Thursday, May 28, 2009

Armed Robbery For Insulin

image Yes, you read that title correctly.  It seems that an armed man attempted to rob E-Z mart in Arkansas to get forty dollars to pay for his insulin.  The clerk reached into his own wallet and gave the man the money he needed.  The two shook hands and the alleged thief left the store. The police are currently searching for him.

Without insulin a diabetic will die.   It is as necessary to life as water, food and shelter and yet this man was reduced to committing an armed robbery to ensure that he could live.  There are those that will read this story and say that theft is theft but I urge you to consider what you would do if your life was on the line. The fact that we have commodified heath care is positively criminal.

In Canada you can see a doctor for free due to our socialized health care system, however unless you are hospitalized or are on welfare, drugs are the responsibility of the individual.  The situation is even more magnified in the United States, where each person is responsible for paying for the cost of their health care privately or through some form of insurance.  There are many that are currently uninsured due to an inability to pay.  Hospitalization, or a long and protracted illness can decimate a family financially.  There are many who avoid seeking medical treatment because they cannot afford it, thus allowing a small issue to become a life threatening problem. The best way to deal with health is to be proactive, not wait until treatment options become limited and even more expensive.

image Year after year pharmaceutical companies report record profits even in nations like Canada and Australia that limit the amount they are allowed to charge.  I live in a border city and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Americans purchasing drugs, both prescription and over the counter medication.  Americans that live close to the US/Mexico border also find that purchasing drugs in Mexico to be much cheaper.  Overnight, online pharmacies have sprung up all over the internet offering cheap drugs for sale.

While the alleged thief in the above incident certainly could have chosen to pawn or sell his gun for money, I think it is particularly salient to consider when it comes to drugs who the real criminals are.  How many die each day because of an inability to pay for the drugs that they need?  How many are taking only half of their prescriptions and skipping doses on a daily basis.?  Not everyone is able to receive free samples from a kind hearted doctor.

image Though I have three chronic illnesses, I  have excellent insurance and have never paid out of pocket for a single prescription in the last 12 years.  Some months the tally for my drugs hasreached almost a thousand dollars.  What family could afford that for months on end?  My health and the health of millions globally is dependent upon a social construction – money. 

Can we really blame people when they become desperate because they cannot afford the care that they need even as big pharma continues to profit?  Money has no more value than that which we ascribe to it, whereas; life is impossible to quantify.  Each day the economy continues to worsen despite the feel good forecasts from economists; how many will be forced to desperate measures because we have a system that values money more than people?



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