To the Editor:
Almost every week I see patients at the Bennington Free Clinic with heartbreaking stories about their health care. Last week it was a patient who has so many medical problems that she could keep an army of specialists very busy. She doesn’t qualify for Medicaid because her husband works and their income is above the limit. Recently, they have obtained health insurance through thehusband’s job, but it has a high deductible and they will have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before the insurance pays a penny.Therefore, we cannot send her to the endocrinologist
for her poorly controlled diabetes; we cannot send her to the cardiologist for her heart disease; we cannot send her to the gastroenterologist for her abdominal pain, or the rheumatologist for her arthritis, or the dermatologist for her psoriasis. Earlier this year, she was hospitalized at SVMC and received a bill that she will never be able to pay. She cannot afford many lab or imaging tests. She cannot afford many of her medicines even though they are very important.
She has a right to decent health care, but she can’t get it in the USA. She is one of millions in the country who are uninsured or underinsured. It isestimated that over 40,000 people die each year because they lack insurance and they delay care. Nearly one in three rural Americans struggle to cover medical expenses. Insurance companies don’t care; they are focused on making a profit. Why do we tolerate this? "Improved Medicare for All" is bound to be a better alternative.
G. Richard Dundas, MD,
The writer is the medical director of the Bennington Free Clinic.