Friday, February 24, 2006

"Death By Denial"

I recently saw this report (note this video only works in IE) (read about it here) on a local news channel about a man who was denied treatment from his health insurance for possible life-saving procedures to rid his cancer. The insurance company's denial cost Tracy Pierce his life. I was absolutely appalled and angry when I saw this report.

This story reminds me of this (below) Non-Sequitur cartoon I used to laugh at - now it is no longer funny knowing that it is morbidly true.

*Since this graphic may be hard to read - the insurance man says, "We have a saying in the front office... A dead patient is a cost-effective patient. So I'll be handling the nurses duties from now on." The statement on the right says, "Your HMO caring for you 'til your dying day.'"*

It is sad enough that in America over 45 million people (approximately 1/6 of the population) do not have health insurance. Yet it is even more ludicrous to think that one who has insurance can not even get coverage of life-saving treatments! I realize that the treatments were not guaranteed to work, but every person should be given the CHANCE to LIVE. Americans pride themselves on the fact that we have the "best health care technology" in the world, the best hospitals, the best doctors, with the shortest waiting periods. But I ask you - what good does the best MRI machine in the world do if you can't use it? What good does it do to have the smartest, most experienced, and most skilled doctors in the world if the insurance company can over-ride their plan for treatment? What good is a break-through, advanced, life-saving treatment if one can not be treated with it?

Normally I do not believe in using a single, possibly isolated case, to exaggerate or make a greater point, which often happens on the 10pm news - but this is different. The issue at hand is human life - and one person dying at the hands of the insurance companies is one too many! Everyone should have the opportunity for life - no trial or tribulations required. It is especially appalling when it is happening in the wealthiest nation on earth. And doesn't our Constitution say something about how no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property..."

The health care system in America has a multitude of problems, with this being a single example of how off-course our country is heading in matters of health-care. The bottom-line here is that insurance companies should not ever have the final say about "life or death" matters. More generally, we need major health-care reform or else we will become a mockery to the rest of the world (if we have not already.) I can truly say I am absolutely disgusted...