As a teen, I worked for 5 continuous summers in a US midwestern modest size city hospital in direct patient care. Patient age ranged from pediatric to elderly; needs ranged from ordinary accident to life-threatening illness, to chronic disability. Patient coverage ranged from private to public. Patients were served, most recovered, some eventually did not. I was in conversation with patients and privy to countless patient/family conversation. Not once did I hear of bankruptcy due to treatment cost.
Furthermore, I was present to note experiences of folks in my midwestern community with regards to health care, whether or not they showed up in th hospital in which I worked. I witnessed needs and respondent care toward my own grandparents, great uncles and aunts, located in two counties.
No bankruptcies. Recovery as predicted by type of ailment, eventual death if it occured, seemed to match rational prognosis based on medical knowledge of the time. In other words, care and outcome was based on medical science, not on ability to pay.
Out of university I moved to Canada and lived there for 40+ years. (I have since moved back to the US.) In my absence, something happened to health care in the US. A system that had been largely private in any case had blossomed into something akin to a monster out of control and quite greedy.
I have extensive Canadian experience to draw from in making some personal decisions of what needs doing in the United States.
I remained in one community the entire time during my 40+ year stay, with brief times in large centers, and one winter in Yellowknife, NWT. In Canada I witnessed friends, neighbors, and community members with medical need, I witnessed how it was addressed.
I cannot say often enough that I have no complaints with the Canadian system. Nor did I have a complaint with the US system before it turned “corporate” with a Capital ‘C’.
I know of one Canadian horror story from within my immediate contact sources within Canada; I have one from the present US system; and I am sure there must be one from my early hospital work days. A difference is that present day US ‘horror stories’ tend to be caught in the realm of human intent to deny coverage. And horror stories from non current US structures seem in more unavoidable mistakes in human error of judgement in diagnosis and therefore effective treatment.
I can understand and sadly but quickly forgive the latter (horror by error). I can understand and am deeply offended by the former (horror by intent).
Oddly, I consider myself almost ‘blessed’ to have been denied current US coverage. (When I returned here I stood on my head, danced to a number of pipers, to obtain US coverage – was accepted, paid my money, and had it returned with “uninsurable” my new category. This although I have no diagnosed condition of any kind and require neither routine medical consultation nor perscribed medication.)
The blessing in this? I am cast into a situation where I pay more close attention to how this came to be; and thereby am attuned to how it is that so many of our citizenry are uninsured, underinsured, and even if insured are at risk of finding treatment turned down.
I have personal history of observing physicians and nurses delivering care. I have witnessed compassion and intelligence from both.
It is my additonal contention that not a single one of us was born intending to “be a jerk’ toward others. So I can only speculate how those running the for-profit insurance companies came to believe the power they wield is sensible and just.
I support the closest thing to single-payer we can develop for ourselves. I support the value to our entire nation when each citizen is most able to function physically and emotionally to serve families and communities, and to function to earn income for this same purpose.
One interesting difference in my Canadian experience – one that is subltle and only available by great imaginative capacity or direct experience: Under the Canadian system, individual citizens have the same basic fears of injury, pain, disease. But each citizen in Canada also knows, without needing to think about it, that the entire nation of Canada wishes its citizens to be well – or, of course, as well as possible.
Americans cannot imagine – unless they give great intent to the effort – what this means in the psyche of the individual. Americans are presently in no position to easily imagine the experience of being valued simply as a living, breathing, human.
My Best To All! – MaggieAnn