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Dying on Sunset Boulevard


My post Thursday about the inevitability of two-tier medicine and the heavily mugged myth of the poor dying in the streets of America elicited some interesting e-mail, including a note from this Californian who prefers to remain nameless:

Excellent commentary on the “dying in the streets” canard spread by advocates of nationalizing health care.  It may interest you to learn that the poor in America receive far more than mere emergency-room care.  There are extensive programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, that pay for or heavily subsidize everything from private doctor’s visits to prescription drugs.
I have personal experience with this system, unknown to most Americans who never had to take advantage of it.  Years ago I was laid off from a job.  Being young and (presumably) healthy, I declined the COBRA program which would have continued my health insurance.  Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I assumed that I would, as the saying goes, die in the street (or my apartment).  I went to my local county hospital and, to my surprise, received extensive care without having to put up any money.  Many rounds of chemo and surgeries later, I was cured (and am cancer-free to this day).
But how much did all of this cost me in the end?  Not one red cent.  Out of curiosity, I requested a copy of my billing records.  I was sent a stack of documents more than a hundred pages deep.  Poring through them, I estimate that they totaled around half a million dollars — all courtesy of the state of California and the U.S. government.


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