First of all, just to set the record straight, there’s nothing wrong with charity care. I’ve had to ask for it myself numerous times since I’m low income and have no insurance. But it isn’t free, someone foots the bill whether it’s taxpayers or private donors.
As for investing in a financial plan, my yearly savings, what I have left after I pay my expenses, no matter how they were invested, wouldn’t pay for one emergency room visit and I make several of those a year. My expenses are bare bones - no cable tv, no car payment, no fast food.. I cook from scratch and use the library for books, dvds, cds. My one luxury is my internet service, which is paid for by bartering. I do computer work for a friend and return, he pays the bill.
I have used the free clinic where I live. It’s located right next door to the soup kitchen, homeless shelter and the 24/7 needle exchange. Since I work, I fall into the patient group given evening appointments. Day appointments are reserved for the homeless. I can’t even begin to tell you how frightening it is to walk through that neighborhood at night. It’s like wearing a mug me, rape me t-shirt. The clinic service is free, but there is no continuity of care, and the quality of care is more than a little iffy because the doctors know nothing about you. You never see the same doctor twice. I’ve had them give me prescriptions for meds I’m severely allergic too because they were too busy to read the chart and at the time I didn’t know Z was the same as X, just a different brand name. And should you need a certain med you can’t afford, the clinic will help you. But they only give out a few pills at a time so you need to go back through our little combat zone weekly or even more often. An even then, more often than not, they’re out and you have to do without until the next shipment comes in. Not a good idea to stop some meds suddenly. And, for those with mental health problems, getting them to take their meds on a regular basis is often a struggle. When there are no meds for them, it’s back to square one on getting them to take them daily when they do become available.
As for finding a doctor who works on sliding scale fees, good luck with that around here. They take only a limited number of Medicare/Medicaid patients. If you have no private insurance, they tell you they’re not taking new patients at this time and refer you to the free clinic, right next to the 24/7 needle exchange.
There are indeed wonderful programs for those with the greatest need, programs such as those you mentioned. But for those of us who are just a little bit unhealthy, poor and have no insurance, trying to get even basic health care is a battle you can’t understand unless you’ve been there. And please, don’t tell us, just go get another job. As you know, there are very few jobs, and some of us, because of health or disability issues, struggle just to make it through a 40 hour week.
The times have changed, Denise. Families, churches, charities, etc., no longer have the funds to meet the increasing cost of care for the ever increasing number of uninsured. You might be surprised to find out what the folks in your employer’s HR department know about you. I think it may have been Grinch who pointed out that adding those younger and healthier to a single payer pool would proportionately increase dollars in to dollars out. As Bob has pointed out, the government isn’t trying to take over the healthcare industry, a single payer option isn’t currently on the table. But it if there were something like Medicare for all, then perhaps hospital costs could be covered. Wings and floors would be opened again and patients wouldn’t be left shivering in the halls in their johnnys. . Did you have a chance to look at that Health Insurance Reform Realty Check site, Denise? http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq/
As I recall, you’re a Vet, Balladeer. Doesn’t the government via the VA take help care of your health care needs? Don’t the taxes we pay help support that program that in turn helps you? Do you think the government that shouldn’t take care of “everyone” also shouldn’t take care of you?