Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Healthcare in Pakistan quake zone better than for 45 million Americans

On TV, I just saw a CNN report from northern Pakistan about the last MASH unit in the Army. It is running a free hospital and basic care facility for anyone that can get there. They are doing amazing work. Setting a bone broken 30 days previous, giving kidney dialysis, and immunizing everyone from basic diseases. The WHO believes this MASH hospital, since the October earthquake, has improved immunization rates by 10% in the area. Surgeries that used to be "elective" like to repair a hernia or remove a goiter are being done by the MASH doctors with great success.

Yet, 45 million Americans don't get that quality of health care because they don't have insurance. Would these Americans be better off in an earthquake zone? Why aren't we providing health care for everyone? I don't begrudge the Pakistanis and I certainly salute the good works the MASH unit is doing, but I wonder why we can't do both?

I've seen it first hand. I have avoided going skiing because I don't have health care Stateside. If I blow a knee out I'd have to declare bankruptcy. I went shopping for glasses, but found out that without insurance I'd be better off buying them in the U.K., even though the NHS doesn't offer eyeglass coverage.

We don't have to make every doctor a federal employee to offer some basic health care to every U.S. citizen. Lasvegastan works for an HMO (or just a health insurance company, I can't keep it straight) and I'm sure there are some industry driven ideas that would cover everyone and are perfectly palettable to people of all political stripes.

Abortion, death penalty and poverty are all travesties, but the lack of health care coverage (that means you can't realistically go to the doctor!) for 1/6 of all Americans is the greatest moral issue facing us today.