The Role of The USPS In Health Delivery
When I worked in the emergency department, almost all patients had to get some sort of test—a blood test or an xray. And lots of times those test results took a few days to determine the results. Like, if a patient had an infection that required a specific type of antibiotic, that took a few days to figure out. Of course, by then, most of emergency department patients had been discharged ‘to home.’
Even though the patient had been discharged, the medical staff still needed to reach the patient to let them know about the need to come back for treatment. Of course, the staff would try to reach the patient by phone, but often patients did not have phones, or, the call went to voice mail—and personal medical information cannot be left on voice mail…Nor can it be texted.
So, how did the medical staff communicate important medical findings to patients? Especially to those patients that needed to come back to the hospital for medical treatment? Why, through the US Postal Service—by sending the patient an actual, physical letter. Not email, not a phone call, not text, not twitter or Facebook—only through the US mail, can medical institutions prove that they’ve tried to reach the patient. This is the necessary ‘physical paper trail’ that hospitals and doctors offices need to protect themselves should the patient never come back for medical treatment.
USPS Is A Branch of HealthCare
Actually, lots of healthcare happens via the mail. Lots. Without this ‘pony express highway’ running efficiently, patient safety and patient wellness is compromised. Consider this:
· At least 1 million prescriptions are sent through the USPS every single week.
· 80% of medications are sent to veterans by mail. These are important medications that control blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression and many other critical medical conditions.
· Medical notices for lab and x-ray results, and upcoming appointments are sent via mail.
USPS Is an Economic Engine for the USA
Additionally the USPS is a critical ‘super highway’ for getting
· Upwards of 72 million social security checks are mailed every single month.
· 472 million letters, checks, legal notices, love letters (remember those?) are delivered each and every day, regardless of snow, sleet or snow (as the saying goes) gets delivered to every American household.
· And still, today, some mail is delivered by mules (think bottom of the Grand Canyon).
· And, the USPS is as American as it gets—every single Founding Father supported the creation of the postal system. It’s even in the Articles of Confederation
Also, loads of Americans work for the USPS—roughly 600,000 Americans! One of those Americans included my father, who got a job as a letter carrier (or, back in those days, ‘a mailman’), to help him afford college.
The USPS Is Santa’s Helper
And let’s not forget that the Postal Service also sends letters to Santa Claus—several hundred thousand letters (True statement). If the postal service is cut, compromised or decommissioned, who will deliver all those letters? And more importantly, who will respond? Because—and this is true—the postal service employees will respond to the letters with a hand written response signed by Santa and—this is also true—some employees will purchase gifts for the children!
The Cost of Knee-Capping the USPS
So, this discussion about dismantling or knee-capping the postal service is not only a very serious healthcare concern, it is also a workforce and American identity crisis—for what is America without our 6-days-a-week US mail service?
If this non-partisan, non-profit organization goes away or is severely limited who or what will, in the absence of this Great American Institution, replace it? Goodness help us all if it becomes privatized. We know what happens when institutions ‘get privatized…’ Private for-profit companies will close post offices to save money, which means households in rural areas might not get home delivery but only regional delivery. Services will probably be cutback from 6 days a week to 4 days a week. For all that ‘great service’ of fewer days and no home delivery, these private companies will charge you more to mail a letter so that the executives can raise their stock share price.
The Best Value Money Can Buy
What organization that you know of can deliver 212 billion pieces of mail each year, to anywhere in the USA for 55 cents? Anywhere, any letter, 6 days a week for 55 cents… (Honestly, what can you possibly buy for 55 cents that produces that much value?)
USPS is More American Than Baseball
No question about this—the USPS is not only ‘like’ Mom, Apple Pie and Baseball, it is Mom and Apple Pie and Baseball of our Great United States. Stand united for the USPS because in doing so, We The People, are standing up for ourselves.