Maddog’s Rant

My response to yesterday’s facebook post by an acquaintance from college.
Mark,

I have no desire to argue with you, mostly because you seem to be unable to argue without getting personal and taking an attack stance.  If you want to have a real conversation about any of the subjects that you go on about, then you can’t tell the people you are talking to, to “SHUT UP.”  It in no way promotes discourse and I’d be willing to bet that most people tune you out as soon as you start to speak.  And in the words of one of my favorite undergrad professor’s, Dr X. (this was a religion professor who comments on Marks profile all the time and it’s the only thing I remember from his class), if you want to argue a point you have to know both side of the argument.

You speak as though you doubt the outbreak of swine flu is real.  I have a hard time believing that this is some publicity stunt dreamed up to help help our role in the world.  Nor do I think the media is overplaying the “terribleness” of this outbreak.   I do know there are 1,000’s of people who die each year in the US from “the flu” and they have access to the healthcare you are describing.

You are right.  I do not work in healthcare, in any shape or form.  What I am though is a consumer of healthcare in the US and I know first hand how it affects me.   I also know how it affects my friends and family.  I also have enough friends in the healthcare industry to know the system we currently have in place is not working.  It doesn’t work for me and it doesn’t work for most everyone else I know.

I will admit there are problems with the Canadian healthcare system.  NO ONE and I repeat NO ONE will argue that it’s perfect.  Nor do I necessarily believe that the model used in Canada would be best for us.  I also think you should probably put your Natasha Richardson examples to bed.  They are in poor taste and in no way really prove your point.  There is no proof that she would have been any better off if she’d hit her head in New York than she would have been in Canada.  People die everyday in the US from completely curable diseases because they don’t have the access to the cures.   For every example you have of how bad the Canadian healthcare system is, I can show you two, for how bad our own healthcare system is.

Healthcare is a right not a privilege?  Do you really believe that?  Truly.  I can’t even fathom such as statement.  What you are proposing is that because someone is luckier to be born into a wealthy family his or her life is somehow more valued.  I also know that I’ve never heard anyone who doesn’t have health insurance make this kind of statement.  It’s very easy for those who “have” to sit around and propose the “have not’s” be made to do without.

You say, “The government does not owe you healthcare or education. The rich are not here for the government to rape and pillage to give to those who refuse to work.”  What I am curious about is who exactly is supposed to pay for this?  Do you really think I’m only entitled to an education if I can afford to pay for it myself?  I have a hard time believing that you think we should fold our public school system and moving to a “private” model.  I can tell you that I’d be digging ditches somewhere if that were the case because my family could have never afforded to send me to school.  As for refusing to work…I have a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree and I’ve worked full time to obtain all three.  The only way I could afford to go to college was thanks to the generous grants and loans I received – from the government.  I find it offensive that you would suggest that I’m lazy and that’s the reason I didn’t pay my own way.

As for healthcare:

Let’s talk about healthcare.

The government doesn’t owe me healthcare.  Perhaps you are right.  But who does owe it to me.  You point out repeatedly that the US has one of the best medical systems in the world, much better than Canada’s to our north.  Unfortunately you propose that only the rich should have access to it.  Based on the healthcare system you propose if Natasha Richardson had been poor in the US she should have been allowed to die because she couldn’t afford the “CT” scan you say everyone has.

You are right.  There are a lot of people out there who don’t work and play the system.  And I used to think the same thing until I had a relative who was forced to go into the system.  Her son had spinal meningitis as a baby.  He spent almost a month in intensive care and his mother was told he’d probably never be able to care for himself.  Turned out the prognosis was not as bad as they’d predicted but he, to this day, suffers from terrible seizures.   The medication  for her son to control the seizures was too expensive to pay for on her own, so the mother turned to “the system.”  What she was told was she made too much money.  She’d worked a full time job everyday for her life but because she made too much money for the system she was forced to make the choice to keep on working or quit work and give her son the medical treatment he needed.   She quit her job.  She was in the system until he turned 18.

There’s also a misconception that only the poor are uninsured.  I’m sure there are lots of lower income families that are uninsured.  But I bet most of them are once again, “in the system.”   Based on the uninsured people I know, most are college educated, working full time jobs.  Unfortunately too many are no longer offered insurance through their companies and even more can’t afford it.  A friend of mine just went from paying 75 dollars a month for health insurance to 500 dollars a month for health insurance.  There’s no way for him to pay for all of his expenses and shell out 6,000 dollars of his income this year for his insurance.  He’s now playing the let’s hope nothing goes wrong lottery.  Because if he were to have a major medical expense he’s fucked.  If I had to start counting I could use examples of at least ten of my friends who are in similar situations.

You say, “NO ONE… repeat NO ONE is eating cat food or going hungry because they cannot afford their medications. Every drug manufacturer has a program to provide free (yes FREE, as in no charge, not even a co-pay or postage) meds if you can prove you cannot afford it. That means filling out a one-page form and attaching a copy of you income tax. I am not guessing on this. I have seen the forms, seen the meds delivered to the doctors office, know numerous people who take advantage of this.”  You are right, there are drug-manufacturing companies that have programs that will provide you with the drugs that you need if you can’t pay for them, if you meet their limits on income.  What do you do when you make 50,000 dollars a year but can’t afford the 500 dollars a month you spend in prescriptions each month?  Or perhaps we can talk about my mother who can’t afford all of the medicines her doctor’s prescribed because of the total of all the co-pays.  She makes too much to get the “benefit” you suggest.  Most people I know do.

“Insurance is SUPPOSED to be for catastrophic emergencies, not for your monthly visit to the doc for you feel good pills. You want to lower health cost then start paying for your doctors visits, stop going to the ER when you have a sniffle, and learn how to wipe your own ass.”

It’s not the poor who are struggling.  We have a system in place that fends for them.  It’s middle America who’s struggling.  On the subway today I sat down and figured up approximately what I spend in healthcare each year.  It works out to be about 5,000 dollars out of pocket.  And I have insurance.  Good insurance.
And we won’t talk about the 2,500 dollars it cost me with insurance when I broke my foot last year.  Or the 5,000 dollars it cost me, with insurance, when my appendix ruptured in 2003. I had emergency surgery, out of network, and spent 8 days in the hospital.

You want to know why people go to the ER?  It’s because they don’t have insurance and they know they have to be seen.  Almost everyone I know would rather see an MD.  It’s faster, and most times you get better care if there’s two minutes for the doctor to actually spend with you.  Unfortunately, every doctor’s office I’ve been in for the past five years asks for payment at the time of your visit.  It’s quite the conundrum.  ER or MD.  Want to take a guess who wins?

As for catastrophic emergencies, who gets to decide what those are?  You?  Me?  The insurance companies?  If I sprain my ankle without health insurance that’s catastrophic.   Even with insurance it’s going to cost me a crap load out of pocket.

And so tell me, how do we fix the system?  Am I just to assume that as long as I have a job that pays me enough to afford my insurance than my life is valued more than those who don’t?  And with the economy in the tank right now, the lesser-valued column piles up a little higher everyday.  At least once a week someone I know let’s me know they’ve lost their job, or had their hours cut, or have been told they are going to get a pay cut.  According to your rant, should I just text them back and let them know that not only are they losing their jobs but when their health insurance ends that the value of their life goes with it.   I haven’t considered myself a Christian in a very long time, but if you really think that my value as a person and the value of my life is based on my ability to afford the care that you proclaim can be provided in the US, then it confirms every reason I gave up religion in the first place.

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3 thoughts on “Maddog’s Rant

  1. Sarah May 2, 2009 / 16:04

    Love it!

    Not having to worrying about what would happen if one of us experienced a catastrophic illness or accident is a godsend. I’ve had fabulous private insurance in The States, been uninsured in The States, on COBRA and now I’m a card carrying member of the Canadian system. Privately paid American healthcare cannot be beat. However, the fact that such excellent care is readily available only to people who can afford the premiums or pay out of pocket is appalling and inhuman. If America can craft a public system and maintain the quality of the private system, it would become the model for the entire world.

  2. Urspo May 3, 2009 / 00:41

    Getting that out is therapeutic.

    I fear there will not be any real health care reform as insurance companies do not want things to change. And there are too many people working for the dysfunctional system who would be at loss if things got simpler.

    I wonder when it will all explode.

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