From time to time I wax cranky about medical care my family has received. But the truth is, I’m one of those fortunate Americans who has really good health insurance. And I live in an area that is extraordinarily dense with good doctors and hospitals. In fact, we live within an hour of not one, but three, children’s hospitals alone.
I was feeling grateful for my privilege this weekend while reading Dr. Steven Parker’s blog on children and poverty. Parker, who blogs on WebMD, is an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University. In his blog, he notes that the greatest public health threat to children in this country isn’t obesity, or STDs, or even car accidents. Instead, it’s poverty, because impoverished children face greater threats to their well-being (e.g., domestic violence, poor schools, lack of access to health care, poor nutrition) than advantaged kids. Moreover, he notes, impoverished children “suffer worse long-term outcomes when exposed to these threats than do advantaged children.”
Combine that with the current debate over expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and you come up with a scary picture. According to a front-page article in the San Francisco Chronicle today, 21 states will run out of their money for the program unless Congress boosts the funding — soon. (California alone may have to kick 60,000 children a month off their rolls.) Millions of children facing greater health threats, yet denied health care, simply because their parents are poor? I find the idea truly shocking.
If you care about this issue, write your representative. ‘Tis the season, after all, to lend a hand to the needy.