Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Health Care Hunkered

Alright. Now I'm mad.

What do I do when I'm mad? Why, I blog, of course.

The Health Care crisis in America has long been a hot button issue for me. I've been an advocate for socialized medicine for years. I realize it's not a perfect system, but nothing is.

So I've sorta kinda had a piece about it on the backburner for a while. But I never really dug in and tackled all facets of what is, ultimately, a very complex issue. It hurts my brain to think about it. Health Care reform is a huge undertaking. Gargantuan. Herculean.

But now it has come to bear in a very personal way and I find myself angry all over again. And feeling very helpless, hopeless and scared.

Recently, Husband's company changed hands, and with it, our health insurance. Our benefits under the old company had gradually become less and less comprehensive, while our premiums, and our co-pays, of course, increased. But, I was ludicrously grateful, because they would cover 12 visits with a mental health practitioner per calendar year. Because obviously anybody who needs more than that is just being melodramatic.

While his boss shopped, we had an entire month where we had no insurance coverage. We did not pay for Cobra, as all but the most dire illness and/or accident would have cost less out of pocket than the premium for a family of four.

When he finally chose a carrier and our benefits were restored, the first thing I did was to check to see if all our family health care providers were included in their provider directory. Our family pracitioner was on their list. The boys' therapists and the ADHD specialist that had been recommended for Diminutive One were not. Nor was the Orthodontist or the Dentist.

Diminutive One's therapist graciously agreed to obtain a provider exception on the basis of continuity of care. She did this despite her misgivings about this carrier; misgivings based on professional experience in the past. She then jumped through hoop, after hoop, after hoop on Diminutive One's behalf. It was enormously frustrating. Calls were not returned. Erroneous information was given. She was passed off from one person to the next, none of whom seemed to know what the hell they were talking about.

It was then that I began to be really afraid.

She is still tryinig to gain the exception, and Diminutive One has not seen his doctor for 3 weeks. We can only afford one visit per month out of pocket. The results are showing. She was a calming influence on all of us. We need her.

Today I went to pick up a refill on Pre Pubescent One's Strattera. Our old copay was $45. I thought that was bad. Now, it's $60. AND...they will only cover one pill per day, per month. He has been prescribed a twice daily dose, and that is what he has been taking for three years. Now, some insurance yahoo, who has never met my child or reviewed his medical records, has decided that he only needs one pill a day. Because that's "standard". I could perhaps save some money on doctor's visits and just consult them directly regarding our health issues.

Of course, I can obtain 30 more pills at my own expense. For $150. Yes. That's a combined monthly total of $210.

To say that I was livid would have been a massive understatement.

I cannot obtain a generic equivalent. Some ADD/ADHD meds do have generics available, but Strattera is a fairly new drug. And because a drug must be on the market for fifteen years before generic producers can challenge the patent, it will be quite some time before one is available for us. Sometimes the big drug companies pay these producers to drop their challenges. They make it worth their while. Everybody benefits. Except the poor bastards that need the medicine.

And here's where a large part of the problem lies.

Capitalism and health care do not make good bedfellows. In fact, I think it's a gross and egregious conflict of interest. When profit margins become more important than people, the quality of care is always compromised. When we take medical decisions out of the hands of doctors, and put it into the hands of actuaries and accountants, we are pandering to a bottom line rather than a patient's needs.

That's a failure of the system in every conceivable way.

Unless you're looking at it from the perspective of the insurance and drug companies, in which case, everything is coming up roses.

I have two children seeing mental health professionals for attention deficit disorders. My youngest also has anxiety issues. Right now, I have one child on medication, but soon it will be two. The combined costs of prescriptions and therapy will quickly become too much for us to handle on one income.

Despite the fact that my husband makes a very good living (good enough that we do not qualify for any government subsidized assistance for health care costs) I anticipate having to go back to work to make sure my kids have what they need to be healthy, happy, productive.

That's wrong. Not just for me, but for everybody. And the really crappy thing is...we are one of the lucky ones. My children don't need this medicine to live. And I have resources. I can and will get what they need.

But people in America are going into debt to pay for prescription drugs. They are going into debt to pay for diagnostic tests. They are getting second jobs and second mortgages to manage the cost of chronic but treatable diseases such as Diabetes, Epilepsy, and IBS. People are not seeking treatment for mental health issues because those services are not covered and the expense is astronomic.

Why are we allowing this to happen?!?! Why is the issue of health care reform not at the top of every candidates political platform? Why do let our health and that of our families play second fiddle to the almighty dollar? And why are we allowing the drug companies to form monopolies on drugs that our children, our grandparents, our friends and neighbors and the mailman NEED to maintain their quality of life; sometimes, to sustain life itself?

The pharmacists, who is also the proprieter of the small independant drugstore where we buy our meds, was, bless his heart, completely outraged on my behalf, and the behalf of all his customers. I asked him if he had much experience with our new carrier, and if so, were they particularly bad.

"They're all CROOKS!" he thundered. "Every last one of 'em! I don't even know why I stay in this business. I'm just putting more money in their damned pockets!"

He looked me straight in the eye and said "I'm sorry sweetheart. If I could, I'd give you the damned things for free and screw the insurance!"

"I know. I know you would. But you can't afford that either."

He shook his head sadly..."No. No I can't."

We left in posession of 30 pills. Two weeks' worth of medicine for Pre-Pubescent One. I don't know what we'll do when they're gone. We do not qualify for any assistance.

I hear the Cheetah III is hiring. I wonder if there's a niche for slightly older women with lots of personality and plenty of....back. Yo.

Well, that might solve my problem, but what about the greater issue? We have to do something. We have to make health care reform a priority. If we don't, it's only going to get worse, and pretty soon, we'll be back to the days when only rich people can afford medicine, and the rest of us have to rely on folk remedies, mustard plasters and leeches.

Write your congressman, your governor, your state insurance commissioner...hell, even your president. We've got to start somewhere.

Here are a few link that I found interesting, helpful and sort of heartening. There are people who are trying. We just have to try harder. And bigger. We have to combine our voices and make ourselves heard.

American Health Care Reform

Baby Boomers Revolt

Alliance For Health Care Reform

Health Politics with Dr. Mike Magee


Footnote: "Hunkered" is a Southern colloquialism that means sick, or weak, or ailing in some way. Can also mean beaten down, depressed or sad.

17 Comments:

  • At 12:37 AM, Blogger Christine said…

    I agree with you in so many ways...especially this:

    "When we take medical decisions out of the hands of doctors, and put it into the hands of actuaries and accountants, we are pandering to a bottom line rather than a patient's needs."

    Which is why I believe that socialized medicine is also not the answer. It's simply a *different* third party deciding who gets treated and how. And the government will take their (not fair) share just as the insurance companies presently do.

    Back in the day when it was the doctor-patient relationship was sacred, when a person could pay their physician with chicken eggs or trade for a haircut without some third party intervening telling the patient what doctor to whom they could go and telling the doctor how long they could spend with the patient...that was the heyday of medicine.

    Anyway, the system is horribly broken ~ on that we certainly agree. And I am so sorry you are dealing with this crap. I wish I had an answer for you.

     
  • At 1:07 AM, Blogger Tracysan said…

    Wait?! You mean our government is screwing the middle class? I am shocked, SHOCKED! I am so sorry that you have become a victim of our national corruption, but seriously, I have ceased to be shocked by anything anymore. I cannot believe what the American people let our government (and this administration in particular) get away with.

     
  • At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Ortizzle said…

    One of my biggest regrets when I relocated to the U.S. after 25 years of socialized medicine was... the health care system in this country. It is beyond shocking. And we think we are a model for the rest of the world? I can't wait to see Michael Moore's latest movie, Sicko.

    I hope you don't have to go back to work to pay for your children's meds!

     
  • At 7:30 AM, Blogger Simon said…

    I understand and agree with you entirely. I am fortunate, I live in New Zealand where most, but not all, drugs are covered by the social health system. I even had a rant on much the same subject a while ago.

    It has always surprised me that a nation like the USA doesn't provide an effective social health system.

    I seem to remember reading that the profit margin on some drugs is measured in the thousands of percent. Which, to my mind, is usury. The loan is your health and the interest is the enormous amount you pay for drugs etc. Or even blackmail. Pay us exorbitant amounts of money for your drugs or you'll get very ill and maybe die. Isn't that illegal?

    What was that? Drug companies contribute lots of money to the political parties? Really? Well I never, that does surprise me.

     
  • At 7:49 AM, Blogger Student of Life said…

    I couldn't agree with you more. My husband works for an international company (based in a nation that has socialized medicine), so we have had to get private health insurance. That means our premiums are outrageous (they went up again this year), and the insurance company refuses to pay for so many things we need. Some very minor examples that cost us majorly over time: birth control, maternity expenses (so they're off-the-hook either way), and allergy medicines. It's disgusting.

     
  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger deb said…

    I don't understand why Americans put up with a government that allows this to happen. That's not to say Canadians have a perfect system, far from it. Wait times are awful here, but everyone has access to health care here, nobody can't have it, nobody can't afford it, because if you can't afford, it's free.
    Canadians do pay premiums, a family of four pays around $1200/year, which probably isn't much compared to the American system.
    Drugs are less expensive here as well. Why I don't know.
    Americans should rise up and demand a one payer system, where health care insurance is a not for profit industry.

     
  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger Wendy said…

    The only way to solve this problem and most problems we have is to make Congress live and deal with these issues themselves. They and their families recieve medical benefits for the rest of their lives, not just for their term. And they never have to deal with these problems. Not only do we have to pay for our own medical care, but we have to pay for their too.

    This will never happen, because like their pay raises, Congress must vote on it. They ain't voting for anything that will make their lives a little more like the average American.

     
  • At 1:35 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    Email me, as I have a short term solution for you. I promise, I do.

    margalitc@yahoo.com

     
  • At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    Speaking as one who is uninsurable, I cannot disagree with a lot of what you are saying -- I've been where you are and it's maddening and frightening. However, if you were in a socialized medical system, your son would probably still be waiting in line to see a doctor. Our system is far from perfect, but I still think it's better.

     
  • At 12:01 AM, Blogger jen said…

    oh, friend. i know.

    i know. countless families over the years in similar situations, all completely tortured because of what?

    capitalism.

    it's disgusting. i am so sorry. i am just so sorry.

     
  • At 12:24 PM, Blogger Her Bad Mother said…

    Or, defect to Canada.

     
  • At 8:47 AM, Blogger jchevais said…

    The French are nice to Americans... I swear to god the French don't think that Americans are losers, no matter what Americans have been told...

    Also, there was an article I read today that might be of interest to you... outta Newsweek...

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18882855/site/newsweek/

     
  • At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    I wish I had answers, too, but like so many others, I don't. But I can write. I will click through those links, and I will join the fight.

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Natalie said…

    I completely agree with you. My prescriptions seem to go up bi-monthly for reasons unknown to me. I'll cal the insurance provider and they'll give me some crazy answer that makes no sense. I truly hope our next president can actually do something about health care.

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Sandy said…

    While something needs to change in the insurance arena, I'm not sure social medicine is the way to go. I'm not to pleased with how the government wants to already intervene in my private affairs and keep a nanny state. Allowing for socialized medicine would allow for greater government intervention (or non-intervention in some cases) when it isn't necessary.

     
  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    You've got it. In more ways than one. I hope you are able to find some way out of the muck that is our sorry excuse for a health system.

    I am exposed to the stresses of the system through my husband's work (as well as our own battles with medication coverage). Just recently he voted with fellow doctors to ban pharmaceutical lunches and perks that doctors and nurses are regularly given. The ban passed, but by a narrow margin.

    A little ethical victory. Now if only we could kick the insurance companies out of the hospitals as well...

     
  • At 12:06 AM, Blogger Six Green Zebras said…

    Oh I hear ya, loud and clear. As we head in to WEDNESDAY and still no thumbs up from the ins. company for my mom...I hear ya.

    Cha-Ching (my poor attempt at the money clinging sound, LOL)

     

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