I work at private hospital as an “intake coordinator” which means I’m the gatekeeper who qualifies individuals and makes appointments for those with sufficient health insurance. I also coordinate treatments and travel logistics for patients who are traveling from out of town — this all makes me some people’s hero and other people’s zero.
At least 10 times a day, I get calls from people on welfare. I feel for them, I do. They deserve medical care and thankfully, the vast majority of them are taking advantage of assistance that allows them access to health care through some sort of government program. In spite of some very rare, highly publicized cases, it’s extremely rare in this country if an uninsured, acutely ill patient is completely deprived of medical attention. In fact, it’s quite possible to get excellent medical care on Medicaid (the government low income health assistance program) or even free care depending on how resourceful one is. Most people without health insurance find this care through county or Catholic hospitals, and I’m thankful for this. As an enlightened country, I would hate to think of anyone dying from a curable illness just because they didn’t have health insurance.
However, after two years of getting bombarded with phone calls from people wanting to come to our hospital for treatment, many of whom are on government assistance in which our private hospital is not in a position to accommodate, I have been called a whole host of names when I tell them that we don’t accept their government health programs. I have been told by many government aid recipients that if they die, it will be all my fault or or accusing our hospital of only caring about the rich (which is far from the truth, our patients come from all walks of life — they just happen to have health insurance). Some even go as far as to tell me that they hope my children get sick or that they hope that I get sick and die. (Yep. I’ve heard it all. And it’s constant. It’s actually rare that I’m not cursed out.)
And I am BURNT OUT.
Mind you, many of these patients are already attending some of the best research facilities in the country and receiving care that other countries are envious of. Hospitals like Duke, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, all of whom are in the forefront of medicine and work with government aid. But I get the curses and hexes because they don’t want to go to those hospitals — they want to go to a private hospital. Their shock that we don’t accept government assistance makes me think this is something they rarely come across.
So, I ask myself everyday, “Do I deserve to be treated like this?”
If we go to a socialized medicine model in this country, then everyone will get mediocre care and likely their current treatments would be put off even further. Right now, even the poor in this country aren’t experiencing rationed, bargain basement care. I don’t know what the answer is, but if people think a new socialized medicine model is going to allow them to go to private hospitals with newer, highly advanced technology, then they should be careful what they wish for. We either fix the system we have now or we take it away from everybody. My guess is that America is too spoiled to “settle” for such arrangements. I think people don’t realize they will all be treated in the confines of a dumbed down HMO, which is fine if you choose to pay less for your health care and accept limited options, but what I find, people want THE BEST, they want everything, yet they want to pay little for it. This is not sustainable, but neither is our current model of suing for millions over a hangnail and passing that onto consumers.
Personally, I feel every child should have access to wellness and sick care, but if adults expect this, we must accept compromise and fewer medical options for everybody.
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