This week Oregon is holding a lottery for the remaining 3,000 slots in their state health care system. That's right: a lottery. While the health care story dominating the headlines recently is the Hillary/Barack mandate debate, far more shocking stories just like this are plaguing the U.S. medical scene. The diagnosis is grim.
In Oregon, more than 80,000 people have signed up for the chance to win access to a health insurance plan designed for those who don't qualify for Medicaid, but are too poor to buy their own coverage. The Oregon Department of Human Services estimates that 600,000 Oregonians are currently without insurance.
But wait. There's more. The buried story on 60 Minutes (behind the flashier Clinton/Obama frenzy) was about a group called Remote Area Medical (RAM). The group was designed to parachute triage care into remote areas like the Amazon. Now, they're doing almost 60 percent of their work within the United States. In one mission — to Knoxville — the group saw 920 patients and had to turn 400 away.
With news like this, one wonders if any health care solution can possibly be a salve at this point. Debating the finer points of a mandate seems futile. Is the real problem not with price of health care, but the insurance system itself? What if instead of trying to buy people insurance we concentrated on making trips to the doctor affordable? And does holding a lottery for a life-saving service seem below an allegedly civilized society?