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The Two Faces of American Health Care

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My friend has leukemia. She’s laid off. She’s uninsured. She lives alone. She’s scared. But she has been a communications professional in the health care field for 30 years, and writing makes her feel better. Here are some excerpts from her CaringBridge Journal that say quite a bit about the current state of care in the US.

"I need to be serious today. One week ago I learned I have leukemia, was in a medical crisis, and went on a journey that led to the ER, hospital admission and the start of chemotherapy. The medical aspect appears treatable – financial & insurance coverage issues are what may kill me.

I’m far from alone in being in this situation – it could happen to anyone, even those who *think* they have good insurance coverage.

No matter your politics, please take time to listen to the President tonight when he addresses health care reform. Then go find other sources for more information and get involved.

I’ve been in the health care field – as a professional or as a volunteer – for 30 years. The issues and concerns are complex and can’t be adequately addressed in a simple way or by people shouting at each other.

I’ve had excellent medical care in the past week but have also experienced multiple instances of wasted resources and inefficiencies that are built into the system and drive up costs. As just one example, my personal physician has 10 years of my medical history in an electronic medical records system and was on standby all day to work with the hospital staff, but was never contacted, and I was asked to give my medical history verbally at least 12 times to different people. The only person who asked while in front of a computer screen and keyboard somehow managed to lose the information and a registered nurse ended up asking for the information all over again.

That’s a small example, there are large ones too. But that’s for another day. Today is the day to really focus on what’s ahead for the health care system and for us as a country. Thanks for listening, it helps me heal to talk to you."

She’s now being treated on an outpatient basis.

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Thank you so much for posting. This is a snapshot of the health-care system that's not much fun to look at. Thank goodness your friend has the experience and insight to understand the system she has to work through; she is becoming an awesome patient advocate even as she is a patient herself. But it truly seems like a maze. And even if there were unlimited funds available to fix it all, it seems impossible to just know where to start.

Best wishes to your friend; please update us on her progress and blog!

September 23, 2009 - 9:30am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.