In Fresno County, the preterm birth rate is 12% in a 70% Black or Hispanic zipcode while in a historically white zipcode area where over 66% of it’s residents are white, the preterm birth rate is only 7% in a report published by UC Berkley’s Graduate School of Journalism. And it’s not just a “Fresno” thing, in this video I touch on the affect that zipcodes have on premature birth.
In recent years improving health care coverage has been a rather hot topic among Americans. According to information on KFF.org, between the years 2000 and 2010 the amount of uninsured Americans increased due to decreasing employer sponsored health insurance and the rising cost of health care coverage. The number of uninsured accelerated during the recession when many lost their job.
Many Americans unnecessarily die and suffer each year simply due to the fact they don’t have healthcare coverage. Dwelling in a nation where essentially, in a broad sense one’s wealth determines whether or not one may simply survive greatly challenges morals and ethics. An article on nesri.org states that the United States has a higher infant mortality rate and a lower life expectancy than comparable countries. These two facts give doubt to fairness in the United State’s healthcare system as well.
“Without healthcare insurance I feel insecure,” says Revelan May, an uninsured American. “I feel it’s a necessity that everyone should have access to.” In addition, the idea of health care being a necessity and free seems to be a rather common belief among American citizens.
“I think healthcare should be paid for by the government, I think it is something people should get,” says Misses Reilley, a satisfied insured high school teacher and American citizen.
Many countries, such as France and Canada, have what could arguably be deemed free health care systems where all citizens have health care coverage. Both France and Canada have lower infant mortality rates than the United States according to the Data World Bank. Both countries have a higher life expectancy as well.
According to an article on NPR.org entitled France’s Model Health Care For New Mother, a woman named Mary Lou Sarazin had a better experience and was more satisfied with France’s health care system while pregnant. She had a pregnancy in New York and had not obtained the same degree of satisfaction as in the article she stated, “I just felt like when I was in New York, it was always stress, stress, stress, I just didn’t like the care I was receiving.”
However, such satisfaction may have resulted not from the health care system alone, but from the kind nature of the individuals as well. In the United States many often frown upon paying taxes for health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that basically provide free health care for those who simply can’t afford coverage on their own, as they are often assumed to be taking advantage of such programs. In contrast to this view, more than half of Medicaid recipients, 61%, already have a job, according to an article on blogs.wsj.com entitled Get a Job? Most Welfare Recipients Already Have One. The United States unfortunately seems to be a nation that has difficulty working together and supporting one another, this may simply be the result of American nature rather than human nature.
With around 45,000 deaths of individuals each year due purely to their inability to obtain proper health care services, the United States is blindly digging itself into a bad place. The United States claims to be “A nation with freedom, liberty, and justice for all.” However, a nation may not honestly claim to be free and represent justice so boldly when its citizens acquaint death simply because they are rejected health care due to their low economic status and when they are enclosed by a constant feeling of insecurity as they don’t feel their country will take care of them if they were to fall ill or were to become severely injured.
Some Canadians are considering the establishment of a privatized health care system like the in the United States as they feel the system will be more efficient this way, but their health care systems still are inclusive of all citizens and create a more healthy civilization overall. They provide a greater degree of security for their people and in many ways are more acceptable in moral and ethical terms.
The United States may currently indeed be a world superpower and a very influential nation as well as a widespread role model. Though, despite all this glorification, its surface perception is a bit deceptive and the overall actions of its citizens tend to contradict the basic foundation and principles which it was built upon. Within a country where individuals to some extent refuse to care for one another, advancement in the common sense can only occur so much. If individuals are not healthy and are not cared for, they can’t run a country, it just is not possible, eventually, after being robbed of so many potentially exceptional people, a nation will fade.
On March 18th the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors held a discussion and workshop to help determine whether or not they will provide healthcare funding to undocumented people.
Many gathered at the Sacramento County Administration Center in downtown in full support of providing healthcare to everyone. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was among the many who came and he gave a testimony stating “I am here fully supporting the folks here that have the shirts on that say health4all.”
The Health4all campaign is pushing for a reversal of a decision made by the county board in 2009. If it is reversed then healthcare will be provided for people without documentation.
“The Health4all campaign is critical for Sacramento County,” says Elaine Abelaye-Mateo from Building Healthy Communities. Sacramento has a dense population of undocumented residents and people being affected by this lack healthcare. Many undocumented people end up having to go to the emergency room and receive hefty bills they can’t pay, so ultimately the government is paying for this.
“Rather than taking care of things down the line, we can prevent so many things,” says Diego Vargas, a medical student from UC Davis. These repercussions have a heavy impact on our economy and the board of supervisors could be the people to fix this. Through workshops and discussions, they are working towards a reasonable compromise and better living conditions for Sacramento’s residents.
Visionaries from over 30 community organizations from the Building Healthy Communities coalition came together on March 14th to prepare for a Sacramento County workshop that was held later that week. Local undocumented families and members of the general public attended this event to make their voices heard.
Many of these people have been through devastating experiences due to denial of health care coverage. Their passion for equality and human rights is what is fueling their drive. Their hearts are set for the safety of all people, especially those who are being denied hospitalization in emergency situations.
The audiences for this workshop included:
- Health Care professionals, including clinicians and organizational leaders.
- Local elected city officials
- People who care about health access for everyone
The term qualified non citizens includes:
- Granted withhold of deportation
- Cuban/ Haitian entrants
- Lawful permanent residents (LPR/Green Card Holder)
- Paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
- Member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian born in Canada
- Conditional entrant granted before 1980
- Victims of trafficking and his or her spouse, child, sibling, or parent or individuals with a pending application for a victim of trafficking visa
- Battered non-citizens, spouses, children, or parents
“There are a lot of people who get sick, who get injured and they currently don’t have anywhere to go to take care of the emergency,” says David Ramirez with Sacramento Area Congregations Together. “If they have a diabetic or asthma crisis they go to the hospital for now but they can’t get prescriptions for long-term (care). They can’t get follow-up checkups without paying cash out of their pockets at the full rate add period. Medical Cost are very, very high, and poor people can not pay them so they stay sick and they die.”
“Everyone needs access to healthcare and the undocumented are people just like everyone else,” says Ramirez. “They are working, paying taxes, and have needs like everybody else.”
“These people are working hard and providing services we need, if you have one segment of the population that are sick and dying that weakens your country,” Ramirez says. “It’s a crime against the United States to not take care of our people, and these are our people.”
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, was passed and signed in to law in the spring of 2010. It aimed to reform the American healthcare system and give citizens access to more affordable quality health insurance. Many citizens of various class and ethnicities began to apply and receive affordable health care. However, one immense and crucial population of people were left out from Obamacare…undocumented immigrants.
It’s estimated that nearly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, meaning that some 11.2 million people do not have access to health care.
According to Juan Hernandez, an Oak Park resident and immigrant from Sinaloa, these immigrants usually get sick but wait until the last minute to get help.
“Sometimes we get sick or something and let it add up and add up until we finally can’t take it and end up in the emergency room,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez recalls a moment when he was injured but couldn’t pay for his medical bills.
“Back a couple years ago I was working on the roof and I took a wrong step and fell I ended up landing on my back. It didn’t hurt much when it happened but it started to later,” said Hernandez.
An article talks about different facts about healthcare, and it claims that nearly 18,000 people die in the United States each year because they are uninsured.
“I never wanted to go because at the time I was working a job that was helping me sustain my family and I didn’t have any spending money,” said Hernandez. “When the pain finally became unbearable I went into the emergency room, while they did the different scans they found out I had a cancerous tumor.”
“I ended up getting it treated through different avenues but it was a long process.”
Hernandez believes if he would’ve had a doctor he could’ve figured this out sooner.
“If I had a regular doctor they could’ve found this before but most of the time me and the undocumented community face different judgements and don’t have the money to afford a doctor so we go on feeling bad but not being able to do much about it,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez and many other people in the Oak Park community hope that this can change and that they can all receive healthcare. After all, “We all work and get our hands dirty like everyone else,” says Hernandez.
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The purpose of this statute was to provide affordable healthcare for all who need it in the United States, regardless of gender or pre-existing conditions. As of March 31st, 2014, 7 million people have taken advantage of the new legislation and are now receiving health care benefits. However, the benefits have not been extended to all those who call the United States home. Undocumented immigrants- which make up almost 5% of the US workforce- are unable to take advantage of the new “healthcare for all” mentality. The California Immigrant Policy Center is working hard to make the dream of basic health care a reality for every undocumented immigrant in our state, and they are making sure everyone knows about them and their cause with the “Health For All Undocu-CARE-van”.
A journey covering more than 500 miles, the caravan took health advocates, youth leaders and undocumented immigrants traveled from San Diego to Sacramento to propose a new health care act, the Health for All act, which would allow any and all undocumented immigrants in California to access the same health care benefits Americans receive through the new legislation. Senator Ricardo Lara, representing Huntington Park and Long Beach, is the author of this new legislation which will hopefully gather more support in the upcoming months. This Undocu-CARE-van was one of the first steps towards creating awareness. The caravan of advocates boarded a 12-seater van covered in colorful signs, large posters of band-aids, and Vapor Rub bottles with the words “Health4All” emblazoned on the sides. These large images were designed to illustrate that the undocumented citizens of California are tired of treating their loved ones with ineffective home remedies.
“Excluding people from access to are hurts the overall health of our communities, and does not reflect California values.” says Senator Ricardo Lara, the man behind the creation of the new health plan.
To read the complete bill, visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1005.