Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dying of Poverty in America: Dying from Completely Preventable Causes.

A man who has been effectively unemployed for almost two years tells his true story. He was not an alcoholic or drug abuser, he lived most of his life doing regular jobs and living on the bottom rung of American economic life. Suddenly  nine months ago, he as he approached fifty years of age, his body began to, for lack of a better word, fail. He attributed the sometimes crippling back pain and other problems to a litany of injuries from hard labor and a very active physical lifestyle.

It turned out his kidneys had been damaged. Finally managing to get some medical attention from a local clinic, he was told he had some health problems but nothing to serious. He changed his habits and diet and his symptoms alleviated, but he was still unemployed and living on a small check month to month.

When his savings ran out, he could no longer buy the vegetables and fruit that had made up his vegetarian diet. With food costs rising monthly, and his savings gone, he went and received food stamps to help him have enough food to get through the month.

He was no longer able to afford a plain diet of vegetables and fruits. To his chagrin, he said it was surprising to realize that processed foods and meat were far cheaper than the simple, healthy food his body required.

He now continues to try and get work and attempts to eat as well as he can, but his symptoms return whenever he's forced to either eat meat and starches, or have no meals at all. His friends help him, but they eat a typical local diet, which leaves him with few options.

As for medical care, despite getting better insurance, simply getting to see a doctor is a maddening chore. He can call his clinic, and maybe someone will answer. Then, they might even forward his call to the offices of his medical professional (not a doctor), then no one will answer and nothing ever gets done. The only time he gets a medical visit is if he travels an hour one way to the clinic and physically makes one, then, as he says, "the last time I made a return visit appointment, but I could never get the tests I needed scheduled, so there was nothing for me to do when my appointment came. The clinic charged me twenty-five bucks for not making the appointment, but never set-up my medical tests as they were supposed to."

Aggravating the situation was the fighting over bills that his insurance was supposed to cover but delayed or refused to pay, leading to him having to attempt to call around and get things worked out with various medical facilities and try to handle the often multiple billings for the same procedure that would come every few weeks. Meanwhile some of the bills went to collections and then they had to be dealt with until the insurance finally paid.

All of this results in a lot of running around and never getting any actual medical care. Meanwhile, once his kidneys fail, the government's own medical insurance will pay for everything he requires, but he'll receive that care only after it does him little or no medical good whatsoever. He has already told his friends and Medical Care Professional that he won't be considering dialysis or other measures.

So this man is dying, quite literally, even while in possession of medical insurance and in one of the most advanced nations on earth, simply because the only care he will evidently ever actually get, is life or death care after it's too late to save his health.

Like I said, not a drunk or a druggie, this formerly active and athletic man is now watching his own body change into a corpse as the months drag on, without the income or the ability to get the simple, basic, things he requires to live a normal and full life.

Poverty kills.

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