Post this as your status update for the rest of the day

You may have noticed that I haven’t written about healthcare reform.  I haven’t blogged about it, Tweeted about it, or changed my Facebook status for the rest of the day like all the cool kids are doing.

It’s not that I dismiss the issue.  Hell, my family had $10,000 of out of pocket medical expenses last year.  And that’s just for our portion of the medical bills not covered by the “good” insurance for which we shell out plenty of cash on a monthly basis.  Our family has a decent income and health insurance, but it is pinching us from both sides.  I cannot even imagine how it is for the people who are living paycheck to paycheck and fear someone getting strep throat.

Nothing short of a free, public healthcare system will really address the fact that even the supposedly well-off are being squeezed with medical bills.  Yet, I am enough of a liberal that I am cool with a plan that at least solves the woes of those with no insurance at all.

In an ideal world, everyone would have excellent medical coverage.  Doctors would grow on trees and the streets would be paved with gold.  And I am sure as shootin’ willing to pay out the nose for that.

But, good god almighty, please let me know when you’ve figured out how to do that, OK?  Because I have lived under NHS, and I can tell you it sucked.  The only way we got treated for certain things was to use the private insurance we paid for on top of the NHS coverage.  Which means that those who couldn’t afford private insurance were walking around for six more months with staph infections in the jock area before someone from NHS figured it out.  So, those without money were not getting decent medical coverage.  Sound familiar, Americans?

And, while I get that Canada is the Promised Land to many, I do wonder if that system would be able to function as it does if it weren’t right next door to the U.S.  The cheap drugs they get?  Are developed to sell to a U.S. market.  Take away the for-profit U.S. pharmaceutical market, and I wonder whether we are going to have any of those new drugs developed for the socialized medical systems to negotiate bulk prices on.  That goes for other medical developments, as well.  And then there are those who slip across the border for treatments for which they don’t want to wait.  While I know most Canadians are happy with their medical system, from where I sit one reason it is possible is that the U.S. is just down the road.

There are major problems with the healthcare system in the United States.  Having lived abroad gives me the perspective that everyone should have a free clinic that provides medical care, but it also taught me that it is not easy to deliver quality care to an entire population.  The reason that the politicians keep arguing and debating is not that they are heartless villains intent upon leaving Tiny Tim to fade away in the gutter on his crutches.  They keep arguing and debating because it is unbelievably complex and difficult to overhaul a healthcare system.

People with all sorts of fancy degrees in this stuff are publishing eloquent opinions that argue… well, anything you can imagine.  The healthcare experts all have different views on this, and they actually know what the hell they are talking about.  While all I know is that this is a very complicated problem.  I just am not qualified to get out there and state an opinion.

But, ahem, for what it’s worth, if I were to write something about healthcare, what I would write would be that it is so absurdly complicated and huge a problem that perhaps we should stop trying to get universal coverage.  Instead, let’s focus on the children.  Let’s overhaul the system for kids under 18 (or still in high school up through 19).  Completely start over, creating clinics and having doctors do immunizations and checkups right there in school and dentists making yearly visits to elementary-aged kids in their schools.  Let’s come up with a cracker-jack system for the kids, one that provides fantastic care for them absolutely for free.

That, I think, would be worth the money it would take, rather than throwing money at all of the compromise ideas that fail to either shit or get off the pot.  If this system for kids works, fan-fucking-tastic.  It will be an excellent model for overhauling the rest of the system.  If it doesn’t work, it will be smaller than a system for the entire public, and so it will be easier to fix.

That’s what I would say if I were to weigh in on this debate.  However, since it doesn’t fit on my Facebook status report, it is obviously not a deeply held belief.  I’ll tell you what else doesn’t fit – an acknowledgement that the problems are deep and complex, and we can’t just click our heels three times to make them go away.

22 responses to “Post this as your status update for the rest of the day

  1. very well said… We pay nearly $600/month for the pleasure of paying the first 4k in medical expenses (I have been chipping away at the latest $400 er bill sitting here on my desk)….. I know full well that SOMETHING needs to be done, but I am worried about the haste, as someone who has watched loved ones struggle in our govn’ run VA medical system (and lost a dear family friend because the VA did was best for the bottom line and not what was best for my friend) I am scared of what is to come…. I just cannot help but be afraid, I am 99% certain that the outcome would have been different if he would not have been in the VA system.

    I KNOW that I don’t have the answer, but I do wish I didnt feel like the government was trying to hurry up and just get it done, because I think the consequences of getting it wrong, are just too high….

  2. I completely agree. I’d pay through the nose to make sure every child gets adequate health care. But sadly, children can’t vote, although overweight smokers and really old people with heart conditions can. So I’m less forgiving of our politicians. On the bright side, I do think a combination of socialized basic care combined with better, faster care for people who pay more can work. It works reasonably well in Germany.

  3. So well said. I totally agree, and conservative though I am, I would gladly fund health care for children with my tax dollars. Something needs to be done, but the solution is not an easy one. I think that health insurance companies need to be dealt with before we try a universal, government-run plan, but that would never happen because, well, big insurance companies have too much influence on Capitol Hill. (Not that I am cynical about how our politics work at all…)

    This is such a confusing issue to me, and I am glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks so!

  4. All I have to say is thank you for writing this (and then I started to type more, deleted it, and will leave it again, at thank you.)

  5. P.S. I wonder if I should link this up to my FB page? (!!!)

  6. yep, I was feeling dumb and lazy for not knowing the answer yet.

    Right now, with thousands of dollars worth of procedures scheduled for the next few days just to find out what’s making my bladder twitch in such a painful way, I’m too superstitious to knock anything but wood.

  7. Actually, the Canadian system doesn’t cover prescription drugs at all – only medications delivered to patients while in hospital. Most people have some kind of private coverage for prescription medications, and those who don’t are often unaware of the financial burden a serious illness could cause without such coverage. The public system pays doctors’ salaries and funds research, but it overlaps very little with pharmaceutical development.

  8. Interesting idea — and I’d add in complete health coverage for the disabled, all the disabled. From birth to death.

  9. hmmm…

    yes, it’s a problem bigger than my limited understanding. I don’t feel like I know the answers on what exactly must be done, or CAN be done right away. But I know that something must be done.

    and that whole status thing on FB was driving me up a wall as well. a friend of mine made good fun of it with something about believing everyone had the right to protection from zombies or some such thing… taking the wording and twisting it just enough.

  10. Sure….kids.

    And the disabled.

    Oh yeah, and all the baby boomers that are coming into their senior assisted living days.

    Oh, and all the moms who need prenatal care.

    And oops! Don’t want to forget all those American workers who are part of the unions.

    Who does that leave out? I think just us mommy bloggers….

  11. I think that’s a very interesting idea, E. — overhauling the system in stages would allow for refinement over time. Not to mention that the people who seem so adamantly opposed to health care reform would have something relatively easier to digest — at least at first.

    Evenshine — Seems to me that Emily suggested only kids. It was a commenter who proposed including the disabled…

  12. I am Canadian, and I see your point about medication. However, I have never sought treatment in the US, nor do I know anyone personally who has. I think it’s pretty rare. Since private insurance is not allowed here for ‘medically necessary’ procedures, we don’t have a situation where people require it to get treatment. I am one of the majority of Canadians who is quite happy with my system, and who has had positive experiences and timely care within it.

    That said, I recognize that you’re operating in a different culture , and that you can’t just take a system from one country and import it to another. And that our system does have its downsides, too. I just hope for you that you’re able to address the heartbreaking situations where people are bankrupted by medical bills or can’t get insurance at all.

  13. I have no idea what Evenshine’s problem is. Her comment was in no way constructive. You’ve brought up some valid points that have to be addressed by our government.
    I know that NHS is not a good time – my aunt lives in the UK right now. But that doesn’t mean that any public system would be just as bad. In fact, we’re not even talking about a public system here in the US – just a public option for insurance. The idea is that non-profit, publicly subsidized insurance (for those who can’t afford the outrageous private prices) would keep insurance companies in check and provide some much needed competition.
    I guess I take this one pretty personally since I’m diabetic and completely uninsurable outside of group coverage. If I weren’t covered, we could probably manage my expenses for awhile but T & I like to say that we’re one unplanned pregnancy away from bankruptcy. And we’re comfortable. I can’t even imagine what people living paycheck to paycheck do.
    The problem is, at some point *all* of us reach the place where we’re not profitable for insurance companies. That’s why we have Medicare. But some of us – actually a lot of us – are already at that point.
    The only problem with incremental coverage – covering the kids first and then seeing how that goes – is that politics are too polarized. This is probably the only chance we have for meaningful health care reform, while there’s a Democratic majority in the House & Senate. Too many people on Capitol Hill are happy with the status quo. Unfortunately, much of the loud, unruly hate we’re hearing lately about “socialized medicine” is going to pop up every. single. time. You’ve assumed – quite reasonably – that if coverage for kids worked, people would be all “Hell, yeah! Let’s try that for everyone!” I don’t think that will happen.
    I can’t pretend I have all the answers, but I think a public option is a good thing and a good first step towards universal coverage.

  14. Man, I wish I had some answers. We’re not doing enough, I know that much.

  15. I don’t know much about the proposals in the USA at the moment so can’t comment on that. Just to add my 2c worth anyway – have a look into Australia’s health system – we have free healthcare for all people for medically necessary things. So if I get really sick? I will be looked after. You pay an extra 1 or 2% tax for this if you are a high income earner. On top of that people can choose to have private healthcare, which enables you to choose your own doctor/hospital, and have no wait time for elective surgery (such as hip replacements etc). Waiting times for elective surgery are far too long, but at least nobody is going broke paying for necessary treatments. It works fairly well, I think.
    Here’s hoping your government sorts something out that works for all.

  16. I’ve read the monster bill. All 1017 big, fat ugly pages of it….and it is petrifyingly scary. The scariest pieces of it are that those who still need care the most, are those least likely to get it, because the types of care that they require will not be covered under a nationalized plan.

    What needs to happen, in my opinion, is comprehensive tort reform. The reason why medical care is so outrageously expensive is because everyone is playing cover your ass. The amount of b.s. lawsuits against doctors is staggering. The one thing not covered in the bill? Tort reform.

    And Evenshine? Seriously? Sarcasm doesn’t help. It doesn’t foster discussion and it certainly doesn’t make anyone want to listen to your point of view. So, read the bill, focus on the facts and quit being a smart ass.

  17. This post and the comments here may be one of the more informative bits I’ve read about the debate. You did a great job explaining things and it’s very obvious you’re torn about the issue too.

    Flutter, you go girl!

    P.S. I found you via Gwen’s hiding spot.

  18. As a South African I must just add that our public health system is very over-burdened but still so much better than those in other African countries. I guess it’s a question of degree. I think there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all and this is also probably the most political issue around. I like Emily’s suggestion, and the Aussie system sounds sensible. We’ll be following your progress with some interest here – if we can understand it.

  19. I won’t jump into your points about the health care system, I just want to say that I agree with your overall point — that a million people posting it as their facebook status will make no difference at all, although it might make us all feel good about ourselves.

  20. The problem with complex problems is that groups that make simplifications of the topic win. It’s a democracy – not a classroom. There is no test. Just an opportunity to express one’s opinion.

  21. I think that’s a fantastic idea. Someone needs to put you in charge. I’ll get on that right away.