Archive for February, 2013

Immigrant Health

February 9th, 2013

Modern Healthcare’s February 4th, 2013 issue was titled, In Denial.  It was about immigration reform and the fact that health coverage will, at the present time, not be offered to those 11 plus million immigrants who will be permitted to get in the queue to become legalized citizens.

According to the article “Proponents of giving limited healthcare benefits to currently illegal immigrants argue that doing so would alleviate some problems that affect everyone and could reduce costs.  The number of uninsured residents would fall much closer to zero; reimbursement for hospitals and health centers would improve; and insurance costs could fall as the younger and healthier immigrants join the insurance pool.”

However, both the Senate and President Obama’s proposals do not include any extended benefits.  Unfortunately, because a large number of these uninsured and currently illegal immigrants are being treated at America’s Community Health Centers, it will put excessive burdens on those organizations and emergency rooms across the United States.

One way to address the disparity of the uninsured, some suggest would be for the government to reinstate special payments to hospitals.  These benefits would be directed specifically for illegal immigrant care provided in those emergency rooms.  To put the number of uninsured in prospective, California has 2.55mm, Texas has 1.65mm, Florida with 825,000mm, NewYork with 625,000 and New Jersey and Illinois with 550,000 and 525,000 respectively.  The remainder of the other 4.25mm immigrants are then in the other states of the United States.

The fundamental question for both parties is one of philosophy and math.  We know, for example, that historically about 7% of our population is consuming approximately 80% of our healthcare dollars, specifically, our Medicare healthcare dollars.  But there is also a question of the conflicting philosophies of saving everyone at any cost while not acknowledging the acceptance of our own mortality.

There is another sensitive philosophical and political conflict regarding taking care of our fellow man.  If we simply do the math, we begin to see that some relatively logical changes could have a very significant impact on the numbers, but then the questions come down to education, intelligence, greed, power, control, religious beliefs and a myriad of other human realities that separate us from the other animals in both good and bad ways.

As a country our decisions not to treat mental illness and to continue to keep all drugs in the illegal category,  have  resulted in our having more people incarcerated per thousand than any other G8 economic power country.  We incarcerate at a rate that is four times the World average. With less than 5% of the world’s population, we incarcerate 23% of the world’s total imprisoned people.  We have chosen to jail our mentally ill population.

In healthcare, we still do not appropriately fund wellness and prevention and, as stated above, mental illness.  In the 60’s we spent 18% of our incomes on food in this country and 9% on healthcare.  Now we spend 9% of our income on faux and genetically altered food, sugar and corn syrup enhanced food, and 18% on our healthcare.  Does anybody see the potential connection here?

Education, drugs, prison, tolerance and inclusion, the Golden Rule, and appropriate distribution of wealth that is not dependent upon the approximately 12,000 registered lobbyists working Washington D.C. could be a start.  But just like gun violence . . . someone has to have a rational discussion at the top levels of government to make any progress.  Optimism is not one of my better attributes when it comes to the government and personal greed.