Friday, July 25, 2008

Power for change?

As I look over my microwave lunch today, I'm glancing at the headlines on the American Medical News for July 21, 2008.  The headline says: "Health Care Access Problems Surge Among Insured Americans."  

So, my first reaction was - "Duh".   Just ask my partners - we are seeing more and more insured patients in our practice, particularly Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare.  Tricare is the public insurance program to support our retired military and dependants.  And, they are our community's newest "underserved" population.  These fine Americans carry an insurance card with a great slogan - "The Best Health Care in the World".  That's certainly the topic for another entry...

But, after reading the story a bit more closely, I see that the article is not about the insured among us.  Rather, it reviews access for all of us - insured or uninsured.  The article reviews the report from the Center for Studying Health Systems Change, which has been tracking access for the past ten years.  And the report shows a marked increase in delaying and deferring care due to growing access barriers.

But, why the emphasis in the headline on the insured?  Ah, that might just be the power for change... Larry Seaquist noted that 97% of voters have medical insurance.  The uninsured, therefore, have little political clout.  Why would they?  They are typically poor or young or immigrant.  But, when the headlines start talking about the "Haves" rather than just the "Have-Nots", maybe that will lead to enough power to effect true change. 

At least, we can hope so.  And, soon.  It would be immoral for us to watch even more people die during this crisis:  Uninsured People Ages 50 to 64 Have 43% Higher Death Risk Than Insured, Study Finds

No comments: