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Monday, September 20, 2010

Culture Crisis - Uh, OK

There has been a post making its way around Facebook. I have seen several friends and acquaintances repost it, and applaud the message which is not very subtle. You don't have to really read between the lines - it's out there in red, white and blue ink for all to read:

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture" a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me". Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.


And boy, did people respond.

"This man speaks for me!"

"You are absolutely right! There is no health crisis! It's a culture crisis! So obvious!"

"Does the President realize this? It's not a health crisis! It's a culture crisis! Get Obama ON THIS!"

I am always one to take things with a grain of salt. You know - like how did he know how expensive her phone was or her clothes? Did he ever stop to ask? When he saw what her diet consisted of, did he pull over one of those wheely stools, hold her hand, and look her in the eye and talk to her about what she could be doing to herself? I don't know . .. he didn't really mention that.

I don't know that girl in the waiting room. But I do know a few others.

I know of families who have lost everything they have once cancer seeps into the seams of their lives. These families have insurance, but there is nothing to prepare them for the awful wake this disease leaves not just on the victims and the families, but the finances - which often results in bankruptcy and loss of a family home.

I know of blue collar laborers who don't have insurance. They work hard, they toil every day for their work. If they are injured, they have nothing - their families have nothing.

I have seen children who obviously needed medical assistance. Children who did not have trendy phones or trendy clothes - they just needed help. And they could not get it.

I don't presume to know what the answer is to the current health crisis that we have in America. I can latch on to an image and a persona like the man on the Facebook post did and blame it on culture.

But I won't.

According to the CDC, approximately 46 million people did not have health insurance in the United States in 2009. I highly doubt that their individual stories, struggles and pains should be reduced to this one man's ER experience.

Very few things in life are that easy.


12 comments: said...

PREACH IT. I totally just posted this on my Facebook. I've seen that doctor's smug face for the last two weeks.

alessandra said...

Absolutely true!
Thank you for writing this.

Candice said...

As you know, I work in the healthcare field, and spent enough time in the ER to see this firsthand.

I think your post is a great one. There are people who are absolutely in need. They work for every red cent they have, and unfortunately it still isn't enough.

However, in my experience, that wasn't always the case. The people out there abusing the system really ruin it for those that geniunely need help.

Kind of like the woman I saw who got thousands of dollars in medical testing/procedures, then upon checkout, told the ER receptionist she didn't have insurance and had no money to pay. Then she promplty left in her Cadillac Escalade as she talked on her iphone.

That kind of crap jades those in the medical field, and people in general, and we have every right to be jaded IMO. The difference with me is that I'm open minded and jaded. I realize that not everyone is an asshole milking the system.

Off my soapbox now. ;)

Masala Chica said...

Thanks Sara and Alessandra.

And thank you Candice - I always like you on your soapbox :-)

I think most Americans are horrified by the idea of such abuse of our system.

I think my fear is that when pieces like that get circulated, it becomes this "black and white" issue - and the other stories get lost in the mix.

Many families in America are literally one major health crisis away from bearing a financial blow that can take their home away. And that does scare me.

So my point is - there are assholes who abuse things. I get it. I just don't want us to dismiss the very real crisis which is still out there.

This man put a face on a problem. I guess I just want to make sure the other faces are not lost in that.

Thanks for sharing.

foxy said...

Wow, I hadn't seen that yet.

Good points all around - by Candice and you, Kiran. It's frustrating that so many people do abuse the system, but there are a TON of people that really do need it. It's not just black and white.... there's LOTS of gray.

myra said...

Thank goodness for your insight. If I had to see one more person repost that mess with a "WAY TO GO" kinda comment, I might've slapped them.

Sadia said...

Thank you. My husband is heading off to Afghanistan in less than two months. It's his third deployment. A big reason that I support his choice to continue this dangerous career is that it affords us healthcare of the standards achieved by the rest of the developed world.

If only all children in the US could get the quality of care mine receive without having their fathers shot at. Off course, I'd really like that for kids in all countries, but I suppose we need to start small.

Lemon Gloria said...

I hadn't seen that. It really makes me mad. It's true that there are those who abuse the system, but that's not a good enough argument for not providing health care for those in need.

alessandra said...

May be some control is needed to find and punish who abuse :)

nmaha said...

Thank you Kiran. It's not always a case of black and white.

Sara said...

This is what makes me twitch.

It's a national hobby to lump one thing we don't like into a group with anyone that looks even remotely similar. That way, it's black and white and we don't have to deal with messy gray areas.

Sadly, this country is one big gray area.

Carrie said...

I am one of those people who has had her live rearranged by cancer. My daughter was four this April when she was diagnosed. I feel pretty torn by the health care situation. On one hand, this is so expensive. Just one vial of chemo can be $3000. When you have insurance and don't qualify for additional help 'cause you have worked your ass off in this life, it is going to be every penny you have. Children's hospital owns me! So, I can understand the spirit of this email, in that, it is hard to be working hard, doing the right thing, and watching other people scam the system at your expense. It would be great if my daughter's cancer didn't bankrupt me. On the other hand, I am scared to death of having inferior health care. If we take profit away from this profession, what will we be left with? In the end, I just want Hannah to live. I will spend every single penny I have if I can buy more time.
Sorry for the long comment!


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