Everyone who reads FDL, and most Americans for that matter, knows health care in America is broken. It’s not just the 45.7 million who are uninsured, it’s that even if you have insurance it almost certainly won’t actually get you the healthcare you need, and trying to make up the difference yourself will probably bankrupt you. Half of personal bankruptcies in America are caused by medical bills, and of those three-quarters had insurance when they got sick.

The video above, from Health Care for America Now, speaks to this and to the horrible decisions and burdens people have to bear. Jim, in the video, needed surgery and the insurance company wouldn’t pay for anesthesia. "Sorry, but your pain helps our bottom line." Nancy Cantor, who had insurance, was hit by so many uncovered fees and deductibles that she wound up having to declare bankruptcy.

The system doesn’t work. It is in insurance company’s interest to decline care. The more care they decline, the more money they make and their first duty isn’t to sick people, it’s to their shareholders. So they use the bludgeon of "reasonable and necessary" to decide that hey, anesthesia isn’t necessary. They use it to overrule doctors on what tests are reasonable, what surgeries are necessary.

Speaking as a Canadian I can tell you this. In Canada I get to go to any doctor I want, and my doctor chooses what health care I need and other than setting the initial list of covered services, the government doesn’t interfere. I spent 3 months in hospital, I never even saw a bill, and when I wanted to leave, they made me stay 2 weeks longer to make sure I was well before they let me out the door. Meanwhile, in the US, a good friend of mine had the flu, didn’t go to the doctor because he was a poor student and couldn’t afford to pay, and the flu got worse and he died. And he didn’t die easy, it looks like he tried to make it to the door when it got bad and couldn’t.

In Canada, he’d still be alive, because he wouldn’t have not had his flu treated because he was too poor.

Joining us today to discuss the situation, and what can be done to fix it are:

If you want to help get Americans universal health care, I hope you’ll take the time to take action and send your Congressman an e-mail through Health Care for America’s system.

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in Pogge.ca and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at http://www.ianwelsh.net/