The Heath Care Debacle


I watched the Sunday morning news shows like I do a lot of Sunday mornings – This Week, Meet the Press – and the big topic of course is Heath Care. Now I am kind of a politics addict. I watch political TV until it puts me in a rage and often read articles and blogs about politics. I blame the 2008 election for making me a junkie. I also am very liberal and know that my ideas are biased in this direction.

After watching this mornings debates, I feel the need to comment. Mostly because heath insurance is a basic necessity in my life, much like food and housing. My perspective comes from having a chronic illess and also working in mental health with a medicare population.  In my comments I am making one assumption – my experience with heath care is representative of the average person’s. I believe this is true because in most cases I have had average health insurance and my experience aligns with most other people’s stories I have heard.

The main argument I hear against a universal health care plan is the Republicans saying that they don’t want to put the government between the American people and their doctors and they want Americans to have a choice in terms of their health care.  This is the most crazy-making statement I have ever heard. To me, you can only think this if you are privileged enough to be able to afford choice in your health care and have good enough health insurance to not have to deal with that company.  If not, you are like me and have had to take your employee heath care  because no one else will cover your pre-existing condition. I once in my adult life had a health insurance that was not offered by an employer. I was fortunate enough to live in a state, Oregon, that had created a health plan for people who were rejected for health care due to preexisting conditions. I had moved to the state with my husband while he finished his education, and had yet to find a job so this was my only option. It was offered by a private insurance company and I often found my claims were denied because they billed my services wrong. I learned the lesson of heath  care advocacy at that point and that I needed to make sure that my insurance did their job right.  And this is not the only time I had to deal with my health insurance on a regular basis. I have always had HMOs. Granted, that has been my choice, but in every case I’ve dealt with the HMO plan covers my medical services more, which is necessary when you have regular doctor’s visits and expenses. So my health care has never involved just me and my doctor and I think it is disingenuous or completely disconnected from the average American to say otherwise.

The other thing that horrifies me is the Republicans suggesting that a $5000 voucher is the answer to help people afford health care. Recently, Rachel Maddow reported that the average family health care plan costs over $13,000. This is not a difference that can be explained by cost estimates. The only way this kind of voucher would be helpful is if you need minimal coverage, which many of us cannot live with. This same story also dicussed minimum wage increasing recently to $15,000. Is it me or do these figures not work? How can any family living on minimum wage afford heath care? Even if they had two people working, the costs don’t add up.

Finally, beyond my issues with the Republican arguments, my biggest reason for supporting this initiative is that it is our moral responsibility. I worked with many working poor families. I saw them dropped from medicare coverage for making too much money. I saw kids without heath care because their family couldn’t afford to pay for it. And this was a common occurrence, not a rarity. Families shouldn’t have to choose between rent and health care. Families shouldn’t be penalized for working and trying to support their families. For many of these minimum wage families, it would be financially better for them to not work at all. Is that really a system that works?

I just hope that people really stop to think when they hear this debate. Don’t let people scare you out of change. If you like your situation, the administration is working to make sure that is still an option. If you don’t, the goal is to give you more options. I know it is hard to trust our government. They haven’t always shown to be trustworthy. But doing nothing at all, that is a risk we all can’t afford to take.


One Response to “The Heath Care Debacle”

  1. 1 bluwren

    Hi… I’m a new visitor to your blog. Like you, I have RA. I just wanted to say that I agree completely with your take on the health care reform issue. We really need to fix it — the system is broken unless you’re wealthy. Since most of us aren’t, it seems the time has come for change.

    I’ve been unemployed for a couple of years; my health care was through my employer. I couldn’t afford COBRA, and I sure couldn’t afford private insurance. I’m an Air Force veteran, however, so I was able to go to the VA for my healthcare. I’m still being seen by VA docs and a VA rheumatologist — and thank goodness for them. I don’t know what I’d have done without them.

    Veteran’s Administration Health Care is very like what universal health care would look like. I’m pleased with the care I’ve received. I see my rheumatologist once every three months, and I’m currently taking Arava and sulfasalazine. I’m still looking for work, too, but I’m concerned now that once I do find a job with healthcare as a benefit, that I might not be accepted because of the arthritis. I’d hate to lose the good care I’m getting now…

    Anyway, I dearly hope that we can finally reform health care insurance in America so that everyone, regardless of income, age, gender or race can receive comprehensive, competent care. It’s the right thing to do.

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