I’d like to issue a challenge to those opposed to expanding health insurance coverage and access to health care.
Spend a weekend with me at the inner city hospital where I work.
Recently we saw:
- 20 year old with newly diagnosed Stage 4 cancer who has not seen a doctor in years and has no insurance to pay for treatment of a curable cancer
- 38 year old with heart failure from fluid around the heart treated at an overwhelmed safety net clinic.
- 33 year old with blood pressure twice normal who has been out of medicine for 7 months. Yes, you really can blow a gasket — that’s what a stroke is.
- 23 year old with diabetes who has been out of medicine for 4 years. When your hemoglobin A1C (average blood sugar) is higher than your shoe size, you have a serious problem
Week in and week out, we treat patients without health insurance and access to good primary care doctors who are admitted for completely treatable and largely preventable diseases. Caring for these patients in a primary care doctor’s office lowers cost by preventing unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions. The commercial insurers get this — that is why they are pursing the ACO model and payment schemes that reward doctors, clinics, and hospitals that offer better quality health care. they do this because it saves money.
All patients need timely primary care to treat these illnesses to prevent unneeded ER visits and hospital admissions.