Dear Blue Cross, Congress, President Obama and the American People (and anyone else who will listen),
I am a frustrated woman this morning. Can any of you do something–anything–to help the 36-46 million Americans who are waking up without health insurance today? Who cannot afford to get sick, go to the doctor, have a necessary operation?
Yesterday one of my good friends, one of the most hard-working women I know, shared the news. Her full-time job no longer exists; she is now without health insurance.
“What will you do?” I asked. Her husband has heart problems which need medical attention.
“Thirteen hundred dollars a month,” she replied. Her eyes stared dully at me. “What else can we do?”
Thirteen hundred dollars a month! For a family that makes between $30,000-40,000 a year? (I’m estimating. Heck it could be a lot less.) How in the world are they going to be able to afford this?
I wanted to weep with the indignity of it, the pain of it.
“At least I still have a part-time job,” my friend said, concentrating on gratitude for her reduced income.
She is one of the “lucky” ones who will somehow scrape together $1,300 per month–for how long?–instead of joining the 36-46 million Americans who have no health insurance.
Barry and I are one of the “lucky” ones, too. We still have Blue Cross insurance, at least for this year. However, our deductible is now $6,000 per year. I have been trying to wrap my mind around losing $6,000 every year we might need a surgery or knee operation or, heaven forbid, one of us gets cancer or has a heart attack or suffers a stroke or contracts a debilitating disease.
Goodbye, retirement. Goodbye, savings. It was nice to know you after a lifetime of working. Goodbye…
But we’re one of the “rich” Americans with our very modest income. We at least have enough in the bank to cover a deductible or two. What about the millions who don’t have enough saved? What about our young people who can’t get jobs with decent health insurance?
Don’t we live in one of the richest countries in the world? Can’t we do something–anything–to help our people? And not just a stop-gap political band-aid that will only ease symptoms rather than dealing with the cause of this terrible crisis.
I must admit I don’t know a lot about President Obama’s health care plan. You read a little bit about it, you listen to other people talk, you try to figure out what it means. But I still feel confused and unenlightened about it. Everyone still seems to be fighting about it. Some say it won’t work; others are cautiously optimist. I am waiting impatiently to see if it will do some good; if it will be a move in the right direction to provide basic care for our populace.
People are always tossing around the term “socialist” to describe national health care. I simply cannot understand the fuss. What is wrong with providing health care for our people? We provide education for our children. Is this not “socialist?” Instead of bantering terms like this–can’t we simply offer our people the basic human right of health care, in the same way we offer education?
I don’t know much about health care systems in other countries, but many folks keep warning, “Well, we don’t want a health care system where you have to wait months and months for basic health care.”
If we truly are one of the greatest countries in the world–let’s find a way to provide health insurance for our people–and do it in a way that our citizens don’t have to wait endlessly for health care. I’m sure we have some bright-minded folks who can devise a national health care plan that works for our people, unlike the broken system which exists today that serves only those fortunate enough to have insurance-paying jobs or wealth.
Thank you for listening to my heartbroken plea this morning. Thank you for figuring out a way to take constructive action. Thank you for caring for all our people today.
The waiting-for-months things is a myth, actually (thankfully).
And we are certainly not one of the greatest countries in the world.
I hear your heartbroken plea, Kathy, and I am there with you.
I would like to see more and more completely OTHER options rising up. Towns that sending students to medical school so that they come back and serve the town as a community doctor, perhaps? Communities that create their own “insurance” for emergencies. Strong action to prevent the diseases caused by pollution, poisonous chemicals, and the poisonous chemical disguised as so much of our food. What other ideas might we come up with?
Kathy, for Canadians this is not a worry. I don’t understand the strange spin some anti-healthcare folks in the U.S. put on public healthcare.
If I want to go to the doctor I go. (no charge) The same goes for hospitalization. No bill.
It’s not perfect. Some people have to wait too long for tests or surgery. But it sure beats a system where only the rich can afford decent healthcare.
We do pay high taxes here — but it’s worth it.
Can’t believe your $6,000 deductible. Here we get dinged for ambulance rides of $125 and folk grip about that !!!
HOWEVER prescription meds for those under 65 aren’t covered you need private insurance for that here too !
My heart goes out to you.
If I were you I’d by lobbying for public health care.
Thanks for bringing up the issue. United Health Care ceo Stephen Helmsly made 102 Million last year. the company itself reported increased profits of 13% over same period last year. Helmsly’s predecessor Wm. Mcguire salary was even more obscene.The firms earnings rose an average of 26% over the last decade. That is just one example of what is wrong. How do they do that? by refusing services to policy holders and increased premiums and deductables. We have a good base for a single payor system, it’s called Medicare. Don’t get me wrong, it is far from perfect and there is much to be improved upon. But in my mind it is inexcusable for the richest country on Earth to not provide basic medical coverage to it’s citizens. Call it socialism if you care to, I prefer to call it looking out for our fellow human beings, afterall isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?
The cost of insurance is ruinous. I don’t know why it has to be associated with employment either. Strip it away from companies, reform it and make it available to everyone. Companies, without the steep healthcare cost, could begin to rehire – all age groups.
We as a nation need to decide if we value healthcare for everyone – all our people equally – right and left, rich and poor, and every race. At this time we do not, I wonder if some politicians expect the disadvantaged to just vaporize…
Where we are at as a nation today is disgusting.
It is unbelievable, isn’t it?!
Maybe people think that it you can’t afford
to pay for getting sick, just don’t get sick??!!
Or maybe….I really don’t care if you get sick
and can’t pay for it…….I can, so there!!!!!
I know. Boy, do I know…
Kathy – You really picked a sore spot for me as well. I had a dear friend who died because she could not afford insurance and developed cancer. Her young daughter would be asking the same questions. If you have not seen Michael Moore’s “Sicko” please go right out and rent it. He compares our medical system with those of other countries and it is shocking in what it reveals. Clearly the power of insurance companies buries the concerns of we regular folks. Maybe if we could be granted the same insurance coverage as our political representatives things would change. Even with medicare and supplemental insurance as well as insurance for medicines I paid out over $9,000 last year in medical expenses. Something has to give and it seems it is always us!
Kathy – I, too, hear — and join — your heartbroken plea.
Health care is one of the MAIN reasons why I’m desperately trying to hold on to my job!! I have two young children (one of them is a little daredevil, an accident waiting to happen), not to mention my illness that requires an injection every other day. There are so many individuals and families in worse situations, we need something better!! I have been so mad at our “healthcare” system for a long time now. I have a very good friend who is from Canada, and she said that one of her families’ last visits there, her husband got very sick and had to go to the hospital. Within 2 HOURS, he was seen by the doctor, treated, and released – and there was NO CHARGE. Now…. what’s wrong here??
Kathy, the United States is broke. People can’t seem to grasp the concept that we are a family who has maxed out our credit cards and right now are making the minimum payments. When interest rates go up I am not sure how we will cope with this. It is not just one party’s fault. It is not one president’s fault. We have been playing the pay you back later game for years with social security and state pensions. Add to that the mortgage debacle and the billions we have been paying out for two wars and we have come to the brink. There are some things I agree with that Obama has done and there are some that I am opposed to, but one man cannot change in a few years what took decades to create.
As far as a guaranteed education, you can see how fast that is hitting the brakes in nearly every school district in the UP and across the country. There are a few places that are awash with money, but they are very few and far between. Medical coverage can’t go the way of education, but it is very likely education will go the way of medical coverage.
WHEW! Medicaid and Medicare are a ready made already in place system. I have noted that MUCH of the issue, is attempting to allow someone not to lose the bilking of citizens forced to pay in a ‘free-market’ system. I spoke with one of my state’s republican offices and mentioned that no one does this about car insurance either, keep a certain amount of money in the bank or have the insurance…his very rude reply was as if i were an idiot! Well, you do NOT HAVE to drive now do you. I could see his logic but wow what a stretch to reason and common sense. There is no reason the health care reform should have been drug out for years with NOTHING working NOW. What a way to frustrate everyone! Scare everyone! Ah, the esteem of being better-than those who do not have ‘good enough’ insurance. YUCK…I have to hurl now. This sort of bicker makes me physically ill. Health care isn’t a status symbol, it’s not a social marker…oh wait, apparently it is. By the way, the same group–if it is safe to group, doesn’t allow people to die and end suffering. I guess they have stock in the facilities and insurance companies. Shrugs. How many billions of dollars did we spend today keeping our troops in SOMEONE ELSE’S COUNTRY. Not officially taking it over, while that same amount of funds would feed and house everyone. But, these other people need ‘help’. ELISA GOES BOOM!
I’m in the UK where we have the NHS (National Health Service) which sometimes works well and sometimes doesn’t work at all. It’s paid for by the tax payer. There are waiting lists for operations like hip replacements but sometimes if it’s an emergency things get done very quickly. And for those who can afford it, there is private health care.
My thought has always been that communities should band together and start their own communal hospitals there in the USA. Could that not be done? Are there any laws that would prevent it? Then perhaps the usual systems could be circumvented.
Oh Kathy, hearing you too. As Canadians living in your country, it is so hard for us to wrap our minds around the whole health care situation here. It makes no sense to us! It feels as if health and well being is considered to be a privelege, not a right. And everyone is being held hostage by fear and misinformation. This is a wealthy and progressive country …. in most ways. There seems to be such a disconnect here.
Just another quick note. If I’m not mistaken, Vermont is seriously looking at instituting a single-pay health care system that is very similar to our Canadian system. The key word here is pay. We do pay, individually, for our system. But it is affordable (at least for now), available and equal for everyone. But that being said, things are changing in our system too…..
I don’t understand why people are so dead set again national health care, or the use of the term “socialism.” As you pointed out, our education system is socialism. Fire, police, roads, and all the other things the various governments provide are a form of socialism. In the end, it’s a label that some people decided sounds terrible. Labels are what get us into trouble, I think.
I am sorry for your friend. I am sorry for all of those without health care. My youngest son and his wife are two of those people who don’t have health care and cannot afford it right now. It worries me that if one of them should get ill or injured, they will either avoid going to see a doctor because they can’t afford it (not that I would let that happen if I knew about it!) or they will end up in worse financial shape than they are already in if it’s something they can’t ignore.
I like Val’s idea. 🙂
I haven’t read all the comments, but I do know that when I was being interviewed by a Canadian TV station they sent a reporter and a camera guy. We talked afterwards about their health plan..and they said the whole waiting months to see a doctor was totally a myth. Just saying.
Kathy I don’t know how much I can add to this conversation. I tend to agree with John where he comments that “the United States is broke.”(10)Though the Feds keep printing money it really doesn’t appear to be backed by anything. Secondly, Canada is no longer as socialist as we might like to think with its right-wing majority government. I worry, often, that our national health care will be whittled away piece by privatization piece.
A $6,000 deductible Kathy!? And 36-46 million Americans with no health insurance at all… and what was that about CEO salaries and profit increases?
I would like to think that the U.S. health care system is moving more towards what we have in Canada. But what is more likely to happen is Canada will begin to move more closely to a privatized health care system like the United States.
It is almost like the whole social welfare system (meaning humans that care)is broken. We must start small and build again. Sometimes bigger isn’t better. Can people pay into a community health care fund to cover deductibles? How big a community pot would it take to cover basic health care? I am feeling that it may be a good idea to bring food and basic goods to the local healer if this keeps up.
By the way, as of now I have not experienced any wait list when needed surgery in Canada. I got in as fast as I could get my life organized to make it happen. Our hospitals are a bit dirtier than they used to be and it is helpful to have a friend or family member to assist with your care as there is less nursing staff. But other than that, things seem to be still working. There is that one bill for the ambulance service and parking and if you want a TV in your room you pay for that. I am not complaining. I am grateful. I wish there was a way we could make it so others had the same.
Thanks for holding a space for that to happen Kathy.
Blue Cross / Blue Shield execs make a huge amount of money, and it is supposed to be a non-profit. They also blow a huge amount of money on advertising. Come on, it is not supposed to be a business. Zero the ad budget out.
A lot would be solved by removing state barriers for competition. These are unnecessary regulations that serve to protect monopolies. Competition would improve service and cost.
And yes, I favor more choices. Complete government control would take that way, as it would be a monopoly.
“We talked afterwards about their health plan..and they said the whole waiting months to see a doctor was totally a myth. Just saying.”
I have a Canadian friend who has horror stories. She lives in the US border with Vancouver, and is happy to live so close to the US so she can get health care. She has a special needs daighter, and such are really screwed by the health care monopoly there. If there’s a monopoly in your nation, the only way to escape it is to go outside of your country.
Thank you ALL for your thoughtful comments. Thank you for your convictions. I pray that the energy of our desire for change will manifest in the world. I pray that my friend–and all other citizens of our country–will someday have health insurance. That is my constant fervent prayer.
Until we stop thinking that the problem is “lack of insurance” we will never solve the problem of lack of access to health care. Until we start seeing itemized prices in physician and hospital and pharmaceutical ads, and posted on waiting room walls, there can be no true “competitive marketplace.” We go out of our way to save a nickel on a gallon of gas, but when was the last time you compared notes with someone about what you were paying at the health care “pump”? We support the high cost of health care with our tax dollars, our health insurance premiums, and our fear. It’s a hard problem, and no one is seriously trying to solve it politically. Maybe Vermont can succeed. It’s a small, contrary place that generally doesn’t put up with a lot of nonsense.
Obamas healthcare plan was passed and so everyones deductable increases significantly. And, if his party likes you, or you donate, then you get to opt OUT. The value of the dollar is decreasing, gold goes up, we print more worthless money. Gas is up. Food costs are up. My salary is down, my house is worth 1/2 of what I bought it for. Sorry, not a fan of this socialism. I’ll take my chances and be responsibible for my own healthcare, would rather not leave it up to a govt. that mucks everything up.
Thank you, Gerry! Itemized estimates and bills would force providers of basic care–and maybe fancier stuff–to be up-front about their costs and give us a way to compare. Why should it cost $125, for instance, to be seen by an E.R. doctor who looks at your hand for 30 seconds and says no, you don’t need rabies shots? Run that cost out to an hourly rate, and the result is staggering and indefensible.
If costs could be brought down, a single-payer system wouldn’t be so far out of reach. Interesting that all the Canadian readers are happy with their system and don’t see how we live without it. That’s what I hear from Canadians I meet in Northport, too. I’m sure there are exceptions. No system of anything is perfect. Private care would remain an option, as it does around the world. In our lifetime? That’s hard to say.
Health care. An oozing sore. My husband spent a week in the hospital because of a bleeding ulcer a couple of years before he qualified for medicare. Over $20,000. I spent a weekend in the hospital. Tests. No surgery. Over $6,000. No insurance because it didn’t fit in the limited budget. Guess we didn’t need that much in savings anyway. It’s sad that I’m grateful my cancer waited until I was on Medicare and that his also waited till he was on. I’m grateful we live in an area where the doctors and hospitals accept Medicare. We’re too busy protecting the wealthy to take care of those who are not.
I agree with you, health care should be a given right to the citizen’s of our country. Education is. The health and well being of the people that live here should be the number one priority. When I hear stories about people like your friends, it makes me sick to think of the billions of dollars given away to other countries when we have so many people in need here.
I am watching everything my parents worked a life time for, disappear in the blink of an eye … to pay for medical care. It will take everything they own, the entire farm (paid in full years ago) a piece at a time (if they can find someone to buy it) or all at once when the State takes it away … and that will only last a little while. They are going without everything just to pay for a rehab/nursing home room. If you get sick in this country, everything you have is taken away to pay for it. It is sad … and definitely not right. Something has to change.
“If costs could be brought down, a single-payer system wouldn’t be so far out of reach.”
I want this forever out of reach. We need many payers, many choices. Not a monopoly, not ‘one size fits few’
Single-payer health care makes as much sense as getting rid of all alternative bookstores and requiring people to get books their books at Walmart.
There is also a good point to be made about the cost of frivolous lawsuits and how it drives up healthcare costs, both through insurance payments by doctors, and doctors being encouraged to do unnecessary things to avoid frivolous lawsuits.
Remember former Presidential candidate Jon Edwards. He made himself rich by lying in the courtroom in order to win baseless lawsuits. Among his most notorious victories were making OB-GYN doctors pay parents because the children had genetic birth defects. Think about it. In a more just world, suits like this would never happen and men like Edwards would be in prison for attempting them.
Dancing backwards and jumping with both feet into the puddle of mud named blame behind me!! Painting stick figures onto my face to give life and personification to the blame.
Thank you all for sharing your own opinions. The reason I can’t–really–be a politician is that I am not interested in debating. Everyone has their opinions which contain valuable insights. There is no easy answer. I agree with some of what many of you have shared; I disagree with some others, but who am I to say? My heart stays close to the suffering of individuals and all I want to do is alleviate it. Thank you again sincerely for sharing your heart-felt opinions.
Great post, Kathy! I’m in Canada as well.I live in poverty due to illness (haven’t found a way to be ill and make lots of money at the same time yet) and I just cannot imagine not being able to go to the doctor for check ups or for monitoring while on prescription drugs. Even the prescriptions which cost $1,600 per month are covered. I hope something makes sense to the powers that be soon. It is such a tricky situation.
I am so glad you have health care for your illness, Marianne. I can’t imagine how people who need expensive prescriptions make it. My friend’s mother needs a prescription that costs about $1,600 a year. They can’t afford it. It breaks my heart to see them suffering. But I agree–it is a tricky and confusing situation with no easy answers.