One doctor's call for a conscience check when it comes to health-care reform:
As a family physician who has had the privilege of serving patients over two decades and having encountered the many spectrums of illness from minor aches to major catastrophic health issues that my beloved patients have suffered from but continue to bravely endure with or without insurance, I have a few thoughts on the current health care debate.
There comes a time when each of us has to look in the mirror of our character. Am I only for my immediate family and myself? Am I for my extended family and community? Am I for the greater fellowship of humanity? Will I feast while my neighbor is aching with hunger? Will I rejoice in my good health while my neighbor is stricken with an unexpected terror of ill health?
We felt it would be humane to not let anyone starve in this bountiful land of ours. We have support systems for food. We felt it would be humane to not let anyone behind bars suffer from the misfortunes of ill health. We have free health care for criminals. Would it be humane to let those not behind bars, that is, the free citizens of this country, suffer from the same misfortunes of ill health? Where are their support systems when their health care is not affordable?
Who is humane when a neighbor suffers from the ravages of a disabling stroke and his care costs thousands of dollars they have not? Will you seek these unfortunate ones out at your neighboring hospital and pay their costs? Not part of your character? What if another neighbor instead had a brain tumor and were dying the demeaning death from torturous headaches. Walk on? Would a Good Samaritan walk on? Would Jesus walk on?
Who thinks it is humane to profit from the utter misery of someone's sickness?
Now, imagine a group of these suffering souls. These are our own neighbors in the larger community. Who feels that a corporation should profit from the care of these souls? Those who genuinely denounce government-run health care should immediately and with no hypocritical hesitation resoundingly resign their care from Medicare, Medicaid, and the well-run VA system.
If you are not in these programs, you should persuade your parents or relatives to do the same since you despise government-run programs. Or is it that you don't despise them, but simply don't want to pay for them or an expanded version?
My friends, do you not know that private for-profit health insurance companies consume 31 cents of every dollar on profit and overhead? And Medicare? Less than 4 cents on a dollar. Nearly 41,000 Americans die prematurely from the lack of health insurance coverage every year. Are any of these your neighbors?
It is high time for the American character to shine brightly. It is high time for universal health care: one way or another!!
Mohan Chilukuri, M.D.
Assistant Professor, UNC Department of Family Medicine