Everyone, at some time in his or her life, will need to seek medical care. The American health care system is a billion dollar industry, and it discards people that can’t afford its services. The current health care system is divided into two groups–health care for the insured and no health care or limited care for the uninsured. The kind of medical and personal care that an individual receives under the current American health care system depends on the person’s insurance status. In the land of equal opportunity, segregation is still practiced.
It is a well known fact that people that have health insurance receive much better medical and personal treatment from health care providers than people that don’t have health insurance. The insured are treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, the uninsured are treated with indifference and disdain. For uninsured people, obtaining health care can be an extremely demoralizing and frustrating experience.
When a person calls a medical practitioner for an appointment, the first question of the medical office staff is if the person has health insurance. If the person doesn’t have health insurance, the attitude of the office staff changes dramatically. A lot of times the person is asked abrasive and invasive financial questions. Cash payment is requested before the visit will be scheduled, or at the time of the visit prior to services being provided. Some medical offices refuse to provide medical care if there is no health insurance and the person is unable to pay cash in advance. Uninsured people seeking medical care face embarrassment because they cannot pay in full for medical services without benefit of a monthly payment plan. They are made to feel like their health does not matter because they are uninsured.
In some hospitals and physician’s offices, the type of medical care that is rendered to uninsured patients is much different the medical care that is provided to insured patients. During a personal interview with Carolyn Hagan, an uninsured Oregon resident, it was revealed just how shoddily uninsured patients are treated. According to Hagan, because she doesn’t have health insurance, she is unable to obtain the necessary medical care for her heart condition. Hagan stated, “I have so much trouble getting medical care because I am uninsured, and I can’t afford the cost of health insurance. I can’t afford the high cost of the medical tests that I need. None of the doctors will treat me except for occasional brief checkups because I am not profitable to them. Every health insurance company that I contacted to see if I could get insurance refused to insure me because I have heart trouble. I have had to cancel medical tests because funding that I applied for to help with the cost became unavailable.