Health care. Something’s broken

While waiting in the reception room at the dentist, I overheard him talking to a patient in her 70’s. She was in tears. A tooth had broken apparently. He said, you need a root canal, a post, and a crown, it will cost $2,000. We could pull the tooth but you don’t have many teeth left. She said, I’m on Social Security and don’t have the money, then left with tears on her face. Maybe she will come back to have the work done – then eat dog food for months to pay for it. Or perhaps she will have it pulled, and eat with one less tooth.

In saner countries, this wouldn’t happen. She’d get the care she needs. In America, those without money get little or no health care, and this, for any number of reasons, is an abomination.

The dentist’s prices are about standard for the area. If she couldn’t afford him though, he should have told her where UCLA and USC dental clinics are so she could get it down cheaper or free. Isn’t the purpose of being an M.D. to help the patient?

In a way, he’s trapped by the system too. He has two offices, several staff, and probably tens of thousands in overhead and salaries each month. Plus he had new x-ray equipment this time. There’s no film, and it’s viewable in seconds on computer monitors anywhere in the office. Slick technology, but certainly not cheap. Hey, if he got sick and couldn’t work for a month, he could be in financial peril too.

The root problem is a greedhead system that mandates profit must come first. Everything else comes second, even people’s health and well-being.

In Cuba, she would have the tooth fixed for free. If tiny, impoverished Cuba can afford free, quality medical care for all its citizens, so can the US. It’s just a matter of priorities, isn’t it?

Affordable health care should be available to all. A women in her 70’s shouldn’t be reduced to tears because she can’t afford to have a tooth fixed, this being just a minor example of a malfunctioning health system.

A friend died recently of cancer. Even though he was a union member and had excellent health benefits, his friends, including a registered nurse, had to battle hard so his final days in the hospital could be with dignity. One of his closest friends was with him when he passed in the hospital, and this is as it should be.

If he hadn’t had that union health plan, I shudder to think what his final days would have been like. Rather than attack unions because they have health plans, the better plan would be for everyone to have low-cost, competent health care. The US has a highly effective and well-maintained system of free interstate highways. It’s time we did the same for health care too.


  1. The most unprotected people in every country and at any time are children and old people. The way they live determines the country`s health.

  2. I hear about stuff like this all the time, sometimes from folks who go on in the same breath to say how wrong the concept of the NHS is. I’m glad the Uk has the NHS, and I’m glad that it’s still running, even though recent governments have done their best to dismantle it.

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