Monday, April 29, 2013

When Money Should Not Matter...But It Does

Trey Smith

One minute a person finds themselves excited, on a beautiful day watching runners finish the oldest marathon in the country, partaking in a long community tradition and then the explosion, pain, blood and terror at what happens to them. Help arrives, treatment begins and for many a lapse into the peaceful bliss of unconsciousness.

Hours later they begin to awake in pain and to discover what they have lost. Gradually the realization hits that it will take years to get their lives back together and in fact nothing in that life will ever be quite the same again. Meanwhile they, if lucky, are with the comfort of loved ones and friends and well cared for by the hospital staff. They are somewhat celebrities and there is great public interest in them and their plight. Money for their care has flowed in from an aroused and concerned public and the least of their worries is how much will this cost and what effect it will have on their ability to earn money.

Then, as with much of what is current in the media’s reportage of the “news,” their individual plight falls to the background of the public’s consciousness. The donations dry up and with that the funds coming in and they are faced with an enormity of debt, pain and rebuilding their lives.
~ from Health Care, Boston and the Luck of the Draw by Mike Spindell ~
This is one of those questions that springs to my mind whenever a tragedy is reported in the news. With our nonfunctional health care system growing by the day, who ends up paying to put broken lives back together?

It is one thing when folks are injured as the result of their own stupidity or carelessness. In situations such as that, most people think that the victim should bear most or all of the costs. (Personally, I'm on the fence. Why? Because it is a human predilection to engage in stupid and careless acts. Most of the time, our stupidity and carelessness doesn't result in serious injury, but sometimes it does.)

But what about those who are injured through no fault of their own? Who becomes responsible for the life long costs? Money from lawsuits won only will go so far. What if the individual has no health insurance or a meager policy will a small maximum cap? Some of these individuals will be bailed out by government programs like Medicaid or Medicare, but think of the stress they will go through to obtain the benefits they so sorely qualify for.

If the US had a form of universal health care -- like most of the rest of the modern world -- such questions would never arise. The entire focus would be on each individual's recuperation and rehabilitation. Money worries would take a backseat and, in many instances, not be a concern at all.

But, sadly, that is not the system we have. Because we continue to maintain a for-profit health care system, financial concerns ultimately will turn into these victim's primary concern.

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