Medicine and Money: Traveling for Health Care

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Medicine and Money: Traveling for Health Care

When the debate over providing health care for all citizens arises people often look to other countries, less wealthy, that manage to take care of their citizens. Sometimes the point to Canada or England; and the favorite of the opposition to taking care of children is France. The French are a convenient target for all things not good for America.

The extreme moralists on the right argue that health care in Canada is centralized, with hubs of care to maximize utilization and reduce cost per patient. The result is that people have to drive many miles for specialized treatment – so goes the argument.

I don’t live in Canada, or England, or even the atrociously demonic France. I live in Missouri. Today my daughter and I are going to drive sixty miles to Kansas City so her son, my grandson, can receive proper medical care for a chronic condition. My daughter schedules these events well in advance, even in the big city there is a waiting list. Our health care costs rise with the cost of gasoline and other travel expenses. We will be in Kansas City all day and will have to provide food for the boy.

We are going to Children’s Mercy Hospital – a place I am quite familiar with. My first visit to Children’s Mercy was over twenty years ago with my other daughter in tow. Things have not changed much – Children’s Mercy has excellent medical professionals who are always kind and thoughtful.

But even Children’s Mercy has limits. Sixteen years ago we were referred on to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. We had to take a week off work and fly to Cleveland, Ohio, where we met some of the top medical professionals in the world. We had our regular insurance deductibles, along with hotel, travel, and meal costs. (I kept the bills as as a family keepsake – I will give them to my daughter one day.)

This traveling around is the result of Health Insurance Companies and Not-for-profit Hospitals ‘cherry picking’ the industry. They don’t want the fringe or unusual cases that might cost them some money.

My point is simple. The extreme moralist argument that any form of universal health care would cause inconvenience to the populace is filled with holes. The argument does not hold water. The argument is not about health care, the argument is about money. When we use money as the basis of our argument for or against health care – health care comes up short.

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