now 18, he will soon age out of Medicaid coverage.
And Layman, a gregarious 38-year-old, recently lost coverage for her own considerable problems. She suffers high blood-pressure, for which she takes three medications, purchased at a discount from the county health office. She suffers sciatica stemming from the time eight years ago when a co-worker at a dollar store let slip a heavy box of wrapping paper Layman was handing up to her. Layman lunged for it and badly hurt her back, for which she takes the nerve-pain medication Lyrica.
She also suffers depression, and has been on Prozac for several years. But during a rough spell last fall, she came close to committing suicide. It was on her return home from a week in the psychiatric hospital that she found a letter from the state saying that, as a result of a bump up in her husband’s disability payments (he was caught in a front-end loader when he was eight years old), she was now ineligible for Medicaid.
Lacking coverage, she has not seen a psychiatrist since her hospital stay. She played this down: “I can recognize my craziness when it gets out of hand.”
Um, no. Unacceptable. Every American should have access to quality health care. We can afford it, several hundred thousand times over. And the bigger problem is if we provide care to people we avoid larger costs down the line. When a patient lets a health situation linger – linger – linger because they can’t afford a doctor’s visit, when it hits the crisis point they will come in to the hospital and taxpayers have to pay for a larger bill.
This doesn’t even consider the immorality of allowing our fellow citizens to live like this.
We can do better. The health care reform law is a good, strong step in the right direction. But we’ve got a whole lot left to do. See here for more.