The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Do your kids deserve health care?

with 4 comments

Illustrious Barbara Ehrenreich ponders American healthcare in Health Care vs. the Profit Principle.

I once tried to explain to a Norwegian woman why it was so hard for me to find health insurance. I’d had breast cancer, I told her, and she looked at me blankly. “But then you really need insurance, right?” Of course, and that’s why I couldn’t have it.

This is not because health insurance executives are meaner than other people, although I do not rule that out. It’s just that they’re running a business, the purpose of which is not to make people healthy, but to make money …

After describing the mansions of fabulously wealthy Dr. Prem Reddy, owner of eight hospitals in California (which offer only those services that turn a profit), she writes of his outlook:

Patients,” the Los Angeles Times reports him saying, “may simply deserve only the amount of care they can afford.” He dismisses as “an entitlement mentality” the idea that everyone should be getting the same high quality health care. This is Bush’s vaunted principle of “private medicine” at its nastiest: You don’t get what you need, only what you can pay for.

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Written by Monte

July 16, 2007 at 1:11 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Compassion and care

    Re “Hospital group rejects system and cashes in,” July 8

    The article is a sensationalistic piece. The statement, “Patients, [Dr. Prem Reddy] said, may simply deserve only the amount of care they can afford,” is appalling and goes against all of my beliefs. As a dedicated physician for over 30 years, I have committed my life to patient service and providing the highest quality of care to any and all patients. I believe medical care is a basic human right, and we have an obligation to provide the best possible care in every situation.

    Compassionate patient care for all is the foundation of Prime Healthcare Services and its hospitals. In fact, Prime Healthcare Services’ hospitals see more uninsured patients and provide more charity care than most other for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals. They have received numerous national awards for outstanding patient care and community service. Prime Healthcare Services and I will continue to serve our communities and stay committed to providing the highest quality of compassionate care to all patients.



    The writer is chairman of Prime Healthcare Services Inc.

    Monte says: Thanks for your comment, Dr. Reddy. I hope you are correct.

    LA Times

    August 13, 2007 at 3:28 pm

  2. I will consider reading her book if time permits.
    I will have to look into the definition of healthy life expectancy. It is surprising that it is so low. My initial thought is that eating, exercise, and stress habits of Americans are the root of the problem, but I will look into it. I assume you went the the WHO website?

    Monte says: Yes, Josh, all correct. American violence, smoking, and diet are indeed among the factors that result in a low score. Also among them is lack of access to medical care in inner cities and some native American communities. I understand, as well, that certain illnesses are not well covered by many insurances. A scenario I’ve read about is the person with high-blood pressure who can’t afford medication for it, resulting in it going untreated until a life-changing event (commonly a stroke) is triggered.

    As always, the problem is more multi-faceted than either conservative or liberal stereotypes: there are both system issues and personal choice issues.

    Monte says: Josh, check out ClapSo’s link in a comment on my post called “No Schip.” Interesting!


    July 18, 2007 at 9:19 pm

  3. Josh, your comment piqued my curiosity. I Googled some world health data and found that the USA ranks 24th among the world’s nations in healthy life expectancy. Canada is 12th.

    In terms of the World Health Organization’s ranking of the performance of healthcare systems of the world’s nations, the USA falls to a dismal 37th. Canada, also not so hot, is 30th.

    More money is spent per capita in the US on healthcare than in any other country, yet our approach nets results that average out to be among the lowest of the industrialized nations. Those who have been healthy and insured or are independently wealthy have access to what may be the best healthcare in the world. But averages are averages: imagine how bad the care for millions must be to bring that amazing excellence clear down to an average below that of most economically comparable nations.

    See Doctor’s Guide and


    July 18, 2007 at 12:12 pm

  4. I found this article interesting…

    I just googled individulal health insurance plans and found multiple offers for premiums ranging from $25 to $150 with deductibles of $500 to $5000 and with most deductibles in the neighborhood of $1500. There did not seem to be a correlation between premium and deductible for the most part.

    As a college student I worked a part time job and carried my own insurance for several years it was about $250 dollars a month. I shared an apartment and purchased a used car. I had to make sacrifices in order to do this. I was single and had very few obligations. These were also choices I made Ikept my obligations low until I could afford to take on more.

    I say all this to show that to a certain extent being able to afford insurance is a choice. I understand that some people have extinuating circumstances and need help. I’m not sure but I thought that is what medicaid is for. Also people should step up and help when someone in there circle is in need. Speaking from experience, my company’s receptionist became very ill, many people in the company have plegded both time and money to help (not insignificant amounts).

    In my opinion this is not the responsibility of government or allowed by the constitution. While I am sure there are greedy people out, like the man in the article the alternative is worse. I have heard many complaints about HMO’s this would be millions of times worse if the government was in charge no matter what party. You only need to look North to Canada.

    Monte said: Hi Josh, good to hear from you. I wonder if you’ve read Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed. It’s a good read, and quite a revelation for folks with backgrounds like yours and mine (and while I suspect I’m older than you, my college-years story is pretty similar). Millions of people can’t do what we did. Ehrenreich, to write the book, locked away her savings and took a near-minimum-wage job in order to find out what was really possible and what wasn’t. It is eye opening.


    July 17, 2007 at 9:56 pm

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