Friday, August 7, 2009

Health Care

I have very good health coverage. I'm on FB's plan at his very solid job and am double-insured by my university, which allows me free, unlimited doctor's visits at the on-campus clinic. Also, we have some savings, so we could afford minor medical care even if our insurance fell through.

I am very lucky.

Most Americans are not nearly as fortunate as I am. Everyone in this country (including me) knows someone who has been shat upon by an insurance company. My complaints have been minor — my old insurance would only pay for birth control if I picked up the Pill at their pharmacy, one goddamn month at a time, their customer service reps were completely unable to deal with changes of name and address, they diagnosed FB with pneumonia by sending him a snail mail letter nearly a month after performing the tests, etc.

Other people have bigger problems. Some get their claims denied outright. Some die as a result.

But most people who get suffer at the hands of insurance companies aren't murdered — they're robbed. Take Sarah Wildman, who purchased maternity insurance, only to get stuck with a bill for $22,000 after the plan that promised to cover pre-natal care, delivery, and post-natal care covered none of those things. As a self-employed writer (some would say entrepreneur), she was not protected by the regulations governing employer-based insurance. Luckily, she was protected by having a soapbox from which she could tell a few million readers about the bandits at Blue Cross.

The point is that health care in America is broken. You may not like the Obama reform bill, but the cost of doing nothing is too high. What alternative have the Republicans offered? The status quo is not good enough.

I get so angry when I see things like this:
Conservative economist Arthur Laffer went on CNN today and said,
If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they’re run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.
A few points:
  • WTF is your problem with the Post Office? For less than the cost of a pack of gum, I can send a letter anywhere in the United States. All I have to do is lick a stamp and put the envelope in the mail slot 10 steps from my front door. There's a fairly compelling argument to be made that American democracy could never have flourished without the efficiency of the USPS, so lay off.
  • Waiting in line at the DMV sucks — it's the worst system, except for all the others. FB's mentor is an immigrant from India and he has repeatedly professed his undying love for the DMV. In the US, everybody waits in the same line and fills out the same form and, if you pass the tests and pay the very reasonable fees, you get the ID or license you wanted. In India, you have to know someone who knows someone and pay exorbitant bribes just to get a chance to bribe someone who might give you a license if he's feeling charitable. The DMV is a drag, but it's democratic.
  • Medicare and Medicaid are already run by the government. Since I am unwilling to believe that Laffer doesn't already know that, I can only conclude that he is trying to muddle the issue in the minds of the elderly.
  • If you're going to moan and complain about the government mismanaging everything it touches, intellectual honesty demands that you go on CNN and tell everyone just how shitty the military is.
The current state of health care in America is unsustainable. We can have honest debates about the type of reform we want, but the need for reform is indisputable. People who are screaming bloody murder about fascism and euthanasia need to take a good hard look at their own motives.

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