If charity were a valid solution to the health care crisis in the US, we wouldn't have a health care crisis in the US right now.
Larry Elder of Townhall.com has moved on from "everybody who doesn't have health care is spending their money on cavier instead" to "let the charities handle this because they'd be so good at it."
Since Mr. Elder doesn't live in reality, I'll fill him in on a little secret: we've been trying that. For years. It isn't working.
Unless you live in a very small town, you have a free/low cost clinic where you live. There may be more than one. Here's how they work, or at least how the one in my town works:
- They are staffed by interns the same way ERs are, only these interns want to be general practitioners. There is one experienced doctor watching over all the interns.
- They have a very limited capacity. There are only so many exam rooms, so many interns, so many hours in a day, and only so much money. You may wait months for an appointment at a free clinic to see an inexperienced doctor.
- They offer very little in the way of testing. The one I went to could only do very simple tests on site: finger prick tests for blood sugar, the urine test for protein, etc. Tests for strep and the like had to be sent out to an independent lab, and the patient pays whatever the lab charges, if they can.
- X-rays, MRI's, echocardiograms, blood tests, etc. all have to be referred out, and if you have to go to a free clinic in the first place, you can't afford to pay for an x-ray, let along an MRI.
- You see whatever intern you happen to get that time. This makes ongoing treatment for a chronic disorder, even one as relatively simple as arthritis, inconsistent at best.
- There are no specialists at most free clinics. Medicine has become superspecialized in recent years. A general practice intern, no matter how talented or well trained, just doesn't have the knowledge or experience to effectively deal with heart issues, neurological disorders, etc. I know this because I had to tell several interns how to treat my seizure disorder. I'm lucky I learned this from the neurologist I had previously been seeing. Otherwise, I would have been totally screwed.
- You pay for medications. Medications are expensive.
- You pay for surgeries. Surgeries are expensive.
- You pay for therapy, mental or physical. Therapy is expensive.
A free clinic is an acceptable option for a person that has an ear infection. If all 50,000,000 uninsured persons in the US were young and healthy, free clinics run by charities would be the solution. Unfortunately, that's just not the way things are. If charities were the solution to the problem, there wouldn't be a problem. We already have charities, and we still have a problem. Ergo . . .