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Why is the US healthcare system so cruel?

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I'm reminded once again just how nasty and cruel the US healthcare system is. On Friday, my mother in law was rushed to the hospital here in Paris following a stroke. It's been a rough weekend for the family because her condition is so serious. Fortunately she was sent to the top hospital in Paris for this condition so she is in the best possible hands.

My father in law is a mathematician and generally the most logical and calm person that I know. Under these circumstances though, he's been struggling with the pain of wanting to help his wife of nearly 50 years. It's been difficult to say the least. What's noticeably absent from this process is worrying about fighting with his insurance company. The focus is completely on the patient and trying to make her comfortable and healthy. A few years ago when Jojo and I were taking care of an elderly friend here, it was the same.

I then compare this to what I witnessed in the US when my father was dying from poor cancer treatment. (I wrote this post comparing the two systems back in 2007.) My mother was a complete emotional disaster from both worrying about her husband and also trying to navigate the insurance coverage. As exhausting as it was trying to care for my father and hoping that his condition would improve, it was even more exhausting fighting over payment coverage. Both my mother and father always worried that his cancer treatment would bankrupt them.

Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir with this but really, the US healthcare system is about as mean spirited and nasty as I've ever seen. We allow the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to get away with almost whatever they want. We have too many people in the political class - mostly Republicans, but too many Democrats - that accept and allow this. It's all about campaign money and few people in Washington are willing to make the hard choices to stand up for regular Americans.

For the Dick Cheneys of the US, the healthcare system is fantastic. There's no question that the US is full of great doctors and world class medical care. The problem is, we don't call them the 1% for nothing and most of us are not part of that world. For the 99%, it's a struggle. How is it that in such a great and rich country like the US, we can't just focus on patients, but have to be so stressed about how badly we're going to be shafted by our insurance company?

Will Obamacare help make this problem less stressful? Like everyone else I don't know. But keeping the system as it stands today (or God forbid, moving backwards) is not an acceptable option. We have to start improving the healthcare system and start treating our own people with compassion - real compassion, not GOP compassion - if we're to remain a serious country. Americans deserve better than what exists today.

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