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'Sicko' made me sick
Posted Oct. 5, 2007

Erin Konrad
Arts Editor

It doesn’t matter what your politics are. I couldn’t care less if you’re a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. No, what matters to me is that anyone can get sick. Anyone, regardless of race, economic status or gender, can get sick.

What worries me more and more about this country is our complete lack of concern for those without health insurance. Our government snubs its collective nose at the nearly 54.5 million people who are uninsured. Hopefully, their cancer will cure itself and their diabetes will disappear.

America is a country that prides itself on its compassion—we take care of each other when the going gets rough. But let’s face it—the going is already rough for many Americans.

My sister was student teaching in an Azusa elementary school last year and witnessed what can happen with the combination of low-income families and the lack of health insurance.

One little boy came to school with a black, abscessed tooth that was painful. He said that his mother couldn’t take him to the dentist because they couldn’t afford it. Another boy nearly went deaf after repeated ear infections went untreated.

I’m not talking about the poorest neighborhood in the rural south or a backwoods suburb without sophisticated medicine. I’m talking about a city just 15 minutes or so from our campus.

Well, okay, let’s say you’re fortunate enough to have health insurance. Lucky for you, right? Not exactly. The movie, “Sicko,” a documentary made by the controversial Michael Moore, opened my eyes to the travesties that are occurring in our nation due to the insurance companies’ omnipotence and the greed of the pharmaceutical corporations. Doctors and hospitals don’t make final decisions regarding healthcare – ultimately it comes down to what insurance will cover.

One example in the film has stuck out in my mind. A man sawed two of his fingers off in a wood crafting accident. When he reached the emergency room, the physicians informed him that his insurance would only cover a certain amount. One finger could be attached for several thousand dollars, the other for much more. The man had to make a decision on which finger should be reattached based on each ‘price tag’. He ended up going with the less expensive finger.

A more personal example occurred last Easter weekend. My mom was experiencing chest pains and ended up in the hospital overnight for tests and observation. Luckily, she was fine enough to go home the next day with a clean bill of health. Well, another bill came that wasn’t so apparently clean.

We have health insurance, so why should we have been worried about receiving a bill? Our insurance company would only pay part of the expenses, leaving my mom with a bill of $1,000. We would need to fork over a grand for a hospital trip that didn’t even include any major procedures or medications.

My family is lucky that we were able to pay off the bill without having to put a second mortgage on our house (or stop paying tuition to the University), but what if we weren’t that fortunate? How much is having healthcare really helping us? Our health decisions should not be overshadowed by financial ones.

So, I guess it comes down to this. Many need health insurance, and for those who have it, it’s great – unless you actually need to use it.

Erin Konrad, a junior journalism major, is arts editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at ekonrad@ulv.edu.