Almost 50 million Americans enter each new day without health insurance coverage of any kind. That fact concerns the vast majority of health care and public health experts.
But, not everyone agrees.
Like President Bush, some people believe that since emergency departments across the nation cannot refuse to treat anyone who shows up in their waiting rooms, everyone enjoys health care "coverage."
This includes Dr. John Goodman (PhD, not MD). Here's what the good professor has to say about the uninsured:
"The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American [even illegal aliens] as 'uninsured.' "
Steve Blow did a feature column in The Dallas Morning News on Goodman last week. Read his entire story here.
Goodman has been a high level advisor to politicians who make decisions about health and wellness issues in our nation.
When I first read Blow's report, my mind shifted immediately to patients who come to our Community Health Services building here at Central Dallas Ministries.
I can't forget one hard working father who battled kidney stones. Uninsured, he went to the ER of a major hospital in town. The hospital treated him with pain killers and antibiotics. They never hospitalized him because they didn't have to. The law requires treatment on an emergency basis, not ongoing treatment for "self-payers" like him. By the time he reached our doors he was in the midst of end-stage renal failure.
We went to work to get him a kidney transplant and helped negotiate the rate and raise the cash to pay for the procedure that saved his life, sent him back to his family and to work. We were glad to help. But our response is not a replicable model for health care.
Sadly, our friend's case is not all that unusual. Emergency rooms were not designed to serve as "medical homes" to millions of uninsured Americans.
Then, what about prevention? You know, regular checkups that often lead to early detection. What about medications that can extend life and control the chronic conditions so many of us suffer with.
From a cost benefit analysis, this preventive strategy saves everyone lots of money.
Dr. Goodman, you've got to be kidding!
We need to do much, much better. All we lack currently is the will and the courage.