Health Care Crisis Now Crosses Class Lines, San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Says
California, which was once "admired as a laboratory for managed health care," now faces a health care system "on the verge of collapse -- not only for the poor, but for the middle class and wealthy as well," San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ruth Rosen writes. Rosen notes that finding care is often difficult for the state's six million uninsured residents, and finding a doctor is the "new nightmare" for California families "blessed" with health insurance, as many doctors will not treat new HMO patients. According to Rosen, "even the wealthy" are "not protected from our dysfunctional" health care system. She writes, "No matter how rich you are, don't have a heart attack on a Saturday night during flu season: You could die in an ambulance unable to find a hospital with an empty emergency bed." Rosen says that one of the "dirty little secrets of our free-market health system" is that most private hospitals operate with "just enough intensive care beds for an average Tuesday morning" and then have a "dangerous shortage" of beds in times of disease outbreaks or earthquakes. California by itself cannot afford the estimated $15 billion it would cost to provide health insurance for all residents, Rosen says, but she adds that by ending "tax cuts for the very wealthy, resurrect[ing] the estate tax" and re-implementing "the progressive tax system of the 1950s ... we could afford universal health care" (Rosen, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.