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Americans like to think they have the best medical care in the world, and in some respects, for some people, they actually do. People who are diagnosed with cancer live longer in the United States than they do in other countries. People who need reconstructive surgery have better options in the United States than they do in most of the rest of the world. In the United States, your doctor may not be able to help you prevent a heart attack, but if you survive it, you are likely to get percutaneous cardiovascular surgery that opens arteries (at least temporarily) in minutes and you may even go home the same day.
The US still leads the way in developing new pharmaceuticals and new surgical techniques. Diseases that were a death sentence even in 2000 are being cured today. However, the unique downside to American healthcare among all the nations of the industrialized world is that it isn't available to everyone.
What's Wrong With Relying On The ER?
Detractors of the Affordable Care Act often claim that every American is actually covered for every condition, because federal law requires all emergency rooms to offer life-saving treatment. The law does not, however, require any emergency room to give patients the treatments they need to overcome their conditions, and it allows hospitals sometimes to "dump" patients on other facilities, and to take their time in making the transfer.
If you go into the emergency room with chest pain, the hospital or clinic must diagnose your condition and treat the pain. However, it can conveniently give you, say, an EKG and a blood workup and send you on your way when, as the writer of this article had, you have six blockages in your coronary arteries and almost any stress will trigger a heart attack. If you tell your doctor you can't afford medicine, you may get samples of whatever the latest pharmaceutical rep has left behind, and the doctor may not have to screen to see if you are in the 1 to 2 percent of patients for whom, for example, an anticoagulant can cause sudden death. This has also happened in this writer's experience. Many doctors care. Some will just get rid of you even if they are knowingly sending you to your death.
Didn't Obamacare Take Care Of Coverage?
The widespread availability of health insurance with subsidized premiums has resulted in coverage for over eight million Americans who were not insured before. However, over 25 million Americans still do not have health insurance. That's because people who make lower wages were supposed to get free coverage in the form of expanded Medicaid, and the governors or legislatures of 22 states refused to accept federal funds to cover more people who need healthcare. The State of Texas, for example, turned down over $100 billion in federal assistance for healthcare for the poor, because, officials claimed, it could have to spend $1 to $10 billion more in future years. As a result, only people poor enough to live on the streets get Medicaid in many states.