Lessons From a ‘Difficult Patient’: The Real Challenges of Health Care Reform
What is the best thing you can do for somebody with a life-threatening illness or injury? You might be tempted to “help” them, but what if they don’t need your help? In the U.S. health care system, most individuals don’t truly need care.
That’s because, for most people, private health insurance isn’t enough. They require a major medical problem or illness, and then a government program can step in to provide coverage.
The United States health care system is not perfect, but it’s the best we have and we need to keep it working. I’ve had personal experiences with private health insurance – all too often, it didn’t work. It didn’t work when my wife had cancer. It didn’t work when the IRS took away my health benefits. And it didn’t work when I had to file two times for my children’s school lunch because the cafeteria was closed because my employer cut back on their staff.
The challenge, even in our dysfunctional system, is that the government doesn’t give up on providing universal access to care. It’s government at all levels, from local to federal, that steps in to provide coverage by subsidizing care or by requiring insurers to offer it.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, my oncologist recommended I pay out of pocket for a $75,000 operation and pay for the treatment over the course of a decade by using a part of my Social Security disability check. I was lucky to have insurance, but I couldn’t afford the full out-of-pocket cost.
The government stepped in by offering free medical coverage (Medicare Part B), and the cost of those services fell on my family’s Social Security check. The government provided the