Rx: Assess need; research; plan

Rafael home-schools his young children while his wife earns their single income as a speech therapist.

Their children are all beautiful with straight black hair and huge dark eyes that flash with intelligence.

At church, the littlest, Clare, sings the hymns with such devotion she is a distraction to adults behind her.

What a perfect family!

But things have not been all that perfect the past six months. Rafael’s wife was out of work so they had no health insurance. He began to have excruciating abdominal pain more and more frequently.

Back at work and having earned a week’s vacation, they traveled to visit her family several hundred miles away.

During the visit, Rafael had another attack.

This time they rushed him to the emergency room.

The diagnosis: Colon cancer had struck this young father of five. Emergency surgery seemed to have purged the disease but last week, he got a follow-up exam at the cancer center.

Cancer, still or again present; the oncologist prescribed chemotherapy.

Rafael’s family typifies, to many of us, the uninsured in America. Had he visited a doctor earlier, would he have faced a better prognosis? We don’t know. But we lament that anyone should go without lifesaving treatment.

No one wants to see a loving father or mother or an innocent child of whatever age, suffer for want of care easily furnished for mere money. How ludicrous to think otherwise!

We don’t want money wasted, nor stolen by fraud or misuse but we do want it spent wisely for the good of all. How can we help these families while still honoring the public trust?

Is mandatory universal health care managed by a government agency the way to resolve this issue?

CDC statistics purport that 46 million Americans can’t get health care. That’s a sixth of our population.

How can we possibly provide that many people with the doctor visits, hospitalization, prescriptions they need?

A major national employer and local company estimates the average financial outlay for coverage to be thousands of dollars per employee each year.

Last month the Pacific Research Institute published a work by Sally C. Pipes, “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care,” which broke down that 46 million number. Fourteen million are young, healthy individuals who could afford insurance but choose to spend their money on other things. Many forego employer plans for the extra cash in pocket each month.

If a leg breaks during a skiing accident, they’re willing to pay for setting it. If they get the flu – same thing.

They consider it their choice.

Several million others are without insurance for part of the year – still in college but no longer covered by mom and dad, or in between jobs for brief periods. If accident or illness befalls them, coverage can oftentimes be picked up, after the fact, by use of the guarantees of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reform Act – COBRA provisions.

Illegal aliens comprise another 10 million and nearly 10 million more qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program), but have not enrolled.

They’ve fallen through the cracks of a system meant to help them. Those responsible simply haven’t signed up for that assistance.

The actual numbers of chronically uninsured now seem manageable. Instead of 46 million, eight million of our nation’s citizens – mostly the working poor – lack a health plan. These are the people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

Proponents of mandatory universal coverage say that’s the answer – a law forcing everyone to buy insurance and using public funds for those who cannot afford it.

Many of our elected representatives insist government could run such a program more efficiently than private companies.

Some insist that legislation cap the high drug prices Americans seem to pay or implement re-importation of drugs.

It’s been just two weeks since the election during which candidates spent huge amounts of money to get elected. Now they must serve. Since healthcare is a prime concern, perhaps each of the victors could spend $25 to get a copy of “Ten Myths.”

It provides a succinct primer on the issue.

Actually, anyone, officeholder or citizen, could get much from this book, spurring discussion and hopefully, the best course of action. Local libraries should carry it now or very soon.

Next week: look to Europe or Canada, which or whether?

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Daily Times.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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