Updated: Oct 16
There is a definite disparity between “the haves and the have nots”. What I’ve learned through experiences with healthcare in Tennessee for both myself and my late husband is if you have health insurance, your care/treatment is different from the treatment you receive with no health insurance coverage.
My husband was very ill for a long period of time. This was in the 2000s. He passed away in 2012. When entering the emergency rooms at various hospitals, he usually ended admitted into the hospital. Once it was learned that he had no health insurance, one of several things happened:
After running “basic” tests and not finding out the root of or the problem itself, the hospitals wouldn’t do any further, in-depth testing. He wasn’t referred to specialists as readily as those with insurance.
The doctors themselves weren’t as readily available to discuss his diagnosis nor recommend much else. In other words, they pretty much treated him just enough to “patch” him up and send him home. They didn’t take the time to have a consultation.
Certain medications weren’t even recommended.
Apparently the doctors/staff didn’t read his file for each visit/stay. If they had, they would have questioned why his prescription for a particular antibiotic was always refilled; this went on for years. As a result, he contracted C-diff. The C-diff caused other problems and as a result, he had to wear diapers for the rest of his short life. We weren’t doctors; we trusted them to detect these things.
The reason I could so easily detect the disparity in care is because the places I worked offered health insurance. The places he worked (when he could work) didn’t. With my hospitalizations and treatments, they were more thorough with testing. They were in and out of my room regularly with more testing, I was consulted with about testing (the purpose, what they were looking for, what the tests involved). With my husband, on the other hand, I had to constantly inquire what was being done, why, and initiate a “consultation”. There was less communication about his condition and had I not been present to ask questions, seeking out the doctors for information, asking why this test or that test or procedure wasn’t being done, then we would have been told nothing. He was often treated as an “afterthought” and then they’d send him back home with us not knowing any more than we did when he was admitted. I finally had to stop working so I could be his advocate for his medical care.
Paying for insurance for him on our own was totally out of the question due to the “sky high” premiums and pre-existing conditions. When I had to quit working, I was in the same situation. We were both too young for Medicare and were denied Medicaid for reasons I can’t remember now (it’s been years ago).
The healthcare system is broken and it needs to be fixed. I believe people die needlessly due to a poor healthcare system.
Anne M. Mitchell