Healthcare in the U.S.

2008-10-02 by

The United States is currently in a period of great turmoil and difficulty. We are experiencing financial collapse, which experts are starting to compare to the Great Depression. Banks and businesses are failing, unemployment is high, and inflation is out of control.

Unfortunately when times get hard, it is generally the citizens with the fewest resources who suffer the most, and, in this case, it is certainly people with disabilities. I have recently corresponded with many U.S. legislators about the situation people with disabilities are experiencing. In the responses I have received, those legislators say that they are sympathetic, but there simply isn’t any money to make any changes at this point. But they promise changes when the financial situation improves. For many people with disabilities, that will be too late.

Let’s start with health care

Our health care system is a privately owned system. Hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies are all for-profit and the mighty dollar is paramount. Health insurance hopefully comes as a benefit of employment or is privately obtained through purchase.

However, the cost of such insurance is prohibitive. The cost to insure a person with a disability keeps rising and rising. At present, it averages $800 per month. As a result, more and more employers are no longer offering health insurance to their employees or they are discriminating against and not hiring employees with disabilities so they don’t have to pay the high premiums. As a result, there are significant numbers of people in the United States without any health insurance.

Even if you do have insurance, many insurance policies are inadequate. Most insurance companies do whatever they can to avoid paying for anything and a person must spend an astronomical amount of time arguing with their insurance company. When I was insured, I was unable to get my insurance company to pay for my wheelchair. I am unable to walk through a grocery store, but I am able to walk a short distance inside of my home. All insurance companies in the U.S. say if you can walk in your home at all, even if it is just for a few steps, you don’t need a wheelchair. So I had to pay for my wheelchair out-of-pocket. I was unable to afford it and put it on my credit card. Literally, thousands and thousands of similar stories could be told.

What if you don’t have heath insurance?

First of all, you will be charged more for health care. If a person with no insurance goes to the hospital and receives the same procedure as a person with insurance, the person without insurance will be charged a much higher rate than the person with insurance, EVEN BEFORE the insurance is applied.

And those expenses are getting out of control. I no longer have health insurance and I recently went into the emergency room at my local hospital for a need which required a blood test, a urine test, and a three minute exam. I went to the emergency room because no doctor’s office would see me without insurance. (The emergency room has turned into one of the only places a person without insurance can get health care.) For my two simple tests and three minute exam, I was charged $3000, much more than a person with insurance would be charged.

Medicaid and Medicare

We do have a couple of government programs designed to help people without insurance, namely Medicaid and Medicare. However, frequently a person’s ability to access Medicaid or Medicare is based on income and if you make any money at all, you don’t qualify.

I’m attempting to qualify for a Medicaid program for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses which is based on the need for health care, not on bizarre income limits. I filled out one lengthy application and sent it in. Then I was sent another application with slightly different questions. I filled out that application and sent it in. Then I needed a home visit from a nurse. Next, they sent me a third application with slightly different questions. I filled that in and mailed it last week. I have no idea what happens next. Nobody seems to know what the process is. However, so far I have spent three months on this and I have no idea when I might actually receive services.

Keep in mind, however, that Medicaid and Medicare don’t cover much either. They also won’t pay for a wheelchair if you can walk only two steps in your home. Doesn’t matter that you can’t walk in the grocery store or walk at your job. Medicaid and Medicare set the standard that the private insurance companies follow.

There are some nonprofit clinics available to provide health care for the uninsured and low income. Don’t try to go to one if anything is urgent, though. Application procedures exist and sometimes it can take six weeks or longer to get an appointment.

So once again, we are back to receiving health care in the emergency room. Sometimes the waits are bizarre. You show up as a walk-in patient and you may wait five, six, or seven hours to be seen at some places in the U.S.

Also keep in mind that private insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, and nonprofit clinics do not cover alternative health care. I have found acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs to be significantly more helpful to me than prescription pharmaceuticals for multiple sclerosis. However, nobody covers acupuncture or Chinese herbs. It costs me $150 a month to receive the acupuncture treatments and herbs I need to keep me functioning. Nobody covers that. However, when I did traditional health care and pharmaceuticals, which made me sicker and sicker, the cost was $2500 a month for pharmaceuticals and another $350 a month for doctor appointments. Why do insurance companies and Medicaid/Medicare prefer paying $2850 a month for traditional care over $150 for alternative care?

Keep in mind that insurance companies will probably find some way to get out of paying the $2850 a month anyway. When I was insured, they were endlessly spouting reasons why charges weren’t covered.

The health care system in the United States is broken

If you have a lot of money, you can pay for and receive some of the best health care in the world. If you are not wealthy, you don’t get adequate health care.

I am currently not receiving the health care I need and as a result, my physical condition is deteriorating. So, how does health care in the United Kingdom compare?

Comment [7]

Top of page