Public Health Alert: Ebola, EnterovirusD68 and the US Health Care Cartel

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Public Health Alert: Ebola, EnterovirusD68 and the US Health Care Cartel

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally (The Commonwealth Fund)

Protecting public health is critical when infectious disease like Ebola or EnterovirusD68 spread. In watching some of the news coverage of those who have gone to emergency rooms in the US, it looks like isolation measures and other care that both helps the patient and aims to protect public health go into high gear. All the high tech measures and testing are critical to keeping these and other infectious diseases from spreading and killing more people.

So, what does Medicare for all for life have to do with these patients being evaluated and treated? Can you imagine the bills associated with seeking and receiving care in America that are mounting for these patients?  Come on, I know you see those dollar signs swimming just as I do. And the US health care cartel does too. Deductibles, co-pays... and what if you or I should go for evaluation and possible treatment and we just had a case of the flu or a bad cold with respiratory involvement? Ouch. Whether or not an illness is identified as a threat to public health or not, that hospital or other provider is going to get paid -- one way or another, they will get their money.

If we had an improved and expanded medicare for all for life system in the US, no one would delay or avoid care for an illness simply because they worried about massive bills being left behind. As it stands now, those with no insurance coverage or lousy coverage (like the bronze, silver and gold plans offered on the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare exchanges) will likely go through some sort of pre-screening in their own minds of what their out-of-pocket costs will be if care is sought. Certainly, once someone is so sick that he or she cannot function without medical help, certainly then someone around that person will likely get them care. But, what will the spread of that virus have been by that time?

I do not hear any discussion as part of any of the news stories about the Ebola and EnterovirusD68 issues that address what American patients go through before they actually get care and what the bills are that they are left with should they survive their illnesses.  Imagine having someone with Ebola sitting at the hospital admission desk being asked to pay their co-pay. Imagine a sick person going to the pharmacy and touching every over-the-counter med that they think might help them feel better so they will not have to go to the doctor or emergency room. Imagine the damage the US health care system -- the profit-first, medical-financial-industrial cartel that drives almost one-fifth of the US economy -- could do to efforts to control these viruses and any other threats to public health.

Then imagine a different scenario. Imagine a US health care system that puts health first. Imagine a system that outs people in jail for denying care to the sick or threatening their homes and their life savings like loan sharks if they cannot pay a medical bill. Imagine improved and expanded Medicare for all for life. Then, demand it. For your health, for my health, for our health.

Do you think it won't or can't happen to you? Really? If you are concerned at all about public health and the spread of disease, there should be nothing that stops you from fighting to change the corrupt system we have in favor the humane and healthy system we certainly could and should have.  Or are you going to wait until fever rises, wheezing begins, vomiting overtakes you or someone you love, and then feel the usual disgust about our system as it is? That is selfishness, cowardice and stupidity all rolled into one. And the US health cartel counts on that reaction every time.

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Quality, Access, Efficiency, Equity and Healthy Lives: U.S. Health System?

Read The Commonwealth Fund's recent article ranking the U.S. health system dead last:

Donna Smith

Donna Smith
Donna Smith is the executive director of Progressive Democrats of America.  PDA's mission is to strengthen the voice of progressive ideas inside and outside the Democratic Party by using "inside/outside" and "grassroots fusion" models of working both in the Democratic Party as well as working with other progressive organizations both inside and outside the Party.

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