The Best Health Care In The World

Senator Ted Kennedy is said to already be walking the halls of his hospital. The operation they said was a success and he’s ready to go from North Carolina to Boston for radiation and chemo. His courage and fighting spirit have been mentioned, and so they should be. In fact it seems to me they are a trademark of everyone I’ve ever known to fight cancer–as if in a way they were pre-requisites, and perhaps they are for studies do show how important attitude is in relation to the success of cancer treatments.
But so far no one has mentioned another important factor, his ability to obtain the best health care available for this condition, perhaps in the world. Given his position and connections Senator Kennedy was and is in a position to find out and have access to the very best of anything. Going to North Carolina may have stopped some, but he had the means. The surgeon’s schedule may have been a problem for some, but if you are Senator Kennedy surely it is easy to have concessions made in your name even if they were not asked for. Congress has some of the best health coverage in the country, on top of which the Senator is in a position to have out of pocket expenses many could not handle. There are those who would not know how to research the best surgeons, the best hospitals, whose doctors may or may not be willing or able to guide them through the maze it can be. Again Senator Kennedy’s position must have made a difference.
The result is that the Senator was able to have a delicate surgery performed under optimum circumstances for someone of his age and his type of malignancy. The problem is not that Ted Kennedy is getting the best treatment possible, why shouldn’t he, and certainly not that his life is undoubtedly being prolonged, albeit who knows for how much longer. The problem is that I who is among the few to have decent health coverage would probably not have this kind of care available were I to have this kind of cancer, and neither would anyone I know.
I am quite sure the Senator himself is aware of this discrepancy, and it may be behind the reasons he has championed health care causes for decades. It all adds to the irony that he is now an example of the difference between the health care haves and health care haves-not. Still the lesson for us is the vivid reminder of how often the inequality in health care access is a life and death matter.