“Skin in the Game” Can Kill

By Bill Davidson, M.D.

I recently learned of a 39 y.o. professional living alone in Los Angeles who chose to drive himself to the E.R. rather than call an ambulance despite experiencing severe abdominal pain which was subsequently found to be due to a ruptured appendix. Why take such a risk? His insurance policy did not cover ambulance charges which he knew to be in excess of $5,000. His decision could have cost him his life.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has cut the number of uninsured in half (from 50 million to 25 million). In theory this should have decreased the number of deaths due to lack of insurance from 45,000/yr. to 22,000/yr. Unfortunately, there has been a commensurate rise in under-insurance which means that many who have insurance will avoid or delay important health care because of high deductibles, co-pays, and narrow coverage. This story had a happy ending but do we really want our citizens playing this kind of roulette just so the medical insurance industry can make a profit? The american health care system has more preventable deaths than any other country in the industrialized world.

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