Last week my wife had a surgical procedure performed at a fairly new hospital in Fort Worth. The doctor was remarkable, the nurses and staff were great and every step of the process was markedly pleasant and uncomplicated. Since my wife has good insurance, she didn’t have to save for months to afford the procedure or wait till the last minute and stagger into an emergency room. There was no crowd and no waiting room filled with the bloody, dazed or urgently infirm. It was red carpet treatment. The hospital even offered valet parking in the patient drop-off area.
Not to be ungrateful, but it made me uncomfortable. It was almost like a country club.
My wife and I are barely on the middle side of middle class. The only reason she received this superb treatment is because her employer offers an outstanding benefit package.
Without her job, we might have wound up at a cheap clinic or over at a public hospital where the closest you get to valet is an ambulance.
Later in the day, after my wife was safely back home and I was watching my youngest son play soccer, I looked out at all the boys and wondered if their families had decent insurance and what kind of treatment they’d receive if a serious ailment arose. What if their parents didn’t have good insurance? What if their parents didn’t make enough money?
Who in good conscience could stand up and say one person or his or her children deserved better medical care than another? Who would do that?
The good ‘ol U.S. of A..
That’s how our healthcare system is currently run, right now, every day.
Figuratively speaking, if you have money, you stay at the front of the line. If you don’t you languish at the rear, limping forward till it’s your turn.
If you have good insurance, you get V.I.P. treatment and valet parking. If you have bad insurance, they get to you as soon as possible, but the cost is often more debilitating than the injury you get treated for. If you have no insurance, they get to you when and if they can. And only after you’ve staggered into the ER from your car.
My grandfather on my mom’s side was involved in one of the forward campaigns of D-Day. He got shot squarely in the upper part of one of his thighs and lay on the battlefield, probably thinking he was going to die. But he didn’t. A German combat medic came to his side and treated his wound. My grandfather didn’t speak German and I don’t know if the German medic spoke English. But I doubt he asked my grandfather if he had money for the procedure or good insurance so the Third Reich could be reimbursed for his life-saving treatment. My grandfather—the enemy—was wounded. And the German medic simply did his job, regardless of uniform, nationality, rank, class, etc.
American combat medics are instructed to do the same. Such treatment is mandated by the Geneva Convention, but apparently it doesn’t apply to American civilians.
Arguably, my grandfather received better and fairer treatment on the battlefield from the enemy than many Americans get from their own healthcare system today. And make no mistake. The medical industry and the insurance companies that discriminately dole out access to its wares too often treat the poor, the disenfranchised and the migratory with less respect than they would afford an enemy.
I don’t blame the doctors or nurses or surgeons. I blame the system. Any system that offers better or worse treatment for my child or any of his soccer teammates or their parents because they have more or less money or better or worse insurance is wrong, unconscionable and evil.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right of “Life” is made alienable by our healthcare system. It’s un-American and it’s unacceptable and the Obama administration is trying to do something about it as you read these words.
So think real hard before you laud the status quo or oppose a major overhaul in the inflated, bankrupting nightmare that serious medical treatment amounts to for millions of people in this country. If you found yourself on the lower rungs of the economic ladder or the uninsured end of our healthcare system, you wouldn’t want to be dying on the health insurance industry’s class battlefield. There might not be any Nazis around to save you.