Health Care – Irony is Thy Name

Life is full of misfortunes, accidents, and unpredictable, life changing events; which is why, we as the American people, are granted health care. However, to many, health care doesn’t seem to be fulfilling its purpose of caring and providing. If health care is supposed to support us, and be something each one of us has a right to, why is it the cause of 1.5 million bankruptcies each year, and unaffordable to half of the American people? And why is the middle class of America, the largest class, the ones struggling to pay off charges with insurance? In addition, where exactly are the outrageous charges coming from on the medical bills? And most importantly, how did this health care crisis happen to America, of all countries? These are just a few of the questions the American people are left to cope with.What else is left to do when accidents strike without warning and a middle class family of four is left to pay off over $110,000 in medical bills? File bankruptcy – according to the U.S. Times, this seems to be the answer for most families. Take the Jackson family from Texas for example: while exiting a school bus, the Jackson’s daughter was struck by a car, leaving the family with an outrageous medical bill of $90,000. Within a few years the mother of the Jackson family needed both knees replaced at a price of $20,000. And most recently, the daughter got into another accident while driving. Before even receiving the charges, the family filed for bankruptcy.Half of America doesn’t even have health insurance, and a lot of the families that do, are left helpless when bombarded with medical bills – especially the middle class families, like the Jackson’s. So how does this happen? How are those with health insurance still charged thousands? The truth lies behind the instability and inconsistency of the health care system. To elaborate, imagine a man without insurance comes into the emergency room with a broken hip to undergo surgery. He is charged $35,000. Since the man does not have insurance, his procedure will inevitably cost the hospital more money.So where do they get this extra money? Well, say a second man comes into the same emergency room with a broken hip; however, this man has insurance. Unfortunately, since the man before him cost the hospital more money because he didn’t have insurance, the hospital will add on higher charges on the medical bill to the man with insurance to help pay off the extra expenses incurred from the previous patient. So if health care doesn’t protect you from high medical costs, what does it do? Apparently, if it doesn’t keep you healthy, it’ll at least keep you alive: according to the Urban Institute, over 27,000 deaths occur every year that are actually medically avoidable. Sadly, those 27,000 happened to have no health care. What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?Along with the overwhelming medical bills, is the speculation of what, precisely, are the charges for? How is a ¾ mile ambulance ride equivalent to $1,800? Of course the first expense that would come to mind would be the medical aid given during the ride. But what happens when nothing is done – no medication, no tests, no nothing – and you’re still being charged thousands? A similar situation arose with a couple in Pennsylvania. When the couple found themselves in a horrific car accident, they were airlifted via helicopter to the nearest hospital – the ride was no longer than ten minutes long. The bill for the ride amounted to $18,000. However, when asked what exactly was done in the helicopter to medically aid the couple, the husband declared “nothing.” If no medical aid is given, other than the transportation, how do these charges add up? After doing a little research on different helicopter expenses, I found something that grabbed my attention: a ninety minute helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, and Las Vegas strip costs $248 per adult, according to allvegastours.com. So, for a helicopter ride that is an roughly eighty minutes less, using basically the same amount of fuel per mile, what is the $17,504 difference of charges routing from if no medication or medical procedures are used along the way? Unfortunately, even the couple who is held responsibly for these charges hasn’t gotten the answer either.Finally, the last, but most important question is how did a problem like this happen to America? A recent study done by the Common Wealth Fund, shows that out of seven predominately wealthy, stable countries, the American people reported as being the unhappiest with their current health care system. One statistic for instance, was that 25% of American’s will actually forgo a doctor’s appointment because they believe the pricey costs from the visit and the prescriptions could be better spent on other immediate financial needs – such as paying off bills – rather than their own personal health. And yes, that 25% is a big number, considering all the other countries surveyed didn’t even make it into the double digit percentile.How does something like this happen to a country that never settles for mediocrity? Take for example our military. When we’re threatened or weak, we spend tons of money to invest in more high quality weapons and protection. Schooling is another prime example – we have the top universities in the world, and we invest as much money as necessary into constantly improving them. If America is a country based on freedom, and equal rights for each individual, why haven’t we given those people we go to extreme lengths to protect, serve, and educate, their right to an available, affordable, healthy life?