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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Medicare: Much Better than Nothing

One of my pro bono patients is about to get Medicare. I am breathing a sigh of relief because this uninsured man with a history of heart problems including valve surgery, a rhythm disturbance known as atrial fibrillation, who often needs dangerous anti-clotting medicines such as coumadin, and who has some serious gastrointestinal problems as well, is finally going to have access to a primary care doctor, a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist etc.

I am so amazed by the beliefs some Americans (Tea Party, anyone?) appear to have that the uninsured have access to health care. What planet do these people live on? Here in the San Francisco Bay Peninsula area, we have a safety net hospital, Valley Medical Center, which is the only place which will see uninsured patients. When this man needed to be seen by a cardiologist immediately and needed a cardioversion procedure (where a device is used to deliver an electrical shock to try to convert the heart from an abnormal to a normal rhythm), Valley was so oversubscribed that it took several months to get the procedure done and several months to get an appointment with a cardiologist.

Why not just put everyone on Medicare? It would cost the taxpayers less in the long run, since when gentlemen like this one cannot afford care and cannot get appointments, they end up in emergency rooms, which is much more expensive, and happened to this man twice in the last several months.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yes, Haya. Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) agree with you on this topic. Many other industrialized nations have better ways of providing their citizens with health care, such as England, France, Germany, Sweden, Japan and others. Expanding medicare to automatically cover everyone would provide better coverage and better health care and probably reduce health care costs.