Medical Student, UNM School of Medicine
The healthcare debacle is a large, remarkably complex issue and I really appreciated the author's input in this article. As it happens, I agree with his assertion that a big piece of the puzzle is missing in the recently passed legislation. Universal healthcare, while certainly intimidating in its scope would help control much of what drives insurance companies into the ground, forcing them to pass along costs to their consumers as happened in this case.
Nevertheless, I think that legislation only takes us so far.
Having worked in a clinical setting for the last three years, I am forever impressed at how little regard people give their personal health. For example, a BMI over 35 (a 5'8" male weighing 230lbs) used to be pretty impressive to me. With increased exposure to outpatient clinics and hospitalized patients, I now realize this represents the “average patient,” and am pleasantly surprised when a patient has a BMI below this benchmark. In fact, I recently had a patient with a BMI greater than 70 (for the same 5'8" male, a weight of 475lbs).
Knowing that obesity is closely related to the top three causes of death in the United States (heart disease, cancer and stroke), I have to wonder, when is it that we, as a people, take responsibility for our actions and their consequences? When do we look in the mirror and realize that WE are a large part of the reason that healthcare costs have spiraled so badly out of control?
For the past year, we have debated the merits of healthcare and healthcare reform. While national and even state politics seem largely out of reach of average citizens, it is important to realize that we as individuals can take matters into our own hands. Instead of large political contributions or knowing the right people, however, we can do this simply by eating better, eating less, and exercising more.
Now I realize that this comes off as paternalistic, but I think it is easy for people to remove themselves from the debate and instead focus on political rhetoric. As such, I would (and do) encourage people to take responsibility for their choices and ask that they become part of the solution and not just part of the problem.
Finally, with a BMI of 25.1, I include myself in those who could stand to lose a few pounds. So join me, eat healthier, get some exercise and become part of the solution instead of sitting on the sideline while our tax dollars and, more importantly, your health pay the price.
Michael del Castillo-Hegyi
I get the feeling you and I are on the same side. As a doctor in training, I believe that healthcare reform is of critical importance, though I didn't make the point forcefully enough in my critique (this is the case I was making in pointing out the lack of access to care for the author).
Again, the reason I was frustrated with the author's article was that he did not present anything other than his point of view. In this climate, I think it is more important to address the obstacles to healthcare reform (insurance companies and their lobbyists chief amongst them). However, there was no attention paid to these or other issues in the article.
Finally, as difficult as times are right now it seems silly to take try to antagonize one another when we could do much more working toward a common goal. You seem really passionate about this issue. I would stronlgy encourage you to get involved in helping move the issue forward ([link]).
The sad thing about this article is how un-unique the story is. People wait in the ER for hours every day, sometimes with serious complaints that require medical attention, other times with minor complaints but without insurance and, as such, no access to the health care system.
The real story in this is the lack of access to care. For example, had the author had earlier access to his primary physician, he may have received the needed medical attention and avoided the onerous process of trying to navigate the ED. However, instead of delving deeper, the author delivered a front page diatribe that comes across as petty and self-centered. Where are the figures? How will the current legislation affect New Mexico? What perspective do local politicians and health care professionals have regarding the legislation? Why am I reading about your experience and not learning anything?
Also, it would have taken a five minute phone call to a health care professional (or one or two House episodes) to check some of the finer issues of the story. Nobody checks CO2 levels. What you're talking about is a pulse oximeter (you remember, the little red light that gets taped to your fingernail?). This device approximates the levels of oxygen bound to hemoglobin in your blood.
Alternatively, you could have asked the professional to explain to you how the emergency rooms work. As one of the previous comments noted, you are triaged, vital signs are taken, and your complaints are addressed by their acuity. The thinking is that if you're condition rapidly deteriorates, you're in the right place. In the meantime, they'll take care of the more critical patients.
Everyone, health care providers and the lay public, know the problems facing the health care system in the United States are extremely serious. But instead of choosing to add something substantive to the debate, you delivered a rant complaining about the amount of time and money spent on your illness. I would encourage the author to step back and look at the problem from a more global perspective. Nice try. Maybe next time you'll dig a little deeper, check your facts, and get a point of view other than your own to "report" on.