Friday, August 26, 2005

Uninsured in America

Cringe-inducing tales of inadequate medical service via This Modern World.
Gina, a hairdresser in Idaho, whose husband worked as a freight manager at a chain store, had "a peculiar mannerism of keeping her mouth closed even when speaking." It turned out that she hadn’t been able to afford dental care for three years, and one of her front teeth was rotting. Daniel, a construction worker, pulled out his bad teeth with pliers. Then, there was Loretta, who worked nights at a university research center in Mississippi, and was missing most of her teeth. "They’ll break off after a while, and then you just grab a hold of them, and they work their way out," she explained to Sered and Fernandopulle. "It hurts so bad, because the tooth aches. Then it’s a relief just to get it out of there. The hole closes up itself anyway. So it’s so much better."

It goes on to point a few of the teeny-tiny shortcomings of our "makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction" [bullet-listing added]:
Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us?
  • Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries.
  • We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries.
  • We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries.
  • We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries.
  • American life expectancy is lower than the Western average.
  • Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average.
  • Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations.

...And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.


At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.


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