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You didn’t think the health care crisis was over, did you?

You didn’t think the health care crisis was over, did you?

Change is in the air, but Americans are still flocking to free health clinics and flying overseas to avail themselves of needed health care.

When President Obama signed the Patient’s Affordable Health Care Act into law last march, it ushered in a new era in the U.S. health care system.

Critics on the right said it went too far; critics on the left were dismayed that it didn’t go far enough. Indeed, my own joy was subdued at best. It wasn’t the bill I wanted, either, but it was a serious start at long last.

While some provisions of the bill will come into play before the end of this year, the full roll-out will take until 2018. In the meantime, people are still facing a lack of access to needed medical care and the threat of medical bankruptcy.

CBS News recently covered a free medical clinic held in Los Angeles. (April 27-May 3, Los Angeles Sports Arena) The clinic, open 12 hours a day for seven days, is staffed by 300 medical volunteers and is expected to help 1,200 patients per day. The patients are among the jobless, the working poor, and the middle class.

The clinic is run by Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps and is just one of a series of clinics to take place around the country this year. You can see the complete 2010 schedule of free clinics HERE.

Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, says that he began the organization in 1985 to get American doctors to volunteer and bring modern medicine to the third world, but now 64 percent of everything they do is in the U.S.

Watch the CBS Video about the LA Clinic:

Meanwhile, CNN aired a report on Americans who are bargain shopping for surgery and having to travel abroad to get the medical care they need.

Godfrey Davies of Indianapolis was in need of surgery to remove nasal polyps. Uninsured, he did some surgeon shopping and found that the procedure would cost $33,000 – $34,000. At 100 percent out-of-pocket, the surgery he needed was completely out of reach. Mr. Davies went shopping overseas, finally scheduling his surgery in Wales, U.K. At a total price of $3,600, including airfare, he was finally able to get the much-needed operation.

According to the report, such outrageous price differences are not unusual across the board. As for Mr. Davies, he got the care he needed with very good results.

Watch CNN’s report:

On the good news front, Reuters reported that United Health will immediately stop the despicable practice of rescission (terminating coverage for policyholders after they become ill) even before that portion of the law kicks in on September 23, except in cases of fraud. Assurant Inc. and Aetna Inc. have indicated they would do the same but have given no date. WellPoint Inc. plans to end the practice on May 1.

Also ahead of deadline, several insurers have already begun extending coverage to people under age 26 on a parent’s policy.

This Thursday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is quoted in an Associated Press report as saying this about the health care bill:

“The plan is not without flaws. But it is the law. And it is time for California to move ahead with it. Thoughtfully. And responsibly. The bottom line is this: If national health care reform is going to succeed, it is up to the states to make it happen. How can you be a Republican governor but in support of health care reform? The answer is that this is not a partisan issue. It doesn’t matter whether you are Republican or Democrat. Rich or poor. Young or old. We all need quality health care.”

Navigating the patchwork of health care is still a challenge, one that will be with us for a long time. As Americans continue to struggle through a broken health care system, perhaps more of our leaders will do as Gov. Schwarzenegger has done, and make an effort to work toward real solutions, putting people before politics.

We’ve got some rough years ahead, but change is in the air.

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1:50PM PDT on May 22, 2011

Don't know what all the uninformed comments are about. When I was working in the states my insurance paid for the medacine which the NHS (UK health system) does not pay for, so I am paying about $2,000 a month for it, and paying the NHS from my payroll taxes. I see that the health care costs in the US will go up about 8% this year, and it's not the insurance companies - they are trying to control costs. It's those that are covered and the choices they make.

12:38PM PDT on Jun 20, 2010

Ahnold said it right. Change, for me is still a long way off, but now visible.

4:52PM PDT on Jun 15, 2010

Acne is considered a "disease" and usually covered by health insurance carriers, but disfiguring facial growths are not covered if found to be benign. So the patient pays for tests and procedures if no skin cancer is found and the tests and procedures are considered "cosmetic" -- and coverage kicks in only if there is indication of disease. What a system!

10:40PM PDT on Jun 14, 2010

I am in desperate need of dental care. I may have to take a trip to that LA clinic just to get it, because I don't have insurance and the state insurance doesn't cover cavities and tooth repair.

4:56PM PDT on May 19, 2010

I hope that clinic comes up to North calif. I haven't seen a doctor in years. I have worked hard since I was 11yrs old but I can not afford health insurance. Luckily I have taken it upon myself to learn about nutrition and fitness. I know I still need to see a doctor at some point. My brother is only 46 and he just had heart surgery.

12:30AM PDT on May 4, 2010

Thanks for post

12:58PM PDT on May 2, 2010

Thanks for sharing.

8:56AM PDT on May 2, 2010

Wow..what a mess!

6:02AM PDT on May 2, 2010

Take my private health care system, please!

11:09PM PDT on May 1, 2010


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