Cauldron

I like books.

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I live in a small town and enjoy writing about the inhabitants. I spend most of my time perusing through used book stores looking for that one great book that I don't have; consequently, I have rooms filled with books. I am a book addict.

Friday, October 28, 2005

When poor people get sick

Life is good, well it will be when I am completely recovered from my illness, not the mental one, but the physical one, the pneumonia/strep infection. It’s curious being sick with an infection that can kill and does kill every day and knowing or feeling confident that I am going to be okay. Antibiotics, they are the cure for everything and not so long ago they didn’t exists and people died from bad teeth, a sore on their hand, well anything where the little colonies of bacteria overtook an organ, causing dysfunction and moving on to the blood causing sepsis and so on and so on. Can you imagine what would happen if the antibiotics were outlawed? Well, I for one would die, because I get pneumonia at least once a year, sometimes twice; I have really bad lungs from polio and from asthma and from a chain-smoking Mama. So, I would die.

Not that we have any fear of the antibiotic going anywhere, but the thought occurred to me, when I entered the emergency room and my husband displayed our insurance card, my Medicare card, and he was willing to pay whatever those two didn’t, right there on the spot, what if we were dirt poor and had no insurance, no money, no nothing. I was dying, or so we both thought, and I think I was close to death. What would the hospital have done? More than likely humiliated me, given me a not so close check up, and home with a prescription. I had means so they were really good to me, ran every test, gave me breathing treatments, IV antibiotics and fluids, talked kindly to me and held my hand. The doctor even came in and sat on the bed and patted my leg, talking about my lungs and telling my husband that I was going to be fine. They even offered me something to drink, and my husband something. They were so kind.

But what about those men and women who don’t have insurance or Medicare or Medicaid or another means of paying an expensive hospital bill, what happens to them? In the ER were several signs in two languages that said they would treat life-threatening illnesses but that was it, unless you have insurance or money. When I left, they gave me prescriptions and if I had no money to buy the medicine it would have done me no good. There are no free clinics in our area and if the poor do find a place to treat them, how can they ever buy the medicine. My antibiotics were over 200 bucks; of course I only paid 30 because of my insurance. I would hate to decide between medicine and food or medicine and rent or medicine and heat.

The university treats the students, but there are really poor people, who have no insurance, and when they get sick, like I have been, what do they do?
Shouldn’t health care be one of those rights we all deserve, not just the insured? On my way out of the hospital, a man and woman were bringing a sick baby in and the nurse asked for the insurance card before even looking at the baby. The woman cried. I just know they didn’t have insurance. I hope the baby is okay.

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