Monday, March 23, 2009

City Life

Money Determines Your Level Of Medical Care
By Erin Maguire

Dillon McCarthy is a happy, healthy 20 year-old student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. However, his whole life would have been different were it not for his family’s private medical care. McCarthy found this out at age nine. "I was sledding to one of my friends’ house who had a long hill type driveway, and I actually sledded down the driveway, into the street and got hit by a car," McCarthy said.

McCarthy was brought to Framingham Union Hospital in Framingham, Massachusetts suffering from a broken femur, which is the bone connecting his hip to his knee, and a cracked knee cap. Three procedures later, including a large operation in which a two inch pin was put in his leg, McCarthy was in traction and his wounds weren’t healing well.

"The doctor told me that my best bet was manual surgery, meaning that he wanted to go in by hand and put the bones together,” said McCarthy. “But the worst case scenario was they would have to put a metal rod in my leg and that I may be crippled for the rest of my life and have to use a walker.”

McCarthy says his family's first instinct was to get another opinion, which they did. “This doctor noticed that the pin had actually been placed in my calf, a foot and a half away from where it needed to be,” said McCarthy. “We were shocked. We never thought to doubt our first doctor who the hospital had appointed to us."

A year later, McCarthy had made a full recovery and today he walks normally. "If we hadn't have had the money to pay for private care, I would be crippled today, and that's pretty scary to think about. That's the main reason I support universal health care, I think that it's so unfair that you get better treatment based on how much money you have," McCarthy says.

Healthcare has become a growing concern in many family budgets. According to Web MD, "a recent Kaiser Family Foundation telephone poll of 2,003 adults shows that Americans rank health care as one of their top personal economic concerns. Nearly three out of 10 of those surveyed said they have had considerable trouble paying for medical care or health insurance, and they blame the problem on the struggling economy.

“We had a very well known business person from a wealthy family in Boston whose mother was brought in to Oak Knoll as a long-term resident,” Says Barbara Maguire, 50, who has worked at various skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) for over thirteen years. One of her biggest concerns are those patients who come in with little money 'know how' and end up paying most of their savings to the nursing home. She agrees that certain people have the upper hand in medical care because of knowing how to pull the strings in the system.

Maguire says the patient had her Medicaid application filed and approved quickly. “Her son knew right away what expenses Medicaid would cover, like hearing aids,” says Maguire.” This woman was very hard of hearing and could probably have used hearing aids long before she got to Oak Knoll. Her son knew how to work the system, and how to get around the rules. All of this lady's of assets were protected because her son had it set up.”

Maguire cites the inequities in the healthcare system as one of the reasons for some of its failures. “You have families that don't have a lot ending up losing all of their family assets while others who have a lot more keeping theirs."

This unfair level of healthcare could seem disparaging to some, but Maguire has hope. She feels that the healthcare reform President Obama is working on is a step in the right direction and that the outlook for the future is hopeful.

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