On one hand, times like these try mens’ souls.
On the other hand, times like these can show you the goodness in people’s hearts and the desperation that some patients face with medical illness.
As the number of rural health clinics has fallen from 500 to 316 in Texas, here’s a story about a small group of docs who do their best to care for patients in rural Texas. They even have a van packed with portable medical supplies that they use to perform house calls on patients too frail to make the trips into town.
The story is both somber and heartwarming.
Then there is another story about a group called Remote Area Medical that organizes events to provide free medical care to uninsured and underinsured patients.
In Tennessee, the lines for free health care begin the night before the doors open. A school serves as the venue. Bleachers are full of patients waiting for care. Patients get evaluated and treated in classrooms. Dental chairs fill the gymnasium floor.
Most patients either need to see a dentist or an eye doctor. But as the dentists evaluate patients, they note that some have medical problems that must be addressed first. One has a blood pressure of 200/120.
Insurance doesn’t do much for patients who cannot afford – or who are unwilling to purchase – medications. Many patients who are “unable” to afford basic prescriptions for as little as $4 a month have packs of cigarettes sticking out of their shirt pockets.
In two days, the volunteer staff evaluated 701 patients, extracted 852 teeth, performed 345 eye exams, and provided 87 medical exams. The total cost of the “free” care provided in two days amounted to $138,370.
Think things will change with the current health care bill? Think again. Dental and vision care are not covered for adults under the current House or Senate bills.
As the article states, “to fix health care inequities, expanding insurance alone may not be enough.”
“May” not be enough? Try “will” not be enough.
“Insurance” doesn’t equal access and it doesn’t equal health care.
Never has. Never will.