A couple of days ago my healthcare documentary, “SCREWED by the Greedy Business of Healthcare in America,” had a screening at Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, MI. Before the screening, a lady from the area was introduced who shared a moving personal story regarding her nightmarish experience with American healthcare.
The ordeal started when she underwent treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, she developed heart failure from chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy. She could not continue to work, and the treatments exhausted her savings. She was still suffering from heart failure. She qualified for Medicaid, but all of her treatments weren’t covered. The doctors gave a grim prognosis unless she had a heart transplant. They told her it would be difficult and almost impossible for her to receive, or to even get on the list for, a transplant. She was informed her situation was hopeless, but she refused to give up. She fought to be placed on the transplant list. In October of last year, she was sent a letter from the heart transplant board at the local hospital stating she was not qualified for placement on the transplant list because she does not have enough prescription drug coverage. In November, she received another letter informing her that, unless she has $10,000 funds available for prescription drugs, she would still be not eligible to be on the list. Fortunately, she was able to raise that money through crowd funding. She is currently waiting for a call telling her the right heart is available for transplant.
Sadly, in America her story is not unique. In fact, such nightmares are more than common. Thousands, if not millions, of citizens go bankrupt from a medical illness suffered by themselves or their family members, which is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in this country. A million Americans will go bankrupt this year from medical related costs. Ironically, 70% of those will have private health insurance but will not be protected. It is a shame that millions of citizens, in the most powerful and one of the richest countries in the world with the largest economy, have to crowd fund or go bankrupt for healthcare. It is even of a worse shame that 30,000 of the 30 million uninsured Americans die every year due to lack of timely healthcare.
The experiment of unnecessary middle man private health insurance companies in America that charge unaffordable premiums, deductibles and co-pays has failed to provide affordable, quality healthcare to all its citizens. Not to the CEOs of those companies, though. They have succeeded in amassing millions, at the expense of financial hardship of the enrollees of their companies. It is time for America not to be the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee quality affordable healthcare as a human right and to join all the others that provide such universal healthcare.
There are a few options, single payer or otherwise, to achieve universal healthcare but Medicare for All is the simplest and the best of them all. It is a publicly funded but privately delivered option that offers more choice of doctors, hospitals and comprehensive benefits that are affordable too.
Medicare for All is even likely to reduce healthcare costs for all Americans in future.