Or if he does, he’s even a worse person than I’d realized. After suffering chest pain in Hawaii he was evaluated in a hospital. When discharged today, he held a briefing in which he praised the U.S. health care system as being the best in the world and remarked that he sees nothing wrong with it at all. He also stated that he received no special treatment. (I don’t have links yet, as it was just on TV.)
Such unmitigated arrogance. Such hateful, uncompassionate ignorance. Chest pain can be a useful example of how we approach health care in the U.S., so let’s dig and see how spectacularly wrong Rush is.
Since Rush is staying in a nice place, he is likely near a nice hospital. There is a great disparity in availability of certain health resources. On arriving at the hospital Rush likely received immediately medications that can slow damage to an ailing heart muscle (including morphine). He also would have undergone an EKG and various lab tests to see if he was actively having a heart attack. And he apparently underwent cardiac catheterization, a specialized procedure in which a cardiologist can look for heart blockages. If the hospital is a specialty center with a heart surgery team on call, the cardiologist can also open up arteries if necessary. If he had been having a heart attack and this hadn’t been a specialty center, he would have been given clot-dissolving medications instead. This is still an effective immediate intervention, but some patients cannot have it for medical reasons, and in some patients it is not as good in the long run. About a third of patients with a heart attack get the drug instead of catheterization because only about 25% of acute care hospitals are equipped for the procedure. These hospitals are not evenly distributed.
In addition to specialty care being limited geographically and economically, there are significant racial disparities in cardiac interventions (and as you know, this usually doesn’t work out well for the black guy). And if a patient manages to land in a specialty center and have the best procedure done, there are still problems. A certain kind of cardiac stent works better than others, but if you have one place, you have to be on a particular expensive medication for at least a year. If you can’t afford this medication (clopidogrel) then you are at high risk of having your stent close up. Hopefully your doctor knew of your financial situation and was able to place a bare metal stent rather than a drug eluting one, but in the heat of the moment, who knows?
This doesn’t take into account the care received before and after the event. Rush presumably has excellent access to health care and access to good preventative care. Many Americans do not have access to basic primary and secondary prevention resources, including drugs, doctor visits, dietary counseling, affordable healthy foods, and exercise programs. Many poor patients discharged from the hospital after a heart attack cannot afford the cardiac rehabilitation and medications necessary to prevent further attacks.
To look at our system, and compare it to other industrialized democracies and not see the problems is either willful ignorance or malevolent mendacity.