Doctor makes pitch for quality health insurance

Local Democrats tie in with national effort to reform health care

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br>
Dr. Zaffar Iqbal talks about health insurance during a presentation at Democratic Headquarters in Kingman Saturday.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br> Dr. Zaffar Iqbal talks about health insurance during a presentation at Democratic Headquarters in Kingman Saturday.

KINGMAN - Dr. Zaffar Iqbal was working in a clinic in a small town in New York several years ago when he watched as a man brought in for chest pain died.

Iqbal later learned from the young man's family that he suffered from diabetes and hypertension but hadn't received any treatment because he didn't have health insurance.

Delaying to see a doctor because a patient doesn't have insurance isn't uncommon, Iqbal said.

"As a physician, I see this every day because people don't have access to quality health care," Iqbal said.

The American Medical Journal last week said an investigation of more than 2,300 bankruptcies found that 60 percent of those were because of medical bills.

Even those with health insurance find their policies don't cover all their expenses, Iqbal said.

Iqbal spoke at a health care event hosted by the Democratic Headquarters Saturday in response to President Barack Obama's focus on health care reform. The event was one of many taking place across the country. Similar events will be hosted in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu in the next two weeks.

Patrick Gonzales, county chair for the Democratic Headquarters, helped organize the event and was one of several local people on line for a phone call between organizers and the President last Thursday. In his most recent radio and television address, Obama said health insurance reform is one of his top priorities.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, introduced draft legislation last week that would, among other things, stop insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage.

"Insurance should not be a privilege," Gonzales said. "Everyone needs to do their part so everyone is covered."

Iqbal, who is from Pakistan, said he is alarmed by how many Americans don't view quality health insurance as a right, much like their right to education.

"The point is not to see it from a Democrat or Republican angle but as Americans," Iqbal said. "The more informed people are, the more they can hold people in power accountable."

Gonzales said the Democratic Headquarters will host a number of health-related events in the coming months as part of Obama's pledge for health care reform. A blood drive is tentatively scheduled for June 27 at the Kingman Public Library.