US Healthcare System Broken —But Fixable

This blog was inspired by the following “retweet” I made regarding post about an MSNBC article that is near and dear to my heart: 
The high cost of dying: RT @ChuckWheelock: The Impossible Calculus at the core of today’s #Healthcare dilemma


Terence Foley, who’s death and the costs it incurred is the subject of this story.  He is someone I wish I could have known.  He was such an interesting and talented person with a great sense of humor.  I certainly could relate to this story.  A few years ago, my mom passed away from liver and colon cancer.  Years before she had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.  She had also been a "survivor" of breast cancer. 

Her final battle lasted for a couple of months of being in and out of the hospital and having various doctors deal with her various issues.  Thinking back, many (if not most) of the "procedures" and drugs she was taking by that time were unnecessary, unhelpful, and often contradictory to one another.  I often wondered if the doctors actually ever spoke to one another.  Toward the end she had surgery to remove the colon cancer.  Her "insides" were so deteriorated from the cirrhosis that the surgeon needed assistance to help close her up because there was nothing that could be done.  The surgery was a waste of time.  Another unnecessary procedure that did nothing but cause her pain.  The surgeon didn’t know about the extent of her "other" disease.  I remember him laying his head on her shoulder.  He had tears in his eyes.  He was very sorry.  He adored my mom. Still, I’ll always wonder why the surgeon was not informed by her internist about the extent of the cirrhosis.

Once it was determined that there was nothing else they could do to her (for her?), they sent her home with enough morphine to kill a horse to be administered by hospice workers and family members at will.  Yes, she’d signed a DNR (do not resuscitate).  Had she not done so, I’m sure they would have kept her there to administer any number of horrific procedures and useless drugs to further squeeze more money from the insurance companies.  Just the same, she did not “go quietly into the night,” and the final two weeks of her tortured life continue to haunt me.  Cancer has that kind of affect on people sometimes and it can’t be avoided no matter how much money you throw at it.

The final out-of-pocket expense for that last episode (besides the monthly premium for the insurance) was less than $145 according to my dad.  She also had Medicare and was just shy of her 67th birthday when she died.

I miss my mom, but I get so angry when I see such blatant examples such as hers and Terrance’s that clearly express the need for healthcare reform.  Mom may have been able to avoid a lot of what she went through if she had had the means to purchase healthcare insurance when she was first diagnosed about 10 years before she died. 

The effect of manipulating patient care with unnecessary drugs and procedures for profit makes affordable insurance out of reach for millions.  Because our population is aging and costs are continuing to escalate, the situation can only get worse.  Regardless of what side of the political fence you sit and unless you are independently wealthy, you can be sure that you will be affected by our broken healthcare system either directly or by the loss of or suffering by someone you love.

Never before in the history of this country have we been in a position to "fix" our healthcare system.  Don’t let a minute more go by.  You can do something to help resolve this issue that effects us ALL.  Call, write, tweet, or email your congress reps today.


2 responses to “US Healthcare System Broken —But Fixable

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Pam. My story about my father’s death is not so tragic, as he died of natural causes. My family cannot begin to thank the professionals who helped Dad in hospice: he died with dignity and relative comfort, surrounded by family. It was mostly covered by my parents healthcare plan. 65 million Americans have no plan. It seems those that do not support a national plan for Americans have no vision. and will not until they too have the experience. For this moment in history, it may happen too late.-Chuck

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