Saturday, August 22, 2009

What really is wrong with America's health services?

In some respects it is quite sad to read the right-wing ranting of the US Right (aren't they always?) against the Obama administration's attempts to make something of the "health system".

First question that comes to the probligo's rather twisted mind is the perennial "Why does it need fixing? Every administration in living memory has tried to fix - with varying degrees of success - America's "public health system".

Be clear here, if the proposals of the Obama administration is patterned on the British National Health then America has every right to "be afraid, very afraid". But that does not answer or avoid the question.

OK, first up is this -
As the Remote Area Medical Foundation’s huge, free health clinic winds up its eight-day run at the Forum in Inglewood this evening, organizers said they expected to be able to treat all patients who were given wristbands – or refer them to doctors who will provide free care.

During the organization’s first venture into a large, urban city -- and its longest-running health clinic in its 25-year history -- volunteer dentists and doctors helped deliver free medical care to thousands of patients. Many seeking care camped out overnight or slept in their cars; hundreds of others were turned away. Some had traveled from as far as San Francisco and Phoenix for the chance to be treated.

Final tallies were not available, but doctors performed an array of medical services, from root canals and mammograms to HIV tests and the dispensing of free eyeglasses.

Those final tallies are posted on Ramusa's website -
RAM LA Results

The following totals are from patient records in hand and, due to an unknown number of misplaced papers and lost data, are lower than actual numbers.

6,344 patients registered for 14,561 patient encounters (approximately 2.3 services per patient)

3,827 volunteers, largely non-medical support (It is believed that patient encounters could have doubled if medical professionals licensed in states other than California had been allowed to volunteer their services at this clinic.)

3,182 dental patients – 2, 274 teeth extracted and 5,438 teeth saved, 1,889 cleanings

2,266 vision care patients with 1,984 pairs of prescription eyeglasses made on site and fitted

8,775 general medical visits

Total value of care: $2,821,383

Thanks to everyone who made it possible for so many to receive so much during Remote Area Medical’s 8-day free clinic at The Forum in Inglewood, CA.

All that in 8 days.

But what is this saying? This is their Mission Statement -
The Remote Area Medical® (RAM) Volunteer Corps is a non-profit, volunteer, airborne relief corps dedicated to serving mankind by providing free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world.
Founded in 1985, Remote Area Medical® is a publicly supported all-volunteer charitable organization. Volunteer doctors, nurses, pilots, veterinarians and support workers participate in expeditions (at their own expense) in some of the world's most exciting places. Medical supplies, medicines, facilities and vehicles are donated.

OK, so Inglewood, CA is a remote part of the US, huh!

The other side of this came (serendipitously) through me old mates at ALD.

What are the alternatives to public (read government) health resources? Obviously, "private" providers. Capitalism in action. And this is how it works . OK, I accept that Wendell Potter might have a few irons to heat, but if a half of what he says is fact then it gives a fairly chilling picture.
...Potter, who is from Tennessee, read in a local paper about a free healthcare expedition being held in Wise County, Virginia. He decided to check it out. Walking through the fairground gates, Potter saw hundreds of people waiting in the rain while physicians attended to patients in animal stalls or on gurneys lying on the rain-soaked pavement. Tents had been pitched across the fairground lawns, creating a scene “like something that could’ve been happening on a battlefield or in a war-torn country.” Tears mixed with the rain to cloud Potter’s vision. “What I thought was: ‘Is this the United States?’ It was so remote from my reality. It just seemed impossible.”

RAM in action again...

But the most chilling thought expressed by Potter rings with total clarity in my personal experience of health insurance here in NZ.

Why are there so many in the US who do not have (private) health insurance? Many to most probsbly can not afford it. That simple.

Potter also provides a good reason why some people can not afford private insurance.

It is because they have been priced off the market... Read the whole interview.

No comments: