Saturday, August 8, 2009

Healthcare in the USA

Let me tell you about a defining moment in my life.

A few years ago, I worked generating leads for a small health insurance brokerage. The pay was good, I was decent, and I liked doing it. So I decided to get my license and sell insurance.

I was cold calling people one day, talking to farmers and small businesses in southern Missouri when I called a man named Jim. Jim was a farmer, he had two kids, and his family had owned that land for something like two hundred and fifty years. That might be an exaggeration, but it seriously was a crazy number like that. Well, crazy for America, at least. Anyways, Jim had an eight year old son who had cancer. Luckily, Jim had health insurance and always paid his premiums, and Jim's son's life was saved. And they all lived happily ever after.

Well, that's how it should have gone.

Instead, Jim's insurance company, who he'd been insured through for twenty seven years, denied the son's cancer treatments, calling them experimental. So, Jim was actively looking to sell his farm to treat his son. They took up a collection at a local church and had some other fundraisers, but it wasn't enough. Cancer treatments are pricey. They were also fighting the insurance company, but they didn't have much hope of getting anywhere, and they feared it would take too long anyway.

Jim's son did get treatment, after he sold his farm and collected more money, but by then it was too late. He died.

When you live in a country like America, with wealth and riches and groundbreaking advances in medicine, you don't expect to hear something like that. You don't expect the reality of the fact that to insurance companies, you are an investment, and they don't want you if you're a bad one. You don't expect that someone would aid in keeping a kid from getting healthy, from seeing their ninth damn birthday, just because of the almighty dollar. That all happens somewhere else, right?


No. It happens here, way more often than you'd ever, ever imagine. It happens primarily to self insured people who run small businesses and farm, who are supposed the backbone of the nation. And in case you don't care about them, there's also the estimated 45 million Americans who have no insurance at all.

45 MILLION. That's an insane amount of people.

Also, let's take a look at the World Health Organization's ranking of the worlds health. Numbers go best to worst. In the interest of fairness, this was done in 2000. However, not much has improved since then.

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America
38 Slovenia
39 Cuba
40 Brunei

This is why I believe that we need a government plan of action. President Obama's is explained here, here, and here.

Here's what I like about Obama's plan:
*Offers coverage to all
*Allows private insurance to compete (private insurance, though riddled with corruption currently, is a field that many people are employed through or by. Plus, some people are going to balk at anything involving health insurance and the government, and, hey...they aren't forced into anything. Good call. I also think the competition will help keep private insurance playing fair. They have to do better to hope to compete.)
*I like the idea of funding primarily from repealing tax cuts to the wealthy. The idea is great. But I'm pretty sure it, like everything else, won't be as crystal clear cut as all that.
*I LOVE that you couldn't be denied for a preexisting condition or assigned nine million riders on things. Right now, for me to get private insurance, it'd be about $90/month. I'm 27, non-smoking, 5'9" and 138 pounds, and in good health. That's with a $5000 deductible. Also, did I mention it wouldn't cover anything involving maternity, asthma, or anything related to migraines, since I've suffered them in the past, or anything involving the area where my C-section was? So I'd be paying for, well, not a whole lot. If I wasn't totally denied coverage based on the aforementioned health concerns.

What I don't like:
*It doesn't appear to be addressing medical malpractice. Medical malpractice insurance is RIDICULOUS and a large part of the reason that bills are also ridiculous.
*I'm not sure I really have heard much about the funding besides cutting unnecessary programs and repealing tax cuts. I'd like more information, please.
*I'm very against the idea of mandating that you must have insurance. I'd understand for kids, but I'm conflicted on the rest. I can see how it's better...people being uninsured is a huge issue that makes up another chunk of why we pay so much for health care. But I also think that we have choices, and if you're so against insuring your own health...well, that's you. Obama first said he wouldn't mandate it, but implied later that he wouldn't rule it out.

I don't have all of the answers concerning health care. I think Obama's on the right track, but, like I said, improvements could happen. I also think we need to be given a more realistic, less rose colored glasses view of things. But America doesn't, as a whole, like to hear the whole story. As country, we seem to only listen to a small portion of a plan, generally manipulated by some source (ie, Obama's plan is socialized health care) and then embellish and repeat it, over and over. Until we start, as a country, becoming more interested and less apathetic towards all things political, there's not much chance of us ever easily getting the whole story, though.


Atina said...

Part of my issue with national healthcare is it seems rather 1984ish. Some people are just more equal than others. Also talk to a veteran about how fantabulous their health care gets, and the wait time, and approval (for damages given to them in combat) and they will tell you it is great that it is an option, but that the private insurance is better. I fully feel that medicare and medicaid should be expanded. Children should be covered. The issue is not insurance, it is the medical industry as a whole that needs and issue. I just don't want the government telling me what I have to do. Work on the homeless issue way before you try to fix things that are currently working.
As far as the wealthy paying less than their fair share, please see a link I'm gonna email you (cause it won't let me but it here) I'll also post on my blog.
And the dumb ass quotes by people. Just bugs me that W was called a moron for his quotes (granted he is a moron, but not just for his stupid statements) yet NO ONE mentions Obamas. Granted I screw up EVERY day when I speak at least 4 million times. So I get that, just the media kills me.

-Jenna- said...

Great post Star!!!

Star said...

Atina -

The healthcare thing isn't really at all a universal type, like Canada's or England's, though. I think of it more like this: you know how your work can get a group plan? And that plan, while backed by your employer, is implemented through, say, Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare? It's more like the government is saying, "Ok, we're going to make a huge ass group plan available to the people who are uninsured. Since an employer isn't stepping in to do that for so many, we're going to act as employer for them." Does that make more sense? So instead of the healthcare being the government' Medicaid/Medicare...the government is simply acting as a conductor for an uninsured citizen to get insured without riders or turn downs. See what I mean?

As far as the dumb quotes, I get your point, but I think things like that, and the birth certificate thing, and all that crap, are dumb. I thought the same when they were bashing Bush (who is a complete moron, for way more reasons than his inability o form a coherent sentence) or Kerry or Gore, or McCain. Although I enjoyed any and all Palin bashing, because she sucks. Hard. The point is, why aren't we (and the media) focusing on the important things? Like why Bush led us al to believe the Iraq war had to do with 9/11? Or why Obama and Congress originally bailed out companies without making clear cut consequences for the misuse of that money? Those are bigger things, things we should care about, you know? Whyd we focus on Clinton getting a blow job before anything else he was doing? Jesus, we just focus on such dumb shit, because that's what the media prints, because that's all people want to give a shit about. (Note that that rant wasn't directed towards you at all. I def don't think you're the kind of person who bases an opinion solely on those things, or is uneducated about the rest and I agree that the media coddles Obama a bit.)

And I do think more needs to be done to end rising costs in the medical field. But it's such a mess it's hard to know where to start. Do we cap medical malpractice suits? Well, that's great, but what about for the people who have had really heinous things done to them from malpractice? How can we cap that? Do we force people to get some kind of insurance so that we're not paying increased bills to cover non-payments? Is that too much government interference? We *should* be educating people to question their doctors and demand that they know why they're getting that expensive test and whether or not they need the brand name drug, but, realistically, how many people will assert themselves like that? I would, you would, but many people won't.

Atina said...

I'm pretty laid back when it comes to my doctors, which I see like twice a year max (okay more now since I'm pregnant). Because I don't run to the flippin' doctor as much as mainstream folks do. I don't believe that antibiotics will cure everything. Well, wait fuck, they did then we over demanded and over used the damn things and they don't work.

I think I can pin point the issue with Americans almost as a whole. The average person doesn't use their brain to establish what the fuck is going on. We team up with our lawyers when anything happens, we are more self-centered and selfish. If everyone took two steps back, and thought about the person to the right of them, a lot would be different. Then again I'm a naive ass who wouldn't know what to do if I didn't read about some lawsuit in the news.

I think the media has gone to shit in the last 10 years. It pretty much started with the blow job (which I could care less about, Go Bill for getting some head, while reading some memos. Go Multitasking!). And I think it is sad that most Americans don't have some where to go for information. I have to read 3 to 4 news articles to put together what probably is ACTUALLY happening.

Our current government was NOT established to take care of everyone. No offense, and please don't take it as such. I don't WANT to pay more taxes to pay for someone's insurance. I would have less issue with say you who are actively working a full time job, but I don't want to pay for someone who just won't commit (ie grow up) and be willing to get a job. I don't think it is your job to provide for me. Help out maybe, that's why we have charitable things (say Good Will, where your thrifty shopping skills generate money that is kicked back). But I don't think you want to be paying my kids way through school. Uncle Sam already takes more of my check that I would like.

Damn it I'm at it again. See what you do to me... get someone who's willing to let me rant and fuck sake... I gotta stop.

Star said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said.

The system with unemployed and everything now is set up for you to stay on it. As an example, if I'm totally unemployed, I can get food stamps, or TANF, or Medicaid, or whatever. If I start working, the insurance goes instantly, the TANF does too, the food stams are pushed way down. Which is fine, that's how it shoud be, but if you're working hard and struggling, I can see how unfair it seems that people who don't can basically get whatever they want. KWIM? The system doesn't reward you for trying to get off of aid, it almost pushes you towards it. And that's sickening. In another example, when I was a SAHM and Mike and I split, I went to see if I could get anything temporarily, because Mike and I weren't on the best terms yet and he was also between jobs and couldn't really hep me much monetarily. So they gave Rhi and I Healthcare USA (state insurance.) The second I got my job, they dropped mine. Because, at minimum wage, I made too much. Now, I thought that was kind of silly. I would have happily paid in a premium every month to stay on it, and had more co-pays, etc., but that doesn't happen. And I think something like that, where people do pay an amount, even a large one, based on their health conditions and what they make, could work. It would take work, and probably several adjustments, but you would also HAVE to contribute, it wouldn't be a government free ride, which isn't at all sensible.

I'm a huge proponent of personal responsibility, which I agree is lost in this country many times. Of course coffee is hot, you don't get to sue over it! And remember the people who were on the plane, and the bird messed up the engine, and it landed in the bay? Yeah, a few of them went to attorneys the next day. Bitch, you LIVED. It was an act of God, and thanks to the pilot thinking clearly and being awesome, you didn't die. Isn't that kind of amazing enough? Do you also need millions? That kind of attitude, that entitlement, is really, really detrimental.

Wow, that was all a bunch of random tangents.

I concur wholeheartedly on the media thing.

I don't want the government to take care of me, but I would have rather we spent the acres of money that we blew in Iraq on people HERE, you know? Afghanistan was one thing, they were acually involved with 9/11. Iraq wasn't. And the WMD? Not so much there. Now we have a ripped apart country that we've spent so much on that we STILL have to put back together. Because we can't just go, "Ok, we're done, bye!" now. We interferred, so we have to put Humpty Dumpty back together. (I hate when peope say we need to instantly pull out of there, because that's no longer an option. We have responsibilty. To not see that is to miss the forest for the trees. /mini rant)

This is Star, btw. I forgot to sign in. Balls.

Star said...

And then it let me sign in, so I look like an ass now. Go me!

The multitasking blow job thing actually made me lol, Atina. While I do think people should be faithful to their wives, I thought it was pretty stupid that we cared then. How many Presidents have affairs? A lot. So do a lot of actual people. But my rant about infidelity wil come later, lol.