operationMD

Posts Tagged ‘death’

Death has a Face…and comes with Responsibility

In health insurance, medicine, Rants on January 9, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I naturally wake up every morning at 7:06 am on the dot – random time, I know, but that’s my Circadian rhythm for ya!  However, this past Monday was a morning seemingly straight from hell.  I unexpectedly awoke to the screeching screams and weeping of my mom coming from behind her closed doors.  From the intensity of the volume, I would’ve sworn that both of our doors were open.  Panicked and in a daze (I hope you never need to wake me while I’m sleeping…I am nonfunctional for a good 15 minutes, usually unable to talk) I stumbled over to her room and paused in her doorway to see her slumped over her desk, on the phone, with her entire body heaving up and down, nearly convulsing.  Usually relaxed and soft-spoken, I had only seen her in this state a few times before, and that was when close family members had unexpectedly passed away.  I waited for the right moment to interject, but unable to find one, I opted to hop in the shower and hope that she had gained some sort of composure by the time I got dressed for work.

Fortunately she had calmed down a bit by the time I went to check on her again (I hate interrupting people, especially when I feel that time to themselves is what’s most beneficial, but there was no way I could spend the next 9 hours of my life focus on what I needed my attention on if I knew she was home in this state with the reason unknown to me).  She told me that her dear friend had been found dead in bed early this morning.  Apparently, her leg had been bothering her for a while, and was acting up the night before.  Her husband, being the loving, caring man that he is, decided to give her a nice message before she went to bed, hoping that would help relieve the tension and stress she was feeling.  He woke up to her unresponsive in bed with him the following morning.  Yes, most likely his loving message had dislodged a blood clot that wound up being her untimely demise.  She leaves behind a husband and two young children.  According to my mom, she was one of the kindest souls on this planet.

So, why do I mention this story on this blog that usually pertains to medicine? A: Because this was a woman who had had a double mastectomy when the doctors had found a lump in one breast, out of fear and as a precaution as a middle-aged woman with a history of breast cancer in her family. She was the first one to run to the doctor when something was wrong – just to err on the side of caution.  Yet, she had to endure months upon months of pain and discomfort because…you guessed it – she had gotten cut from her job, couldn’t find a new FT position, and was without health insurance.

I know so many are against health care reform, and are specifically against a public option.  Many physicians, pre-meds, and medical students, if they are honest with themselves, are mainly against it because they think it will be a drain to the economy, and more specifically, a drain to their own pockets.  I, like many others have mixed feelings on this whole debate (I’m not really going to delve into it now, just give a quick run-through on where I stand). I do believe that this health care reform might lower the income for some physicians. And, I wouldn’t think that would be such a bad thing until you factor in costs of obtaining an MD and things such as malpractice insurance.  The only way I could justifiably see lowering the wages for physicians would be to likewise lower the cost of education in the US.  With undergraduate degrees costing $45K+ per year and medical school education costing $70K+ per year (assuming private schools here), are we expected to mount debt that we might not be able to climb out of for 20+ years? That’s ridiculous. Especially when you consider how highly respected this profession is.  People are quick to point overseas to health care systems that are “better” than ours, yet hesitate to look at other aspects that factor into those societies that enable those systems to work (i.e. their doctors aren’t coming out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt!).

That argument aside, if everyone were required to buy-in, it really would not be a drain on our economy.  Shoot, other countries spend 6% of their GDP on health care and are doing just fine. Meanwhile, we’re spending 16%, as is, and we are clearly struggling.  Our economy is failing, over and over again, morbidity and mortality rates are increasing …something’s got to give! (ok, that last comment I have no empirical evidence to support, but I’m just taking a guess…increase unemployment, increase uninsurance rate, and increase untreated diseases).  And yes, I said everyone must buy-in. Pardon me this one time, but I am going to say screw freedom of choice!  The first ones screaming “Freedom of Choice!” will be the first ones up in the ER when something unexpected happens to their health and they don’t have the means to cover it.  Then what? We’ll wind up spending far more in late, emergency treatment than if they had been treated when symptoms first arose.

All this to say, I believe in the public option. It is long overdue. Shoot, I haven’t had health care since September. I’ve been missing my medications and have been in knee-pain for 5+ months now. I’m already tired of my current quality of life.  I can’timagine living indefinitely like this.  Fortunately for me, as soon as I’m officially a student again, I can have insurance factored into my bills (i.e. student loans). But what about those that don’t have that option?  It is my honest opinion that those against a public option have yet to lose anyone close to them due to something as simple and silly as lack of health care insurance.  Because, once you start putting faces and individual stories to the statistics, you start to interpret the data a bit differently – with more of a heart.