First of all, I want to make one thing clear. In my 44 years as a physician plus 4 more as a medical student I have NEVER seen a doctor turn ANYONE down in times of an emergency or a serious illness, REGARDLESS of the patient’s insurance status. The bickering, finger-pointing, and accusations to the contrary that have occurred on both sides of the political aisle in recent years continue to astound me. NOBODY has been denied urgent care and I seriously doubt if ANY doctor would do so.
Nonetheless, the problem of how to handle non-emergency care definitely exists and must be dealt with. Furthermore, if our emergency rooms continue to be inundated by both emergency and non-emergency problems by patients without coverage, quality and effective and cost-conscious care will be impossible. We are seeing this now in some areas.
Important Facts to Consider About Health Care
There are a couple of important facts to keep in mind about health care in the United States.
- There is nothing in the Constitution or in the constitutional Amendments that says that access to health care is a right. Health care is not guaranteed. However, one might think that the most powerful and advanced society on the planet should be able to invoke some health care system to take care of its people should they need help.
- There will NEVER be a “level playing field”. Even if everyone in a society has an equal opportunity to partake in ALL the advantages that a society has to offer, there will always be differences. There will always be people who are willing to work a little harder to get ahead. There will always be people who are willing to work a little longer to get ahead. There will always be people who will work both harder and longer to get ahead. Some people will make more sacrifices than others to reach their goals. Some people will take advantage of any system. Some people are lazy. Some people abuse their bodies by using narcotics improperly. You get the point. Unless one changes human nature, THE PLAYING FIELD WILL END UP BEING NOT LEVEL—in spite of the current administration’s claims and attempts to the contrary.
So now we have to come up with a health care system that considers all the above facts but still is compassionate enough to care for the health of its citizens. There is no “perfect” health care system. However, the system that works best, in my opinion, is the one that was present when I broke into medicine. In those days, America had by far the most advanced health care in the world. My plan would model health care after an old system—I learned from history.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our four part series on an alternate solution to the current Affordable Care Act.