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Feeding the beast


Many of us know this monster. No, it isn't Dr. David Himmelstein, pictured above. The beast's name is The Health Care System, and we U.S. citizens are feeding it $300 billion annually. This ungodly amount regurgitates things such as Big Important Suits who bank $50 million bonuses every year, just for doing their jobs.

Forty-six million people in the United States currently have no health insurance. Over the past 2 1/2 years, 82 million people living in the richest nation on Earth have been uninsured for at least a month. Sixty-two percent say they want reform.

Here's a simple example of how things are going. Pretend you have to be on simple cholesterol-reducing medicine. If you are insured, you pay five bucks a month to help balance the bod. Don't have insurance? Sorry, pal. Try $161 a month. You can shell it out, or you can buy groceries -- and have the rest of us pay for your heart attack.

Himmelstein, head of Social and Community Medicine at Cambridge (Mass.) Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, is in town this week, keynoting an important conference on health care reform at UCCS.

Himmelstein's got a really good story about our health care system, compared to the way Canadians do business. Recently he visited a huge, 900-bed hospital in Toronto; its billing department consisted of three people. Back in Boston, Himmelstein toured a similar 900-bed hospital. There were 350 people in the billing department.

"It's not that they were inefficient," he says. "In an American hospital, that's what you have to do to recover your fees."

-- Cara DeGette

Photo courtesy of David Himmelstein, M.D.


David Himmelstein, M.D.

"Health Care Reform: A Medical Emergency"

Temple Shalom, 225 S. Union Blvd.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

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