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Admit it, Our Health Care System Isn't Perfect

Last night I got sucked into a Fox News special on health care. It basically glorified our current system and included personal anecdotes from patients who believe they may not be alive today if they had received care in Canada or the UK. I can respect that every one has different views on health care reform, but it seems like a stretch to argue that medical care in America couldn't use some improvement.

If nothing else, let's agree that health care in America is uneven. While you can get excellent treatment from one doctor, another may be overworked and unable to handle his case load. When it comes to health insurance, some companies tend to pay more claims than others. (Just ask your doctor's office manager about insurers and you'll get an earful on the ones he or she doesn't like.)

I've seen how uneven care can be during my own pregnancy. I was forced to find a new obstetrician soon after I conceived since my last doctor stopped delivering babies. I ended up choosing an OB who came highly recommended by two other doctors I know. Soon after I started seeing this new OB, it became clear that she had too many patients. She didn't share test results with me in a timely fashion and I ended up having an amniocentesis (which carries a risk of miscarriage) that she later told me I didn't need. Not only did she put the health of my fetus at risk, she also charged me a lot of money since she didn't accept my insurance plan.

I've since switched doctors and am quite happy. But the change itself is quite costly for me as I'm now basically paying twice for some of my care. Still, I've been lucky. I'm healthy and my pregnancy is moving along smoothly. But there are plenty of Americans who aren't as fortunate. An estimated 200,000 people die each year from medical mistakes and hospital infections. Sixty percent of personal bankruptcies are due to staggering medical bills, despite many of those patients having health insurance, according to research from the Cambridge Health Alliance. And let's not forget the 47 million who lack insurance coverage and who can't afford the regular medical care that they need.

Having said all that, you won't see me trying to convince anyone that the current version of health care reform is perfect. And frankly, I don't think it should get passed. But I also don't believe that our current system should stay the way it is. The bottom line is that we do need some change. I just fear that until everyone can put politics aside, no one will win except some select politicians.

Do you think our health care system should be left alone? If not, how would you change it?

Ambulance image by gwire, CC 2.0.

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