Monday, March 22, 2010

Health insurance reform

There has been a lot said about health insurance reform. Certainly the politicians went on and on and on about it. And certainly everyone in the Facebook-o-sphere has been posting stuff pretty incindiary on both sides (seriously, people). I have nothing to add except my own personal rant du jour about it. Which I can do. Because I control the keypad (at least I do between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.).
I am for insurance/health reform. I am for this because I have children and I believe American children everywhere should have good, quality health care if they are ever going to have a chance to make something of themselves. This all came to me because I have seen first hand how insurance makes a difference in the growth and development of kids. Take Andy. He had bad ear infections. If I hadn't had insurance, he wouldn't have gone to the doctor 2,700 times for antibiotics. He wouldn't have necessarily had all those ear infections treated and eventually the tubes put in so he could, you know, hear and learn to process words and language skills. If he hadn't had all that, there's a good chance he would have been language delayed. It would have taken years for him to catch up, if he ever did.

I think about kids with less resources. Those kids have the same problem and enter school with a language delay. Because they're poor, they probably go to a crappy school and have fewer resources there, too, which puts him further behind his peers like Andy. By the time he finishes school, if he does, he's now several years behind a kid like Andy. That's not to say other things wouldn't have been a factor, but if giving him antibiotics would have fixed it, why not? It's a relatively cheap fix with such a serious positive upside for the entire country.

I also work in cancer care. I hear stories from the doctors I work with all the time about how lack of insurance keeps patients from being diagnosed earlier. That means they present with a worse disease and likely have worse outcomes. It probably also costs our healthcare system even more than the insurance would just paying for their Medicaid claims while we spend $250,000 on end of life care when if they'd had insurance, a $50,000 treatment regimen would have cured it. In fact, the American Cancer Society several years ago began a campaign lobbying for health reform because the simple fact of having insurance makes a person significantly more likely to beat the disease than without -- far more than any new screening, mobile mammogram program, surgical or radiation treamtent.

So, yes, I do think it's a good thing. I'm not sure about it being an entitlement. I'm not sure health care is a right per se. I'm not sure how much it's going to cost in the long run. But something had to be done and I'm proud of this big first step.

Rant over.

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