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Millions of Black and poor Americans have fallen through the proverbial cracks when it comes to the nation’s health care industry. And a litany of economic and social factors contributes to the dilemma of a failing health system. A large part of the problem is environmental and poor lifestyle choices, as well as limited access to health care and therapeutic medical research information.
Also, when the Black and the poor do receive medical attention, it is sometimes abusive. And it is usually newspapers, not government oversight, that has been at the forefront in unveiling these abuses. Moreover, even working people that are covered under HMO providers find it increasingly difficult to afford medicine and doctor visits because of the onslaught of additional fees and co-pay costs.
“What’s happening is that more and more patients are deferring preventive services because it’s costing them more,” said Dr. Edwards. “Think about it. If you’re going to see five different doctors because you have multiple health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and eye problems and at every visit there’s a $35 d co-pay, on a fixed income your money will run out very quickly.”
There are, of course, limits to what even the best doctors and medicines can do and the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is still very much relevant.
“American medicine is not geared toward prevention,” said Dr. Heidelberg. “All of the specialists have their procedures. And so prevention comes down to the general practitioner, and they’re so busy handling problems that they don’t have time to do prevention. So until we change the system where we make prevention the basic feature of American medicine, we’re not going to make any significant change because a lot of money is being made on procedures.”
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