Health and Politics: Universal Healthcare and The Plight of the Uninsured and Under-insured
U.S. Uninsured and Under-insured Brought to the Spotlight by Remote Area Medical (RAM) on "60 Minutes"
The politicians have talking a lot about their health program during their campaigns all over the country. If they want
any good information about the plight of American families who are going without health insurance, they need to take a look
at last night's show. RAM used to work in poor countries where healthcare is lacking or non-existent. Never did the program
directors and the large group of volunteer physicians and medical specialists think that they would be working in the U.S.
to relieve people of their pain. The show's reporter showed how some people were lining up to draw a number that would qualify
them for health. Thousands came to this parking lot. They came from very far. Many of them had to drive long miles to make
it to the appointment. The chances of getting a number were limited. But they came because none of them could afford to
pay for insurance. Even those who are working could not afford it. Politicians are talking about the needs for universal
healthcare. In the meantime, this group is working hard to make it happen.
The health seekers spent nights sleeping in their cars waiting for their numbers to be called. The lucky few go through
a triage and received all kinds of medical attention. The case of a gentleman who had two previous heart attacks but was
never followed by a physician was very touching. He was in so much pain. He brought his daughter to receive care too. What
the "60 Minutes" show crystalized is the breath of the uninsured problem in this country. While the health program continues
to find needy patients in the U.S., many foreign countries in which it worked may have to go without.
Presidential candidates and other politicians should pay attention to the plight of the people. The question is who has
a better plan that can deliver the much needed, affordable health insurance
to the people. Between John McCain, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, we must take a deep look at what's going on.
More Coverage of the Healthcare Issues
Remote Area Medical or RAm is an American relief organization that provides free health care to parts of the world that
need it most. Some of the countries that benefit from this charity are Swaziland and Guyana. RAM is doing great business
in the US these days. It is providing health care to the uninsured and the under-insured.
A case in point is the recent huge clinic set up for a weekend of free health tests and assessments in Knoxville, Tenn.
276 medical volunteers offered free eye exams, dental care and other tests and treatment to those who showed up. Many of
the participants camped out in order to receive free care.
One of the featured patients was a truck driver who drove 200 miles and slept in the parking lot for hours before the clinic
opened. He had his number ready and listened for it to be called. It was like winning a lottery. He had an infected tooth
which was extracted. There was another patient, 28-year-old who had surgery for cervical cancer in 2005. Since then, she
only had one pap smear. The treating physician was surprised to find out that she had not had any close follow up despite
the recommendations to do so every six months. In all, RAM had time to see 920 patients over that weekend; 500 pairs of glasses
were distributed; 94 mammograms were administered. And 1,066 teeth were extracted. 567 filings were done. Yet, more than
400 people were turned away. This only happened in one state. How about the rest of the states?
Now it makes sense that the presidential candidates are trying to push the idea of universal health care on their campaign
I would encourage anybody to continue to watch these kinds of segment on "60 Minutes."