United States Already Rations Health Care
published Columbus Dispatch 4 August 2010
Reading Cal Thomas' Thursday Forum Column, "Britain shows that the U.S. will have no choice but to ration health care," I am amazed that the foes of health-care reform constantly raise the issue of rationing.
The fact is that the United States has the most rationed health-care system in the world, but we ration care in the most inhumane manner, based on the ability to pay, rather than on the basis of need. Research has shown conclusively that private health-insurance companies, not Medicare or other single-payer systems worldwide, are the most likely to deny care when it cuts into profit margins.
As an emergency physician I am face to face with the unspeakable suffering of the uninsured and underinsured every day. Single payer, also known as "Medicare for All," has been shown throughout the industrialized world to be the most compassionate and cost-effective health-care delivery system. The market simply does not work for health care. 45,000 deaths occur yearly in the United States, directly attributable to lack of health insurance.
The sooner that reality trumps blind ideology, the better it will be for my patients, indeed for us all. I invite Thomas, as I invited Sen. George V. Voinovich, to spend a shift with me in the emergency department and look into the eyes of those abandoned to suffering and early death.
-- Brad Cotton, MD