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Let’s Talk About Making Healthcare More Accessible (video example from Ilana)

Author: Ilana Somasunderam

Somasunderam, Ilana. Let’s Talk About Making Healthcare More Accessible (Video Example from Ilana). Vimeo, KQED Teach, 31 Dec. 2019,

Let’s Talk About Making Healthcare More Accessible (video example from Ilana) from Ilana Somasundeam

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The phone would ring, and I would let the call go to the answering machine. About half the time, it was my uncle or my best friend, and I would pick up the phone. The other half, the message would go something like this: “Hello. This is Bob from X Debt Collection Agency. According to my records your payment is 174 days past due. Since we still have not received the payment, I wanted to follow up to determine when the payment will be made to prevent legal action.”

Before caller ID, my parents taught me to screen phone calls. As I got older, I started to find out more details about why the collection agencies were calling. When my mom was 28, she had a brain hemorrhage as a result of a birth defect. To treat this condition, she had to undergo an experimental surgery. What followed were insane medical bills, and because she didn’t have insurance at the time, she racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. My parents worked 12-14 hour days during my childhood and were still unable to keep up with the bills. Now, over 30 years later, thankfully my mom is perfectly healthy, but it took decades to pay down our family’s medical debt.

The quality of medical care a person receives should not depend on their wealth. And it shouldn’t put them in infinite debt. “Medicare for All” is not a new concept. Harry Truman advocated for a national health insurance system 70 years ago. According to a Gallup poll, 57% of Americans feel that it is the responsibility of the government to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Only 34% have “very or somewhat positive” views of the healthcare industry. Most striking to me are these maps of preventable hospitalizations vs. income in my home city of San Francisco. What this means is that people who are poorer have less access to primary care services, and because hospital care is more resource-intensive, it is also expensive.

While I don’t have a stance yet on how our government should address this problem because it is difficult to forecast a policy change of this magnitude, I appreciate models that take into account how a change will impact access to preventive care for our most marginalized communities.

Word count: 386


DMU Timestamp: November 27, 2019 01:26

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