Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I read in comments associated with another weblog this weekend that some Libertarian’s don’t believe that everyone has the right to basic health care in this country. I will admit I was surprised by this. I had assumed that we are all agreed that health care should be accessible to all people, but disagreed in how it would be provided. I wasn’t aware that there was a group of Libertarians who believe that basic health care is not a right.
When Ashcroft was diagnosed with gallbladder problems a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of my own problems with a large (undiagnosed) gallstone that went untreated for close to two years until I had insurance and could have my gallbladder removed. As I watched all the fuss being made over Ashcroft, I thought about how different the situation would be if he was uninsured, and even considered writing something about this.
Luckily, Dan Frosch at AlterNet did a much better job than I could have:
While it’s almost impossible to figure out the exact figure on Ashcroft’s bill, one can estimate. Five days in an ICU unit alone at Providence Hospital in Washington, for example, would run up to $30,000. And then there’s the laparoscopic gall bladder surgery and the five days in recovery – which could cost an additional $28,000 (according to Fairview University Medical Center in Minneapolis). But there are still all the expert doctors who’ve visited him daily and have their own separate charges. That price tag might run Ashcroft as much as $5000 for the ten days he’s in the hospital, says Dr. Quentin Young, PNHP’s National Coordinator and former Director of Medicine at Cook County Hospital. Using such rough estimates, Ashcroft is told he’ll have to fork over at least $63,000.
According to this article, over 18,000 people die every year because they don’t get the medical attention they need until it’s too late. Hard to believe when this country prides itself on the medical care it provides to other nations.
What didn’t surprise me about the conversation is how ill-informed these people were about the state of health care in this country. There were assumptions that the only people who don’t have health care were poor; that anyone needing health care could get this at some ‘local charity clinic’; that COBRA coverage was available to everyone; that only five percent of the American people don’t have health care coverage (it’s closer to 20%).
There was also the usual discussion about socialized medicine being inefficient.
I have to laugh at this because my bill for my dental surgery I had in the beginning of December still hasn’t been paid, this with the ‘efficient private care sytem’ we so enjoy in the United States.
What happened is the company I have COBRA through changed providers unexpectedly, and I had the surgery three days after the switch. When the doctor put in the claim, it was denied because there was …a mixup in the paperwork at the time. When I got the bill from the doctor with the note that the claim was denied, I called the insurance company and they reprocessed the claim. About a month later I got a cc letter from the company asking my doctor for x-rays; the claim wouldn’t be processed until they had the x-rays. I called the doctor, and they said the x-rays had been sent…with the original claim. Most likely tossed out, too, by the insurance company.
At this moment, almost four months later, the bill still hasn’t been paid while the Catch 22 game is played between the insurance company and the doctor, and now I’m being told by the doctor that I’ll most likely have to pay the bill, even though I was insured, because it is ..my problem.
Now, what was that about the efficiency of socialized medicine?
Returning to the comments from this weekend, in the end the discussion kept coming back to a belief that no one has a right to basic health care.
I am reminded of the earliest form of home insurance in this country. Homes so insured had metal plaques nailed to the sides of the homes, and if they were to catch fire, the subscription-funded fire department would put out the fire. However, if the house was not insured, it would burn down to the ground white the department watched.
If we believe that basic health care is not a right, then basic fire protection and other emergency services shouldn’t be either. Seems fair to me, and just think how much those Libertarians would save on local taxes.
(Thanks to Feministe for pointer to the story).