Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Nation of Typhoid Marys

Nicholas Kristof, in his column in today's New York Times, points out how vulnerable to pandemic our flawed health care system makes us.

Think of the 47 million Americans who lack [health] insurance. They are less likely to receive flu vaccines (which might or might not help), less likely to receive prompt care when they get sick, and less able financially to stay home from work — and thus they are more likely both to die and to spread the virus inadvertently.

“These are, in effect, 47 million ‘Typhoid Marys’ of the next pandemic — at risk themselves and to their families and neighbors,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Read the entire article.

There are reasons to believe that many of those who have died from the flu in Mexico waited too long to seek medical attention because they lacked both medical insurance and money to pay the hospital.

The threat of pandemic is just one of many wake-up calls that should alert us that we need to provide health insurance to all Americans ASAP. The failing American automobile manufacturers are another. Many of their foreign competitors are based in countries in which the government provides health care, taking the burden off of employers.

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