If you heard the story, you remember it. A few weeks ago, a woman bled to death in an emergency room, while her husband and a bystander both called 911 to report she was being ignored. They were ignored. She was already in the E.R., wasn't she?
Her death came too late to be included in "Sicko," Michael Moore's litany of horrors about the American health care system, which is run for profit, and insurance companies, which pay bonuses to employees who are successful in denying coverage or claims.
But wait a minute. I saw the movie almost a year to the day after a cartoid artery burst after surgery and I came within a breath of death. I spent the next nine months in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Pritikin Longevity Center, and still require the daily care of a nurse. I mention this to indicate I am pretty deeply involved in the health care system. In each and every case, without exception, I have been cared for by doctors who are kind, patient, painstaking and expert, and by nurses who are skilled, wise and tireless. My insurance has covered a small fortune in claims. My wife and I have also paid large sums from our own savings.
So I have only one complaint, and it is this: Every American should be as fortunate as I have been. As Moore makes clear in his film, some 50 million Americans have no insurance and no way to get it.
Many of the insured discover their policies are worthless after insurance investigators reel off an endless list of conditions and procedures that are not covered, or discover "pre-existing conditions" the patients "should" have known about. One woman, unconscious when she is put into an ambulance, is billed for the trip because her insurer says it was not pre-authorized. How could she get authorization when she was out cold on the pavement?
We also learn a lot about drug companies and HMOs in the film. It is an item of faith in some circles that drug companies need their profits to...