Thursday, June 12, 2008

Healthcare - who's watching the border?

This came from a good friend of mine:

I worked in dialysis from 1980 - 1986 and 2004 - 2007. In both situations I took care of many patients, some whose kidneys failed in Mexico. The social workers there told them to come to the United States for hemodialysis. Only 15% of renal failure patients are put on hemodialysis in Mexico; the rest are put on a type called peritoneal dialysis (PD). PD is actually better for the patient in addition to being much cheaper. But it requires a tube protruding from the abdomen that most people don't want, and Mexico can't afford to cover hemodialysis costs for their citizens. So they send the patients to our country.

Once here, they go to the ER and are put on dialysis. Sometimes they deny having any previous problems, for fear of deportation, so the physicians have to do more tests to determine the cause of the renal failure. It is a free ticket to all our services. The US taxpayers foot the bill for all their treatments, medications and hospitalizations. As an employee caring for them, I was expected to provide education in their language with an interpreter. This presented many challenges, made worse by the fact that many had a third grade education. I wish more people knew the burden our country's ESRD (end stage renal disease) policy places on taxpayers.

Here are some fairly current numbers:

80% Of ESRD patients rely on Medicare for their primary health insurance
$20 Billion Total annual cost of the Medicare ESRD program
$67,000+ Medicare spending on dialysis per-patient per-year
$98,000 Cost of a kidney transplant per patient in the first year

These figures do not include hospitalizations, which this population requires frequently. Annual costs easily exceed $100,000 per year for one patient.


To highlight my friend’s comments, be sure to watch this video. It’s truly alarming, especially in light of the fact that neither one of our presidential candidates have plans to do anything about illegal immigration. And this affects our health care costs.

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