Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chinese Cherry

You hear stories, and a couple years ago a nurse who then worked in a well-regarded east valley hospital told me about a cardiac patient in their emergency room.

They gave the patient aspirin and started a nitroglycerine intravenous infusion, which reduced the patient's chest pain. Then, because they needed the room in the E.R., they sent the patient back out to sit in the lobby, there to presumably either wait for a hospital bed in an intensive care or telemetry unit, or to infarct completely and code in a chair.

Lately Rebecca has been doing a good job of regularly demolishing the not-so-brilliant letters-to-the-editor often gracing the Arizona Republic. We must commend her for taking on such a task, and doing it well. I also personally thank her for apparently saving this one for me. So writes Bob from Prescott Valley:

"Regarding "Code blue for health care" (Republic, Jan. 4):

I find it hard to believe that 81 percent of 602 registered voters polled want universal health care."

I don't.

What's really hard to believe is that so many people still relish the idea of paying exhorbitant insurance premiums, skewed upwards by the fact that those must cover not just the insured and his family, but care for all those who remain without the blessed grace of high insurance costs: 45 million uninsured fellow Americans.

Let us remember that your premiums pay me to care for the uninsured as well as you.

"Are they ignorant of what has transpired in Canada and Great Britain since they instituted health care provided by the government? I have read about the waiting lists for heart surgery and other necessary operations. Also, research and development are stifled by lack of competition. "

Well, for elective surgeries, people wait a little here in the States, too. And if you don't have insurance at all, are you on a waiting list? Not here. But in Canada you are. Unless it's an emergent situation, then surgery is performed immediately. And it's paid for. Free. Ha-ha. Free.

"In British Columbia, more than 400,000 hospital-based surgeries and treatments are performed each year. If you need surgery or treatment that is not an emergency, you will be placed on a wait list. An individual who needs emergency surgery does not go on a waitlist; they receive treatment without delay."

So while you are sitting in a local emergency room, titrating your tridil drip yourself to reduce chest pain and maintain a systolic blood pressure of at least 90, you can kill some time waiting for a hospital bed by reading about Wait Times in Canada by clicking on the link.

Carping about wait times for surgery is ridiculous in light of the millions of uninsured here for whom the only waiting list is the one we are all on: to heaven's gates, with a stop at the E.R. to run up a bill first.

The issue is a canard, and has been debunked many times over, but Rush and rest of the well-insured propaganda slime machine bobble-heads keep repeating the same nonsense anyways, so no wonder the poor guy who wrote this LTTE finds himself repeating it. That's what happens when you drink the kool-aid.

I should stop saying that. I used to really like kool-aid when I was a kid. Now we drink seltzer. Hardly as nostalgic, but sucrose-free.

The letter-writer goes on to spout more parroted lies and untruths:

"We have to quit looking for the government to provide for our needs from cradle to grave. We know from recent history that the government cannot do these kinds of things without making them more expensive."

What a hoot! Of course if we turn over American healthcare to Halliburton through a no-bid government contract then the costs will be even more astronomic, but that will never happen because sick people have no large reserves of petroleum.

The opposite of what the letter claims is really true: Medicare overhead and administrative costs are far lower than what is found in the private insurance industry. Here is a typical article outlining the real numbers.

"Currently, Medicare incurs only 2% for administrative costs and does not need to advertise or pay commissions. According to Bernstein, private insurance spends considerably more on advertising and management. Administrative costs run as high as 30% because providers and insurers have to employ large staffs to cope with thousands of different plans for billions of billings a year. Similarly, federal and state public needs-tested programs must determine whether applicants meet the different programs' eligibility criteria, and these administrative costs run about 7% above Medicare's."

I thought everybody knew that.

From that same article comes this in the next paragraph, and perhaps it explains why so many of the people in that poll say they want universal healthcare:

"Medicare-for-All would eliminate the need to ascertain eligibility for billions of billings," Bernstein says. "Shifting employer, federal and state funds already earmarked for medical care to the new plan would provide huge savings and coverage for the uninsured."

The article also goes on to note that if healthcare were universal here, even your automobile and home insurance premiums would go down, because you would no longer need liability insurance medical care coverage. I'll bet the letter-writer had too much Rush-slush in his head to think of that.

Do the math, Bob, and try Google. And for pete's sake, stop drinking that kool-aid. It rots the brain.


Jane Arizona said...

Well, for elective surgeries, people wait a little here in the States, too.

I had a bad infection. My doctor said she could see me in six weeks. I called my old doctor and offered to pay her cash to see me. She said she can't accept cash.

What kind of fucked-up country do we live in where people cannot accept CASH for services rendered?

It's called a cartel. If you have shit insurance, like FHP, you are relegated to seeing ACCHS doctors, even if you're making $50K a year... and waiting in line with the uninsured. My coworkers, highly-paid software professionals, were taking their kids to the county for vaccinations because nobody would take our insurance.

shrimplate said...

There are nurses working for some of the largest healthcare providers (hospitals) in the state who also take their kids to the county clinic for vaccinations.

When I said that bit about waiting "a little" for things like elective surgeries, I knew I'd catch a few. I'm glad you saw into that.

It's getting so that your doctor is NOT the person you go to for an acute illness. For those, you get out the checkcard and go to Urgent Care.

You only go to "your doctor" if you need a specialist, so your primary care provider can refer you to the kind of doctor you really need depending on which of your organs is most ill.

Doctors hate this. Hospitals hate this. Believe me, nurses hate this. Nobody likes it.

The problem is compounded by local shortages of doctors/nurses/beds here in the valley.

You think this will get better? Ask Len Munsil.

I jest.

Becca said...

Rush Slush ... hahahaha

Must've given him a brain freeze.

Becca said...

Seriously, though, I agree with you completely. You make a damned good case for universal health care (an issue that I rejected a mere decade ago).

MEC said...

Excellent post, shrimplate, especially because it makes a point too many people (want to) ignore: a few people being inconvenienced should be more acceptable than a whole lotta people dying because they can't afford health care. Being able to survive medical emergencies isn't a privilege, dammit.

lily@losethenoose said...

Great post, shrimplate and comments- well stated.

Nurse2B said...

Excellent post, thanks!

MEC said...

Shrimplate, I recommended this post of your in a post of my own.

Chuck said...

Very nicely said. Thanks for the links and especially your words of truth! The situation is (has been) beyond ridiculous.

This country is long overdue for a wake-up call in so many areas!

Birdy said...

In a related vein, I was interested to read this article about the racial disparity in the outcomes of cardiovascular surgery. More research needed. I'm willing to speculate.

Becca said...

You seem to forget that people like "Bob" prefer to spout their gut reactions and ideology without educating themselves first. You can pretty much witness the same by watching Fox News.

Keep on keepin' on.