Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The third world in the U.S. - it's real

Rural regions of Virginia have a lot in common with other regions of the United States - distance between neighbors, questionable economy from plant shut downs or company withdrawals (think GM and Flint, Michigan; the gold rush ghost towns of the West; and the New England papermill towns), and a lack of health insurance. But the region also has a lot in common with Guyana and East Africa - thousands of people show up to get treated at a free medical and dental expedition. So many, in fact, that hundreds are turned away.

What does this say about the country in which these individuals live? It says that healthcare is not a priority, people really don't matter, and the state of things is worse than we think. Recent figures released by the CDC showed that 15% of all Americans are uninsured. That means that in a room of 100 people, 15 have no way to care for their teeth, eyes, diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnancies, infections, migraines, cancer, flu, whooping cough (it's coming back!), or anything else they may contract, present with, or suffer from. And how many more only have basic coverage without dental, eye, or both?

These numbers, sadly, include the government programs. They are not covering everyone, which they are supposed to do. Changes are needed to prevent many areas of the U.S. from becoming the third world.

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