Friday, March 24, 2006

Health Insurance & MDR TB

About a year ago I wrote a paper in which I asserted that the for-profit health care system in the US was destined for gridlock and bankruptcy. Among the statistics that I used to make this assertion was one that projected a decline in the percentage of the population that was insured. The figure seems to have been a little more than 1% per year for the past five or six years. The rest of this post is educated guesswork. Let's assume that these newly uninsured are concentrated in certain localities (i.e. urban centers, rural townships, etc.). If this is true (The CW should tell you it is.) then what's really happening here is that we're growing the areas in which epidemics can spread. So far the epidemics that we've worried about in out laughable public discourse are HIV and Avian Flu, one whose transmission is easily preventable and one that doesn't even spread between humans yet. According to this article Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis and its even more vicious cousin XDR TB are on the rise. These are diseases which easily transmit between humans by airborne means. Totally disregarding treatment for a moment, what happens when large, concentrated segments of the population begin to spread a disease of this nature? Am I being alarmist to have visions of crowded 19th century European cities? Certainly we are better prepared to meet this threat than they were, but are we as prepared as the situation warrants?

No comments: