Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Providing Medical Assistance to the Uninsured

With an H1N1 Influenza or Swine flu pandemic looming over the horizon, 50 million uninsured Americans are at risk. In any epidemic, the uninsured have the worst options with several thousand resorting to self-medication, flooding emergency rooms and, at most, prayer.

Although top laboratories in the country are racing to develop new vaccines that would be effective against this new strain of the Influenza virus, one in every seven people would not get the much needed protection because of the high cost of treatment.

What most people don’t know is that anybody can go to federally-funded community centers and get medical assistance at little or no cost. Varying from state to state, medical assistance programs for the uninsured would often involve free medical services to purchase discounts for prescribed medicines.
Health experts agree that obstacles like high costs would not help in fighting off a pandemic such as swine flu.

In response, lawmakers are already passing legislations that would provide temporary medical assistance to the uninsured at times of public health emergencies like earthquakes, hurricanes, acts of bio-terrorism and epidemics. Another bill aims to give everyone one free flu shot every year.

In principle, the federal government should be the first to move in preventing a medical emergency from gripping the country. Programs have been established to face such challenges but with the current economic recession, authorities should expand their coverage and lower the limits for people needing medical assistance.

However, one question is still subject to debate: “Should taxpayers pay for medical assistance for illegal immigrants?”