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What’s Wrong With Us?

I spent the weekend volunteering at a biker rally. While I was at the registration area one evening, a call came in about a woman falling in a culvert. I tagged along to assist a friend who used to work in an emergency room.

As we approached, we saw the woman laying on her back with a crowd surrounding her. She was asking for her husband and had obviously injured her leg. The people helping her thought it was broken. It was swollen, and she was unable to walk. When her husband arrived, she demanded he carry her back to their tent. She begged everyone not to call an ambulance because she couldn’t afford it. They honored her wishes.

I couldn’t help but marvel at how messed up our society is. Someone who needed emergency medical care refused it because she could not pay for it, and everyone understood. It’s hard to say what’s more notable, the fact it’s so ingrained in our thinking that we must pay exorbitant fees to receive essential medical treatment that someone would think first about cost after a serious fall and the pain of a broken leg, or the fact that everyone else seemed to tacitly accept that reality.

This post isn’t intended to serve as an endorsement of universal healthcare, a single-payer system, a free market solution, or anything, really. I just find it amazing that there’s so clearly a problem and that we’ve let it go on for such a remarkable amount of time that we’ve actually resigned ourselves to accept the worst possible set of circumstances imaginable. If we can’t get our act together with something as important as basic medical care, what can we get right?

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