Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Health Care Discussion
Thanks for joining the discussion yesterday. I was glad to read your comments and I'd like to respond to a couple of them.
Annie, I think there are a few good systems that work fairly well. We're not locked into choosing a whole mediocre health-care plan, but we could pick the best aspects of several, and piece them into the parts of our system that work already. I'm hoping that's what's happening.
Beck, I totally agree that we should have choice. That's why I feel so picked on. I have NO CHOICE!
Insurance companies exempt pre-existing conditions. That means that if you've been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, etc. before you apply for insurance, the company will not sell you a policy that will cover those costs. It's frustrating, because chronic conditions don't go away. People are doomed by them, even when they aren't life-threatening, because they rob you of time and money forevermore. This situation is getting attention as more and more people are losing their health coverage, and trying to buy insurance.
To Anonymous: Your "perspective" here seems judgmental and naive. I hope that, through your wise choices, you never have to experience "hardships you should have considered eventualities so many years ago." Our circumstance has nothing to do with a selfish or irresponsible career choice, as you imply. It has to do with poor health.
In our case, we have always been anxious and able to pay for fair coverage, but we are not a good risk. Because we have "known" health problems, the insurance company decided, "These folks will require expensive medical care, now and in the future. We don't want them in our pool. We want healthy people who have a better chance of staying healthy and therefore won't cost us as much." The agent might sell us a high-cost policy that exempts any benefits for the health problems we already have, but we cannot buy insurance that will actually help us. We do not have that choice.
We know of a young woman had two premature babies. Her doctor tested her blood and found a possible cause, and told her it might be genetic. He suggested her sister (someone we know well) also be tested. It was determined she might carry the same gene. Years later, when the sister applied for maternity insurance, she filled out the requisite questionnaire. One of the questions asked if she, or any of her relatives, had any genetic blood disorders. She checked the yes box, anxious to be totally up-front and honest. She was denied maternity insurance because she might carry a gene that might cause premature labor. The actual test didn't help anybody, and ultimately hurt her. She doesn't live in Canada or England—she lives in the USA, and she has no choice.
In further response to Anonymous: I am certainly not against the development of safer and more effective prescription drugs. It's not an abstract to me. Those very drugs have kept my husband alive for 30 years. Between Dee and I, we spend at least $500 a month on prescription drugs, and we have very common conditions. I feel we are supporting an unfair percentage of drug research when we regularly pay $140 for 30 pills, compared to a $10 co-pay.
Besides being miserable, poor health is expensive. For instance, although insulin is fairly cheap, the tiny little paper test strips a diabetic uses three times a day (to know how much insulin to use) are a dollar a piece= $100 a month. Syringes cost. Regular blood tests to monitor meds cost hundreds of dollars. It's upsetting to know that someone who had health insurance before he got diabetes has help meeting these high prices, and yet we cannot buy that same coverage.
People die of treatable diseases in the USA because they cannot afford their medicine. I think it is shameful that people know this is happening and don't want to help. Anonymous says my ideas (which ones?) and a quote about following Christ's example of caring for the sick "seem like two diametrically opposed positions, and very ironic in today's American outcry for separation of church and state."
Just for the record, I am a believer, and I want to follow Christ's example. I can't separate myself into "church" and "state." I'm suggesting that WE, as Americans, religious or not, Democrats and Republicans, ought to watch out for each other.
Anon said, "Yes, we should be generous and benevolent towards those in need, but why should government have any role in that?" Because I'm part of the government and I don't want a young mother with leukemia to go without treatment because it was a pre-existing condition. I think the choice to buy insurance should be a legal right, open to everyone. And I think the cost of medication should be the same for all of us. That's all. I don't want those of you who have it all to lose a thing. I just think the rest of us deserve the same opportunity.
But since I'm a little riled up, I have to say something else. Anonymous said "Sorry to be posting anonymously, but I really don't want your opinion of me to change because of what I have to say."
My opinion of someone goes up when they stand behind their convictions. I love discussing ideas with friends, even when we disagree. It exercises my mind. I learn from people who are enthusiastic, knowledgeable or experienced in what they're talking about. I have even more fun when we're both passionate about a topic, and don't know what we're talking about.
Keep your identity secret, Anonymous; my opinion of you would change if I found out who you are. I would be disappointed in you, not because of what you said, but because you didn't have the courage to stand up for it. Your confidence will soar when you realize your opinion, no matter what it is, is valuable because it's yours. Others will value it, too. You don't have to be Anonymous.