A Preventable Death Sanctioned by the US Health System

A few weeks ago, one of my close family friends, a woman I view as a second mother, lost her husband. Why? Because the American health system didn’t bother to test him for cancer in the beginning, and only found the cancer when it was stage 4 and he had little to no hope left.

It all started when he went to the doctor complaining of shoulder pain. The doctor took a look, and sent him off to the physiotherapist assuming it was just a muscle strain. When it didn’t get better, he went back to the doctor again – and again the doctor believed it to be nothing and again sent him off to the physiotherapist without running further tests. Finally, the pain became too hard to bear, and my family friend had to check himself into the hospital (which, by the way, is exponentially more expensive for both taxpayers and  insurance companies than simply running the diagnostic tests that other nations run.) Only in the hospital did the doctors take him seriously. Only in the hospital did they run the diagnostic tests they should have in the first place. And only in the hospital did they find the worst of news – he had stage 4 lung cancer. He needed chemotherapy immediately to treat it. But despite the immediate treatment, he unfortunately lost his battle, devastating a family I hold very close to my heart.

This is a story of a preventable death. Had the US system been focused more on prevention than treatment, my second-mother would not be facing every wife’s worst nightmare. The American health care system already dooms people to die. This man, one of the sweetest people I have ever met, could have been saved. But he wasn’t. And that is on the American health care system, the American government, and the politicians (and the citizens who voted for them) who think the right to survive treatable diseases is only for those who can pay for it.

There are so many issues with this new health care bill on the Senate floor. If this new healthcare bill becomes law, had my family friend survived and tried to change insurance companies – the companies should charge him more or even deny him because ‘cancer is a pre-existing condition’. The current US government has ignored the calls of the people – many of whom support the ACA (as of April 4th, 2017, Gallup reports the ACA has a 55% approval rating) – and instead insists on repealing it to ‘meet campaign promises’.

Rather than focusing on how to remove health care from 24 million people, the US government needs to focus on how to reform health care so that this preventable death and others like this will not happen. Because in a land that purports to be the ‘greatest nation in the world’, no one should die of a preventable disease. No wife should have to face what my second mother has. It’s immoral, unjust, and a testament to the failures of the ‘land of the free’.

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