Thursday, January 25, 2007

An observation on health care

I was reminded this week of a conversation I had over the holidays with a person I could only describe as privileged dude who doesn't give a shit about the less fortunate.

He was griping about how socialized medicine is an awful evil, etc. He also suggested the good ol' U.S. of A is way better because of the wonderful health care we "all" have access to.

I responded that to me, it seems there is a simple marker for whether you are rich (one that doesn't have anything to do with your income, either): Do you have health insurance? If you do, you're rich. If not, you're fucked.

That said, there's another level of this kind of wealth (this one is partly monetary) that I can see now. If you live in our city (population 30,000), you can get pretty good care, but if you are willing/able to drive to Seattle or Portland and also are a proactive patient, you can get much better care.

This isn't an abstraction. Someone I know very well indeed is due for surgery, come hell or high water. If this person had not taken the time to learn about the situation, that surgery would have been done here in town and have been pretty invasive (i.e. the kind that leaves a four-inch scar and takes six weeks to recover from).

Luckily, that person is informed and is a good self-advocate and is able to travel to the larger city, where a less-invasive procedure (in on Friday, back at work Monday, the optimists say) is de rigeur.

So you can only get adequate care if you have this huge stack of factors on your side. And that pretty much blows.

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