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AP Gives Us Lessons About Healthcare

From the always pitching Associated Press:

This Nov. 13, 2009 photo shows Daniel Drake waiting for doors to be opened at a clinic held by Remote Area Medical at Union County High School in Maynardville, Tenn. Drake drove 3 hours from his home in Soddy Daisy, Tenn. to have dental work done.

Lessons of a weekend of free health care

By Adam Geller, AP National Writer Sun Jan 3

MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. – The two-hour drive is done, but Hannah and Jack Hurst leave the Honda’s engine running.

Hannah’s prayers have brought them here. Now there’s little to do but turn up the car’s heat, get some sleep and wait for morning — and a set of glass and metal doors to open.

Still, Hannah doesn’t complain. The 26-year-old mother of three has waited "pretty much as long as I can remember" to escape the pain throbbing through her jaws. Jack lost his road construction job a year ago and health insurance is out of the question. If the answer to Hannah’s misery lies behind those doors, what’s 10 hours more?

Out in the dark, the Hursts have plenty of company. Even before 10 p.m. on this Friday in late fall, nearly 50 cars ring the lot. By 6 a.m. Saturday, more than 400 men and women stand tightlipped and bleary-eyed under the Big Dipper.

By day’s end, as long as they keep tempers in check and sleep from their eyes, they will win the privilege of care from a dentist or a doctor.

In a country convulsed over health care, the scene is alarming. But it is always the same, Stan Brock says. For 17 years, Brock has piloted a nonprofit called Remote Area Medical, offering free health care to the uninsured, the underinsured and the desperate.

Brock has seen so many crowds like the one outside Union County High School he chides himself for losing track of whether this is RAM’s 578th expedition or its 587th. Yet in every crowd, there are hundreds of Hannah Hursts, each a unique testament to the nation’s ragged pursuit of health care answers.

Over the next two days, RAM’s volunteers will examine, extract and prescribe hundreds of solutions for individual aches and afflictions. They will, in the few moments left, attempt to convince patients they’ll probably never see again of the virtues of healthier living and continuous care. They will try to answer Hannah Hurst’s prayers.

Lawmakers debating reform could almost certainly learn something here in the trenches.

But the most striking lesson might also be the most daunting: To fix health care inequities, expanding insurance alone may not be enough…

When the numbers are totaled, Expedition No. 587 into America’s health care jungle will be recorded as followed:

Over 1 1/2 days, 701 patients have come through RAM’s doors.

Its dentists have extracted 852 teeth and filled 234 others; 345 pairs of eyes have been tested; 87 people have been examined by a medical doctor.

If RAM was going to send out a bill, it would total $138,370.

Does that make it a solution to a crisis or a symptom? The answer may lie beyond the bottom line.

When Brittney Prince goes back to school Monday, she’ll be wearing her first pair of eyeglasses.

"Momma," she says, gazing outside, "the grass is not fuzzy any more."

And when Hannah Hurst — her toothless mouth stuffed with gauze — is helped from the chair, she hugs her caregivers. At church, raising money for dentures may have to wait until spring. But, at last, her prayers have been heard…

This AP article is nearly as long and as anecdote-filled as a typical New York Times sob story. And we still aren’t sure what the lesson is supposed to be. 

That is, apart from the usual lesson in every AP piece about healthcare: we must pass ‘healthcare reform.’

Perhaps the AP is now pushing for ‘healthcare reform’ that includes dental and eye care as well. (Benefits offered by very few employers these days.)

Surely, that too will come.

Certainly one unintended lesson seems to be that some people will undergo a lot of hardship and waste a lot of valuable time for something if it is ‘free.’

If you do the math, the $138,370 worth of ‘free’ dental, eye and medical care these 701 people got figures out to a cost of $197.38 per patient.

These folks could not afford to spend less than $200 on something as vital as their health?

We don’t believe it.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “AP Gives Us Lessons About Healthcare”

  1. proreason says:

    The lesson seems to be that people need dental work about 12 times as much as they need health care.

    So based on this study, proreason’s suggestion is that the HealthScare Monstrosity be scrapped, and the 15 million uninsured American citizens be given $200 of dental vouchers a year at a cost to the country of $3 billion dollars.

    That will save about $997 billion dollars a year.

    Unless we can figure out out to make sure that the dental vouchers can only allowed to be used for dental work instead of for purchasing booze and drug, in which case the country will save about $999.7 billion dollars a year

  2. TwilightZoned says:

    “It’s dentists have extracted 852 teeth and filled 234 others…”

    Hmmm the rate of extraction to fillings is almost 4:1. Is that due to real neglect where teeth could not be saved or cost effectiveness? If I had to guess, it’s the later. No crowns for the poor. Furthermore, who got the fillings? Young people or adults? If I had to guess, mainly young people. This is a glaring parallel of the type of cost effectiveness and to whom meaningful services will be delivered with national health care.

  3. U NO HOO says:

    This is so fishy the scales are tipped.

  4. neocon mom says:

    If these folks qualify for Medicaid, it provides for childrens’ dental, vision in some states, and dental emergencies for adults. While it can be difficult to find a provider who takes Medicaid in many areas of the country, there are even programs in many states to help with transportation costs.
    Even before the more recent S-CHIP bill was passed, children are very well provided for by our tax dollars already. This of course always boils down to the involvement and initiative taken by their parents.

    • jobeth says:

      You’re right. Most major university medical schools have care on a sliding scale. And most larger cities have major medical centers that offer indigent health and dental and vision clinics, also on a sliding scale. I personally know of none of the above that refuse medicaid.

      This is just another smoke and mirror trick from the lefties.

  5. jobeth says:

    Perhaps if that clinic wasn’t there…there would be “people would be dying in the streets” because they couldn’t get their teeth removed.

    I wonder how much they spent on fuel. No less than $75 I imagine. How much for food and drink?

    And, just a guess mind you… I wonder how much their cell phones cost…assuming they have one…which I wager they have.

    There’s the cost of their dental care in about 2 months.

    I haven’t even mentioned the sodas and beer and chips and McDonalds etc during a typical month.

    Now, I know I don’t have any way of knowing that this particular family has this situation. But it’s pretty difficult to think that most there don’t have some version of the above mis-spending.

    Oh well, we tax payers have the money…so we must give it to them….then join the line in a few months because WE can’t afford health care/dental care/eye-care.

    Much more of this “no middle class tax hikes” and we won’t have a pot to p*** in.

    For the record…I am totally for helping those that can’t help themselves. But too many of the “poor” seem to have money for the “funner” things in life. Can’t seem to find the money for the not so sexy necessities.

    But don’t the libs feel good about themselves.

    BTW…I swear that looks like Hulk Hogan in that photo. Man times MUST be bad all over! :-D

  6. MinnesotaRush says:

    “Out in the dark, the Hursts have plenty of company. Even before 10 p.m. on this Friday in late fall, nearly 50 cars ring the lot. By 6 a.m. Saturday, more than 400 men and women stand tightlipped and bleary-eyed under the Big Dipper.”

    “By day’s end, as long as they keep tempers in check and sleep from their eyes, they will win the privilege of care from a dentist or a doctor.”

    Under “o-blah-blah care”, this scenario will just be “another day at the clinic”.

  7. Confucius says:

    There is a lesson here.

    If the AMA and the rest of their socialist colleagues opened more RAM Expeditions, all would be solved.

    Everyone would get healthcare, even the freeloaders, and no one would have to pay more.

  8. TerryAnne says:

    I’m not getting this sob story. This 26-year old mom of 3 (ahem) and wife of an unemployed construction worker has had pain in her jaw as long as she can remember, but she couldn’t get it taken care of while her husband was employed? Unless she has short term memory problems, I’m betting that she can remember farther back than one year (read: the time when hubby had a job).

    Another thing not being said here: tooth extractions are actually more expensive than root canals/crowns. Dentists (worth their weight in salt) will only resort to extractions as a last resort. Who’s going to pay for the 26 year old’s dry socket or infections if they arise?

    Also, 1 1/2 days = 2160 minutes. Let’s say that – hypothetically – this clinic was open for the entire 36 hours. If there was only one doctor working, that would be approximately 3 minutes per patient. So, let’s say that there were probably 3-5 doctors and 3 dentists. That’s still only 9-15 minutes per patient. Since we know that the clinic wasn’t open for 36 hours straight, the average time drops down to about 2 minutes per patient (if only one doctor; 6-10 minutes by numbers set earlier). So, what exactly was accomplished in those short amounts of time? Methinks that the care was sub par and rife with problems. How many people were treated by nurses instead of doctors?

    Another question: how exactly did a little girl get a set of glasses from a temporary facility set up at a high school? That isn’t Hour Eyes or some other company that has the materials set up to cut and shape the lenses in an hour. Therefore, I’m betting that they were using at least the lenses from dontated glasses. Since each person’s eyes are different, did that little girl actually get the glasses she needs; one’s that are not going to cause her more problems down the line? I doubt that.


    • Confucius says:

      If these people are getting bad medical care, then they either don’t know it or don’t care because they’re going through alot to get it.

      Personally, I say let them have it. Who are we to interfere with natural selection? Especially when it’s this ironic.

  9. Lisa22 says:

    Well, as someone who has lived in the UK – this article is hilarious!! Does this guy write for Pravda, the Russian controlled newspaper? Seriously, this is how the article would read if we get national health care:

    “Hannah and Jack Hurst came to the clinic to get free health care and waited all night in their car. When the clinic’s doors opened, they were told that the first appointment to look at Hannah’s teeth would be ‘a year from now.’ Hannah, horrified, asked what should she do if her teeth became infected? The receptionist shrugged. ‘A year isn’t a long wait. If we get many more people, it will be soon be a two-year wait. Whaddya want? It’s free.'”

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