Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sicko and Our Failing Healthcare System

Recently I had the opportunity to see Sicko, a documentary directed by Michael Moore about the American health care system. Several people from different states had been urging me to see this eye-opening film, and indeed it is. Eye-opening. I urge everyone to see Sicko, which has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Some of the things you can expect to learn from the film (or perhaps you already know or are maybe already living it):

  • Approximately 50 million Americans are without health insurance, and 18000 will die because they cannot afford treatment.
  • We are ranked 37th in health care by the World Health Organization. Our infant mortality rate is higher than many other western countries, and our longevity isn’t as long.
  • Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent convincing us that our health system is the best, that it isn’t broken and that it doesn’t need fixed.In fact, it’s estimated that $100 million was spent to defeat First Lady Hillary Clinton’s universal health care plan.

The statistics are staggering, and the reality hits hard. I personally know of a woman with a fibroid tumor and in tremendous pain, who does not have health insurance and cannot afford the astronomical costs of surgery. She is forced to suffer and endure. But she is one of the lucky ones, and will soon be eligible for her employer provided health insurance. For her, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For many others, there isn’t.

For over three years now, I have had the privilege to pay outrageously high premiums for individual health care policies for my family. To keep costs down, we elected high deductibles and hoped for the best. This year our luck ran out. I’ll know more precisely after filing my income taxes in the upcoming weeks, but I estimate we have medical expenses in the neighborhood of $15,000 this year following an ambulance ride and a one-week hospital stay. Yes, and we are one of the lucky ones that had insurance!

Today I was sent an email with a link to a video about autistic children. In it I learned that many, or more likely most, healthcare plans do not cover the necessary therapy that these children need. What’s most sad is that with autistic children the results are more effective and far reaching the earlier the therapy begins, but yet our healthcare system delays diagnosis and adopts a “wait and see” mentality, all the while losing precious time for these kids.

Healthcare reform must occur! Americans’ deserve better than this!

While he certainly isn’t getting the press or attention of Hillary or Obama on the Democratic side, I bring up John Edwards now. I recently read his plans on health care, and I must admit I was impressed. Here is a candidate that I believe understands the need for change and the best way to get there. He is proposing a public/private combination that should truly spur competition and provide health care for all.

Well I guess not having written for most of the month of January, I am certainly making up for it here. Let me close by saying we still live in a democratic society and as such, we can still make a difference. Go rent Sicko (it’s available at Blockbuster), urge your representatives to support healthcare reform, and maybe listen a little closer to John Edwards’ healthcare plan. We are supposed to be the greatest nation in the world. Isn’t it time we stand up to the greedy and live our pledge, “…with justice and liberty for all.”


DiannaBanana said...

Hi Sheryl,
Love your blog!
My husband and I were also depressed after watching SICKO, probably because we've watched 3 elderly members of our own family descend into poverty as every cent they've saved has been sucked up by the eldercare and assisted living services they so desperately need. We stand by powerless to help them, awaiting the day when one of us develops some chronic condition that will wipe out our own savings. Has this crisis gone beyond the ability of Hilary, Barack or John to handle? Are we kidding ourselves? We have both decided that if either one develops cancer, we will move to Canada to seek treatment.

Sheryl Tuttle said...

Isn't it a shame? Our healthcare system needs a complete overhaul, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. I've always wanted to visit Canada! :)