“Us” vs “them”: the under-served patient speaks up

I know I haven’t been around lately….I will return soon…I think this is VERY important, someone thought it important enough to share it with me, I want to share it with all of you….hopefully, you can share it…and the world will realize it shouldn’t be “Us” vs “Them”! Let’s talk about until everyone listens!

Heart Sisters

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I asked permission to republish this letter written by an American friend who’s living with both multiple health issues and poverty.  She has asked to remain anonymous. I’m grateful for her contribution to an important discussion, as she offers a unique patient perspectivein this letter to the organizers of a well-known academic conference on healthcare.

“Dear conference organizers:

“Your upcoming healthcare conference forum on under-served populations brings up a concern for me that I hope you will consider in the next few months.  The best way I can explain my concern is through this example:  

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4 thoughts on ““Us” vs “them”: the under-served patient speaks up

  1. That’s very powerful and shows how quickly people can fall through the cracks while some of those trying to help are tripping over themselves to pat each other on their backs.

    Recently, there was talk (again) of a guaranteed income of $20,000 for any Canadian who do not make that much per year, to help them out of poverty. I’d read the comments and while some were positive, there is still the stigma (not sure if that’s the right word to use in this instance) of giving money to poor people. Can you trust them? Will they keep working/look for a job or sit at home collecting money? http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/06/29/poverty_activists_push_for_20000_per_person_minimum_income.html

    Two levels of government were part of an experiment in the 70s and to “their” surprise, it worked. People were better able to look after themselves, hospital visits went down, lower school dropout, etc., etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

    Ask people what they need, give them the opportunity to live their lives with dignity and trust that they’ll make the right choices. And when you give people the opportunity, let’s not be surprised when “they” do make decisions that benefit themselves, their families and ultimately, society.


    1. yes! Exactly! How can we get this message out there to people who can make a difference? How can we make sure that all voices are heard?
      and $20,000. that’s what I used to make. It’s not a lot. I was lucky and got insurance from my employer, but there were times I didn’t. During those times I couldn’t afford medications, doctor’s visits…ect. Luckily I wasn’t really sick. I remember my doctor giving me many free samples so I could have enough medicine. And once, asking the manufacturer for special compensation so I could get my medication at a lower cost. They do that a lot more now, but at that time it was unheard of. That was a Bipolar drug, if they hadn’t OK’d it, I would not have been able to take it. then what? I would have ended up back in the mental health hospital?

      People should not have to choose if they can eat, pay their rent, pay their utilities, or get their medication. Or worse…choose if they can do those things for their children. I have a friend who was losing weight, and I was proud of her, until she told me it was because she couldn’t afford to feed her children and herself. She was doing with out her medication so she could care for her children (one has special needs) and ended up collapsing at her job and being rushed to the hospital because her blood pressure and blood sugar levels were too high.

      This past year has been very hard on us. Yes we’ve had insurance, but we didn’t have money coming in. I didn’t get my tooth fixed when I broke it, I have a lot of dental work that needs to be done. I put off getting new glasses, I have gone without migraine medicine and just suffered through the pain because I knew we really couldn’t afford the medicine. I have refused to go to new doctors. There are a lot of things I simply didn’t do because I knew we needed the money to eat.
      Yes, I had a cochlear implant, but our insurance covered almost all of it. Our out of pocket expense on that surgery with his insurance from his last complany was $150, so we had it done while we were paying for COBRA. We were afraid if we waited, the next insurance we would get wouldn’t cover as much.

      I’m rambling…and I’m still a lucky one. I have had assistance. We had some help. How can we make it less a matter of us vs them?


      1. What we do is we keep talking about it. I was trying to find information on the experiment in the 70s. I think I may even do a post about it because as I was trying to find information, I found that there was no official report done after the experiment. What were they so scared of that 2 levels of government would purposely hide the information? I think it’s because it helped the people and they saw some good results. It also means people get a bit more freedom. There seems to be a hiding of information to keep us uninformed and when you are able to keep the public uninformed, or at the very least, make it difficult to find out some information, the public is more easily controlled. Can’t have intelligent people who can think for themselves now, can we?

        You’re right, $20,000 isn’t much, but for someone on disability such as myself, that’s around $8,000 more per year. I can do things such as eat healthier, find a better place to live, help with transportation, better drugs if I need them instead of what the provinces have on their list of approved drugs, improved dental care, heat and hydro expenses if they’re not included in the rent as many places have been doing. My first apartment was spacious and cost me $280 per month. That included rent, all utilities, cable, there was a pool, A/C. This was back in the 80s before all the extra cable channels. I looked at the listing for the place and it’s now $697 for a 1 bedroom but doesn’t include cable or phone. I’m trying to remember if I paid for the phone or they set it up. Isn’t that wild that at one point, that may have been included in the rent? I know at one place I lived at, you needed a landline because they hooked up the security entrance to your phone.

        There are so many different things and so many positive results that can happen when you put your trust in the people. And the things that I listed are the basics, but it’s the basics that people need to make their lives better and with less stress. No one should have to choose between drugs and food or food and rent or whatever the choices.


  2. I qualify as one of those underserved who also has mobility problems, as you know. But also better off than a lot because I got help with housing–which saved me, to be honest. Over my years I have also been one of the working poor without insurance for years at a time. It feels like you don’t really live in or are a part of the United States sometimes, you know? They make you feel like you do not belong and are not wanted.

    That was a great letter. There is such a gap between the people making the rules and the people they are making those arbitrary, uninformed rules for. The gap keeps getting wider and wider.


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