Medical Injustice

If you didn’t know, the new health insurance market opened last week as a means to increase access to care amongst the uninsured. If you would like a brief overview of Obamacare, read this previous post. Hopefully the computer glitches will be smoothed out soon and people can be enrolled into health insurance plans.

All politics aside, I am happy as a primary care provider working with the underserved that more people will have access to basic care. Early detection and regular care can potentially prevent the chronic diseases that burden the healthcare system today, e.g., diabetes, heart disease, stroke.

But unfortunately, the scope of the new healthcare reform will not be as vast as previously thought. This was a pretty sad article to read from CNN talking about the gaps in coverage under the new plan. The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) had the provision that each state has the choice of expanding the programs that would help provide coverage for the poor.

Sadly, half the states have opted out of the program, and hence the uninsured living in those states will not receive any aid in purchasing health insurance. The article estimates there are some seven million working people who make too much to qualify for existing state aid programs, but not enough to receive subsidies under obamacare to purchase insurance.

Millions of people unable to get care that they need. Sad as that is, numbers are just statistics. Maybe a story will be more helpful. Here’s an excerpt from my book:

I was working in the ER one time and this guy came in for abdominal pain. I did the standard history, getting all the gory details. Then I went to do an exam. Heart sounds were good, no murmurs. Lungs, pretty clear. Abdomen feels okay … wait, I feel a mass? Is this stool in his intestines? So I follow it and it’s no stool. It goes down into his pants and there I find that his scrotum is the size of a grapefruit. I hope he didn’t see me go bug-eyed.

I asked him how long he’s had this and he told me four months. Four months? Are you kidding me? I asked him why he didn’t come in earlier. He simply shrugged. I found out later he had a cancer of his testicle and it had spread all the way into his belly.

We might find that story incredulous. Why did he wait that long to come in? You would think if your scrotum was the size of a tennis ball that would raise some red flags…

To give my patient credit, he was uninsured and didn’t have access to regular medical care. If I was faced with a decision to fork up money to see a doctor or put food on the table, I wouldn’t go to the doctor either. That breaks my heart. This is just one small example of the injustices that exist in our medical system…

Worth the Cost?: Becoming a Doctor Without Forfeiting Your Soul

One charge God had against the the Israel nation was that they failed to care for the poor and needy in the land. I can’t imagine God being happy with the state of healthcare, even with the new changes. I’m still wrestling with how the church (and the individual Christian) is to respond to this need, but I do my best using medicine to carry out God’s heart for the poor. If you have thoughts, feel free to share!

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

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