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Thousands line up for free health care

The New York Times had an article about a free health care clinic in Los Angeles, where thousands of people lined up to get free services that were too cost prohibitive under their current medical plans or weren't covered/provided (b/c of unemployment or bare-minimum insurance plans).

In some small ways, the response reminds me of when I assisted with a spay camp in Mexico. Veterinary services are few and far between in most regions of the country and the spay camps offer free castrations, vaccines, flea/tick medications and also free health exams. These are some of the most impoverished regions, places where people work 10-15 hour days and only make 1-2 dollars a day, if they are lucky. And yet, even though it would mean taking off a day from work, hundreds of people arrived to get their animals neutered. More than 300 animals were spayed/neutered during the four day camp. People waited for hours in line just to get their dog/cat castrated.

And that is not right. Not for health care for people and, really, not for basic health care for people's companion animals.

These are the people who are spending a night in their car just to get a free teeth exam:

Ana Maria Garcia, who works for Orange County, has health insurance that covers her husband and 3 ½-year-old daughter, but her dental deductibles are too high for them all to get care, she said.

Ms. Garcia’s husband, Jorge, who was laid off from his custodial job last October, arrived from their home — a 90-minute drive away — at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to get the family’s spot in line.

I'm not just appealing to emotions on this issue. It's just a fact that millions of people are uninsured and, quite possibly, millions more are underinsured. And they are stuck. They aren't people trying to fuck up the system, they aren't "illegal immigrants*", they are just regular people like you and me. They have few options available to them.

While free clinics are fabulous, they are not the answer to our insurance crisis. Reforming the private insurance industry is the answer. I agree with what some folks are saying: this is not health care reform, this is insurance industry reform.

You'll notice I really do not spend a lot of time on political issues in this journal. Mainly, I don't get politics and also, I don't care about a lot of it. There are more important issues for me. That being said, this is personal and, as such, requires me to be a bit more vocal. So, just be warned, you will probably read more entries from me on the issue of health care insurance reform.


*Who I, by the way, think deserve basic medical coverage too. I know, crazy right?

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