04 January 2007

Canada's system saves lives

Paul and Sarah, a couple weeks before his death

Crooks & Liars links to the Friendly Neighbour, "A Canadian observer of the decline and fall of American values in America," and a wonderful anecdote about a Canadian diagnosed with lymphoma in 1997. The system saved him, in part because the matter of cost didn't enter into the equation of getting him to the hospital and treated.

His wife agrees that yes, in the United States they might well have lost their home in the face of this emergency. But worse, she says, is the good chance that she wouldn't have taken him in immediately. One of the oncologists told her that more than one in four don't.

"If you really need emergency medical treatment, you need it RIGHT NOW, dammit. Not after filling out a bunch of forms, not after confirming that your plan is paid up. What are the odds that an HMO would have quibbled over the cost of the medically necessary period of hospital observation that saved his life at least twice in the first week after his initial crisis? Or that some bean-counter vetoed a necessary aspect of treatment due to a lawyer's interpretation of paragraph 117, subsection 3 in the contract? In nine years, there have been dozens of times when my friend, had he lived in the USA, could have been killed by an accountant. This is unacceptable.

"Consider health care reform a priority. Your life could very well depend on it."

This post is also at Les Enragés.org, another great-looking blog.

I'm not going to send this story on to Paul's widow, who has spent months beating herself up about why she didn't insist, in the face of Paul's balking, on him going to the hospital. How could she have known? We've all done it. When Paul got his "stomach-ache" on Sunday afternoon, and I learned that Paul and Sarah had canceled dinner with Christopher, my husband, and Emma, my stepdaughter, why didn't I call? Maybe I would have realized it was more than something he ate. Christopher, after Paul died, kept saying that he should have insisted on going over, and that he might have realized it was appendicitis, seeing as he'd had appendicitis a few years back. Paul's symptoms were classic.

And all the "if only"s in the world won't bring him back.

We need health care reform. Our lives depend on it.

1 comment:

SadButTrue said...

The problem as I see it, in a nut shell: Health care used to be a profession. Now it's an industry.