System run amok

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Recently my nephew needed to be flown to a Pittsburgh hospital for life-saving surgery. His dad has a good job, and most of the medical expenses were covered through health insurance.

But about a month after the surgery, the family was surprised to note that the helicopter ride to Pittsburgh had cost $37,000. You can fly to Hong Kong and back 23 times for less than that.

Until now, many unemployed Americans have received their only medical care through trips to the emergency room, because they can’t afford regular visits to a doctor.

As a nation, we’ve been trying to decrease unemployment, but it’s tough to do. Our medical system contributes to the problem. For example, not many dentists accept Medicaid. And it’s difficult to find a good job if your teeth are missing.

President Barack Obama doesn’t come from a wealthy family. He’s trying to make medical care more affordable — for everybody — because he knows all this.

A woman I know lost her medical insurance through her employment. Her company decided it could cut expenses if its employees pursued medical coverage through Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In her fear of additional expenses when her budget is already stretched to the breaking point, my friend blamed Mr. Obama for the loss of her health coverage.

I told my friend President Obama didn’t cause her problem.

I told her the problem is that we’ve created and enabled a medical system in which even a ride to the hospital can cost $37,000.

CARL SCHULTZ
Johnstown


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