For a while I have considered posting on “the public option” in healthcare that I am most familiar with, the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Program. The history of this disease-specific program is fascinating, and I think it provides a good example of what “the public option” could be (and why private insurance companies are scared).
- You are employed by the government (like congress)
- You are or were in the military
- You are of “retirement age”
- You are disabled
- You are poor with dependent children or you are a dependent child
- You have kidney failure
That’s a whole lot of health care already run by the government. In my experience, it works pretty well with far fewer headaches than many of the private insurers generate.
I was toying with a post about this topic; however, someone has provided a far more compelling story than I could tell as a physician. Jennifer Nix in Salon tells us the history and realities of the Medicare ESRD program through a family saga:
My family's 36-year journey with end-stage renal disease -- the only long-term, chronic disease classification for which the U.S. government provides insurance coverage, regardless of age or income -- offers a telling case study into what once met Congress' standard of an unequivocal, moral imperative to provide public-financed health insurance. My family history mirrors exactly the period from 1973 to 2009, during which this entitlement program has allowed access to life-saving dialysis and kidney transplants, treatments previously denied to all but a very privileged few.
We have identified a number of groups for whom we, as a society, feel a moral imperative to provide health coverage. Isn’t it time that a nation with our wealth and spirit extends that opportunity to all of our citizens?
Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.