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11 August 2009 @ 02:46 pm
apparently this is that health care rant I’ve been storing up  

I started this post to say I’d just checked my Walk to Rivendell mileage sheet. I actually only have the last two 150-ish mile bits of Aragorn’s journey to complete for all the outward-bound stuff. I’ll finish that this /year/! But then I got dragged in another direction, which may be largely preaching to the choir. Perhaps I’ll put it behind a cut tag, to spare the masses.

As a derisive socialist feminist atheist, I would like to say with no irony what-so-ever, God bless these people: Progressive Religious Groups Line Up Behind Obama On Health Care: “Members [will be arguing] the moral and religious imperative of providing “inclusive, accessible” health care coverage and the need for a civil discourse about the issue, says Jim Wallis of the progressive Christian group Sojourners, one of the coalition sponsors. (Hat-tip to suricattus for the link.)

And while I’m on the topic of praising those who believe different things than I do without being *morons*, let me also mention I am an American conservative shitheel, a self-titled piece by someone who went on to say “”This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration…” (hat-tip to A Bodenstown Perspective for the link.)

And since I seem to be doing a bit of political link salad here, a look at how We’ve Been Trapped Inside a Bad Health Care System So Long, We Don’t Even Know How Much We’re Missing. (hat-tip to my dad for the link.)

The Daily Kos had a story recently about losing health insurance by going to the hairdresser.

There’s another article somebody linked to recently that I didn’t bookmark, apparently, the gist of which is “Face it, folks, you as taxpayers are already paying for the uninsured, because somebody has to pay those bills. You just aren’t actively aware of it.” The numbers the article had suggested that without a nationalized health care plan, tax payers were paying something like double the costs for emergency care than they would be for a health care plan that would permit people the opportunity for preventative care instead of post-trauma care. Wish I had the article.

I’m currently living in a country which has socialized health care. The Irish, by and large, cannot grasp why Americans would move to Ireland. If we cite health care as one of the reasons, it’s not unlike dropping into Swahili as if we expected it to be their native tongue. This is because they feel their health care system is *crap*, and really, as far as I can tell, compared to many European countries, it is.

But compared to having no health care in America, it’s golden. I mean, we decided to move to Ireland for lots of reasons, including the adventure of it, but health care was one of the reasons. I’m a full time writer. That’s not a job that comes with insurance (Rachel Caine discussed this recently). Ted’s a chef. The insurance we were offered through his company in Anchorage was more than we could afford: the co-pay was so high we wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage, much less the other bills. This is literally inconceivable to the Irish. They cannot imagine losing their homes over medical bills. They cannot imagine being effectively dumped back in the street the moment the bleeding’s stopped because they have no health care insurance. They think it only reasonable that when Ted broke his arm, he paid nothing to have it set and checked up on, and just flat-out can’t grasp that our former housemate Shaun had ended up with, I forget now, eighteen or something thousand dollars in medical bills after *he* broke /his/ arm badly in college. They’re quite certain America has the best health care in the world, which is probably true, if you can afford it. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to move *back* to America, because without some kind of guaranteed health care, we can’t afford the possibility of catastrophe. I find that frustrating and sad.

My parents were trying to remember when the whole question of *needing* health insurance came into play. It’s a scam, of course; the whole system is a scam, based on conflated prices, over-worked (though God knows I won’t say over-paid, because I know too many of them) doctors, skyrocketing malpractice suits, and sales of outrageously priced and frequently unnecessary prescription drugs. Based on the insurance companies being for-profit, taking money in while trying not to let any go out. It’s a desperate situation for people just trying to *live*: it means living in fear, even if it’s not a constant nagging worry, that if something disastrous happens your life is going to be destroyed. There *needs* to be some other solution, and I’m terribly afraid that the goddamned government is going to manage, once more, to throw it all away. To create a ‘new, improved’ system which is not at all improved. Laura Anne had a quote on Twitter: “Why haven’t Congressfolk opposed to a public option given up their own taxpayer-subsidized healthcare? Hypocrisy? Ya think?”

*sigh* I’m already late for the afternoon word wars, so I need to stop ranting and go do some work, but God, this is so frustrating. America’s supposed to be a nation of the brightest and the best, and yet this is the best we can do? The pinnacle of our achievements is an attitude of “I’ve got mine, screw you if you haven’t got yours”? How forward thinking, generous and kind we are as a nation, then.

(And what really infuriates me is that Americans [and perhaps I should just make that 'humans', rather than Americans in specific, but] are, as a rule, generous and kind people. You only have to look at what happened in the Katrina aftermath, or the Indonesian tsunami, or, hell, innumerable online fundraisers for people who’ve gotten into a bad spot, to see how ready and willing dozens, hundreds, thousands, *millions* of people can be to offer help to those who need it. But not if it’s a by-God tax, apparently, because then you’re infringing on my *rights* and my *choice* to spend money generously. *Fuckers*. That’s all I’ve got left at the end of the day: *fuckers*.)

(x-posted from the essential kit)

Current Mood: bitchybitter
Melinda: Not all Treasure is silvermythrana on August 11th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
Very good post and some great points made.
joycemocha on August 11th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
I think my parents met the new animal that was health care insurance when I was about eleven years old or so, back in the late 60s. My DH had an individual catastrophic health insurance program when we got married in 1981; something he'd had for ten years starting with his stint as a dairy farmer. Certainly we were used to paying for our own bills and functioning without anything other than high-deductible bills at that time. Once he got the corporate job, though, we went on their healthcare (which was cheap, cheap, cheap in the early 80s).

The growth expenses of healthcare have happened during my lifetime, and it's not a pretty thing to contemplate.
wortschmiedinwortschmiedin on August 11th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
Next to a number of other things, this post drives homoe to me once again: You are a darn good writer.
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
*laughs* Well, thank you! :)
Merry: Branfeed_your_muse on August 11th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
A very interesting post; horrific to think that people can lose everything at a time when they're extremely vulnerable just because they have to pay extortionate bills. Health care in England varies in quality. When I was a kid I used to have frequent ear infections/ tonsilitis which culminated in me getting it every six to eight weeks when I was eight. My regular doctor kept putting me on antibiotics, but it was a locum that got me in for the surgery that put a stop to the whole thing. It would have been horrendous trying to pay for it, mind. (Well, my parents would have paid for it, but still.)

Rachierachie203 on August 11th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
Wow, excellent post. I find myself as one of the unfortunate many in the social services that lost their jobs due to recent budget cuts in Illinois. With this job loss I find myself in the difficult situation of trying to figure out if I can afford health insurance. Thankfully there is now a COBRA subsidy that makes it more affordable, but this is capped at 9 months. I even attempted to get my own insurance, which turned out to be a joke.

I don't understand a system where people have to choose between having insurance to avoid bankruptcy if something happens and being able to make rent each month - let alone by groceries!
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, they've adjusted COBRA lately to make it marginally more tenable, but for such a *short* amount of time with regards to the current economy, and in view of most peoples' generally tenuous savings & financial status to begin with, it's not *much* more tenable than it used to be. It's madness.

And, of course, the people who have never had to choose between insurance and groceries/rent have very little grasp of how that situation can occur. It's not like my husband and I were poverty-level unemployed welfare recipients when we ended up in the position of no longer being able to afford health insurance...and neither are many, many others.
Flitterbyflit on August 11th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
Health care should not be for profit. I am convinced of this.

Also, public officials should be required to use the lowest common denominator health care granted to their constituents. As well as their families.
dancinghorsedancinghorse on August 11th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
And required to pay the full market price for it. With the highest co-pay and the narrowest restrictions available. Ever seen a doctor for anything whatsoever? Preexisting condition! Deniiiieeeeeeeed!

Good rant, Kit. Thank you.
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)
Absolutely agreed on all counts. And thanks, Judy.
martianmooncrabmartianmooncrab on August 11th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
Ireland recently restructured their eligibility for free meds, and are using an income scale now. At least thats what my friend Anne was telling me, she earns too much to get her pills for free there.

I have free medical and free medications from the US govt, but then, I am a permanently disabled veteran at a high percentage. Plus our local VAMC has a very low kill ratio, which makes it one of the better hospitals in the system.
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
Yes. Ireland's reigning government thinks the US model is an excellent one for banking, housing, medicine, commerce...they are not, in other words, very bright.
irishkateirishkate on August 12th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
you forgot they think your education system is the best too.....
Amandatreehugginhippy on August 11th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Did you know that for me to successfully control my diabetes, it costs approximately $14K just in SUPPLIES (insulin pump + insulin). That doesn't even COVER the doctor's visits (running approx $200/month), plus specialists (I'm currently being seen by a gastrointernist and will be having an endoscopy on Monday).

Could I get by on less? Sure, by giving up good blood sugar control and winding up with horrible complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure, etc, within twenty years.

If I didn't have excellent health insurance (ironically, I have great insurance because, as a teacher, I WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT!) I would be so far in the hole just to be alive that I would have to go live with my parents again. Oh, speaking of my parents -- my mom was also a diabetic. She's had a kidney transplant (my dad donated) and a pancreas transplant. $1.5 MILLION for the surgeries and subsequent visits. The anti-immunity drugs cost around $1K/month without insurance.

Isn't this country founded on "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?" How can you pursue ANYTHING if you're always sick? Someone shouldn't have to die, or live their lives sick, just because their employer doesn't offer insurance, or they're self-employed and can't afford it, or in this economy, they've lost their job. The free-market answer is to let these people die, and that is unacceptable.

Tax me. I'm already down 30% of my paycheck anyway from social security, fica, etc, another couple of percent isn't going to make or break me. And if that money gets some poor kid a round of chemo -- or even a round of antibiotics! -- then I'm happy. (Or, hey, how about we use the "sin tax" -- ie, ciggies and drinks -- to help pay for this? :))
Amandatreehugginhippy on August 11th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
BTW, on rereading, that should read: $14K PER YEAR to control.
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
I assumed the "per year", yeah.

President Theodore Roosevelt in fact made that same argument that you've made--that those in fear of their health cannot pursue those liberties which we are as a nation delineated to offer. That was a hundred years ago. And we're still in the same boat we were then. *sigh*
anthony_lionanthony_lion on August 11th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Here in Norway we have socialised medicine.
(Doesn't cover dental after you're 16year old, though.)

I pay about 33% in taxes.

I haven't needed it, much, but...

My brother was almost blue when he was born in 1969, and needed emergency surgery.

A decade or so ago, my father had a small accident involving a chainsaw and his leg.
(It's a small accident when you can still use the leg)
Then he developed a debilitating nerve disorder, after which he needed handholds mounted in the bath, stairs and a few other places, in addition to a medical alert button.
And finally, he got a double bypass operation.
(he was already retired when the nerve disorder hit, so he didn't have a well-paying job or anything)

Any one of those problems could have ruined my parents if they'd had to pay for it themselves.
Add the fact that on my mother's side of the family, there's a history for something I've only heard called 'family jaundice' and is heritable. (The condition is handled by operating on the spleen), and I'd probably have had a big problem getting a medical insurance in America...
Amandatreehugginhippy on August 11th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I've watched my parents fight with the insurance companies for my entire life, because my mom has ALWAYS been sick. There was a time, about fifteen years ago, that my dad was on the phone for several hours a DAY trying to get my mom what she needed -- and my dad is GOOD at getting what he wants out of people!

It's just.... sad. Sometimes it makes me absolutely LIVID, but sometimes it just makes me excruciatingly sad. We like to think, as a nation, that we're some of the most civilized people in the world... but we're not. We're really not.
irishkateirishkate on August 11th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
. They think it only reasonable that when Ted broke his arm, he paid nothing to have it set and checked up on, and just flat-out can’t grasp that our former housemate Shaun had ended up with, I forget now, eighteen or something thousand dollars in medical bills after *he* broke /his/ arm badly in college.

For real???? Wow - I broke my arm, had surgery twice, spent about 2 weeks total in hospital and had almost a year of physio. Now, I had healthcare - I was working..but in fact I went public for most of it cause it was the same or faster! I don't have any left over bills, in fact I think the only time I referenced a bill was when someone asked me if I had healthcare in the hospital - I didn't sign anything...
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
Yep, for real. Shaun had a bad break, at least one surgery, maybe two, I can't remember, and it's possible his bill went as high as $30K; I can't recall anymore. I know it was at *least* $15K.

See my point?
irishkateirishkate on August 12th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
I do - I really do.

*shocked face*
ext_201832 on August 12th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
I'm Canadian, and I'll be the first to tell you that our health care system is far from perfect. But I can't imagine having to worry that going to a hospital when you're sick might end up putting you into bankruptcy. I'm sure you've seen "Sicko" (Michael Moore), but that was my first real intro to what American health care is like. The idea of being in the position to choose which of your severed fingers you'd have reattached, because you can't afford to reattach both--it's horrifying.

If you ever leave Ireland (can't imagine why you would), come to Canada. We have free health care AND cookies. :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on August 12th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
Talking to Canadians this week, I get the impression they're very attached to their healthcare system indeed, and the papers this week are rather annoyed at the Canadian system being held up to US voters as a horrible example.

(About to board the Canadian to Vancouver, so won't be able to followup till the train gets to Winnipeg.)
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
I'm not sure "fantasy author & chef" are on Canada's short list of things they're looking for in immigrants, but we have frequently discussed Canada as a possible place to live sometime down the road. It's closer to home AND it has health care (and cookies, apparently!). :)
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on August 12th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
That's the trouble, isn't it? If you're young and healthy, then a lot of the time you have to just bet on nothing bad happening...and then someone like your friends have a catastrophic accident, and it drives home just how incredibly *bad* it is to be taking that risk. It's a criminal scenario.
mbranesfmbranesf on August 12th, 2009 01:06 pm (UTC)
Excellent comments. Coincidentally, I posted a similar rant last night centered around a jerk I heard on the radio comparing the health care reform plans to "socialism" a la Nazi Germany ( http://mbranesf.livejournal.com/3632.html ) My partner and I have been through similar stuff with a) just not being able to afford any insurance and b) accumulating huge unpayable bills from going to the emergency room.
reypolyo on August 22nd, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living
Americans with pre-existing conditions need subsidies under any plan, but community rating is a dubious way to bring fairness to health care. The reason is twofold: First, it forces young people, who typically have lower incomes than older workers, to pay far more than their actual cost, and gives older workers, who can afford to pay more, a big discount. The state laws gouging the young are a major reason so many of them have joined the ranks of uninsured.
Low cost medical insurance