Now mind you the elderly and disabled are covered with hospitalization and prescription coverage by Medicare and the poor by Medicaid. Even those who need emergency surgeries but don't generally meet Medicaid requirements can get temporary access for those situations (I have an example if you doubt me). On top of that Meijer offers a number of free antibiotics, WalMart (yes evil though many of you think it is) offers the top 400 Medicare prescriptions (not yet nationwide) for $4 per prescription. Plus every major pharm company offers discounts and significantly reduced drugs if you simply call them for their free discount cards.
Also don't tell me poor people can't afford insurance because I obtained private insurance through Blue Care Network for $80 billed six times per year, which has a thousand dollar deductible. If you can afford to smoke, drink, club, have fully featured cable TV, high speed internet, gamble, cell phones, or maintain any other vice, then you can afford eighty bucks every two months for insurance (at least if you get the plan I got). Plus if you're truly "poor" or "low income" and especially if you have a "dependant" you have access to free and/or greatly subsidized housing (provided by me and you thank you very much). Additionally if you are "poor" or "low income" you get free food via foodstamps to further offset your income allowing you more purchasing power for things like insurance (Bridge Card for you in Rio Linda). By the way, I had access to the bridge card for 2003-05 though I didn't accept it (the point here being I doubt any of you would consider me poor).
The problem is that people are so inundated with blanket statements by politicians and news outlets that proclaim healthcare is outrageous, out of reach, completely unattainable if the government or your employer doesn't pay every drop of it that people simply take those statements as gospel. Even when I've brought up the fact that I obtained private, individual coverage simply by flipping through the yellow pages and making a couple calls to insurances companies my coworkers at the ER looked upon me with amazement. It would never have occured to them to try to get insurance directly rather than through the hospital. Americans have been brainwashed to believe that not only is healthcare an entitlement (i.e. something you should get for free) but the only way to get it is if someone else makes sure it's paid for (your employer or your government). I can't help rolling my eyes at people bitching about a ten dollar copay. It's like saying Cingular and Verizon shouldn't charge you overages when you go over by $500 simply because you've never gone over before.
Further thanks to a little ACT passed 21 years ago this year called EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) everyone has immediate and unquestioned access to healthcare and medicine regardless of ability to pay. Simply stroll into an emergency room whether you're simply drug seeking, or drugged up/boozed up and need a bed to sleep in and some IV fluid bolus with multivitamin additives, or you have an itchy crotch, a leaky/dischargy crotch, or some odd rashy crotch, or you have a genuine emergency you will be seen and receive any and all treatment. YAY! No more making an appointment with a Dr. By the way guess where the hospitals that are able to stay open shift the cost of caring for those who don't pay? Onto those who pay their bills!
Thanks to EMTALA and the burden of not enforcing our immigration laws leading to the influx of illegal immigrants we incur serious problems to our healthcare system. About 90% of illegal immigrants are uninsured. Over one-third of all hospitalizations for illegal immigrant Latinos were for childbirth--costing between $7,000 to $18,000 each. This childbirth hospitalization rate is twice as high as the rate for all other women in the U.S.. Seven to twelve percent of illegal immigrants reported they had been hospitalized at least once overnight or longer in the U.S. during the last 12 months. Nationally, 8.5 percent of adult Latinos were hospitalized in the previous 12-month period. An article by medical lawer Madeleine Pelner in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons concluded that the burden of illegal immigrants on the health care system in the US has forced many hospitals to close due to unpaid bills and the unfunded mandate of EMTALA . Between 1993 and 2003, 60 hospitals in California alone were forced to close, and many others had to reduce staff or implement other procedures which reduced the level of service they could provide. The article attributes most of these closings mainly to illegal immigration and their uncompensated medical costs (This paragraph and it's data obtained from wikipedia on the EMTALA page).
There are problems with America's health system, but I believe it's mostly that people are allowed to be completely unaccountable for their health until it is so poor their fellow citizens get to take care of them. We should switch away from treating when you're sick, to preventing you from getting sick. That's when people get into trouble. You develop an expensive, economically catastrophic illness requiring intensive, expensive medical intervention. Where do you turn? Big Brother. The answer isn't to tear it down and hand it over to a bloated bureaucracy. Simple things to do to improve matters are health savings accounts allowing you to use pretax money to put aside to save for all your health needs. In addition deregulating interstate health insurance and allowing for nationwide pools rather than state or local insurance groupings would greatly increase the number of people considered when setting rates which would inevitably lower premiums by not concentrating the insurance pools.
But that will be another post. Let's stick to our current system versus universal, single payer, big government systems. I believe that most if not all of you more than likely know little to nothing about how Canada/European systems run. I realise the news and liberals run around praising all other healthcare systems and poo-poing on America's but those are just bandwagon slogans. I've been told a few times by classmates/associates/coworkers about "friends" who either are or know people from other countries that profess the wonders of universal health systems but I doubt those people have actually needed extensive care in those systems.
I've run accross a simple website which gives facts and figures of Canadian/UK/Europe citing the facts of life in these systems being: waiting lists, massive governemental controls, rationing of care, huge taxation on income with massive shortfalls in ability to pay for care, and their numerous other downfalls that match my own research. So rather than be regurgitating the info, I urge you to look at it yourself. It will be an eye opening contrast to the drivel Americans are currently flooded with.
Here's the link: http://www.healthcare-america.org/index.cfm