Wow, it’s dusty over here! Hold on, let me wipe off that chair before you sit down. Yeah, just move that stuff anywhere. Sorry about the cobwebs. Now. Comfy? Good.
I’m glad you came. The truth is I’ve been wanting to talk to you for awhile about something. I’ve avoided addressing it, though, because a) this is not a political blog, b) politics are not as fun to talk about as Evie is, c) I don’t feel I know enough about national issues in order to write about them intelligently, d) there are members of my family who, although lovely people, are, let’s say, slightly to the right of where I am politically and might take issue with what I have to say.
However, yesterday I realized that a) this is my blog, and I can write about whatever the hell I want to, b) on second thought, politics are hella fun to talk about, c) not knowing much about a subject has never stopped me from talking at length about it before, d) this is a blog, so I can say a bunch of highly-charged controversial stuff, get people all riled up and then run away and never come back to this post again.
So…healthcare. Wait! Don’t go! Just sit back down and give me ten minutes. Hear me out. Here, have some peanuts. Go on. Take some.
Now. Healthcare. Where to start. Oh, yes. I wanted to tell you a story to kick it off. Last Fall, when Evie had her eye surgery, all three of us showed up at the hospital at buttcrack- of- dawn- o’clock the morning of the procedure. Evie could neither eat nor drink anything until after her surgery, which meant her father and I were abstaining as well. That meant no coffee. And that meant bleary-eyed and not quite with it.
So, after a million years, we get called back to the inner sanctum of the waiting room where we’re checked in and have to give all our information again to another be-badged person who refuses to make eye contact and mispronounces all our names. After that person clickity-clicks away for fifteen minutes, misspelling everything in our file, they inform us that we owe $400.00.
I blinked. What? Surely in my decaffeinated delirium I had heard wrong. $400.00? That couldn’t be right. There must be a mistake. But…but…we have insurance! I was then told that said $400.00 was the balance after what our insurance company condescended to pay and that the hospital took Visa, Mastercard, personal checks and cash and, yes, they had a stamp.
I decided, as repressed white people like myself are wont to do, to take my anger towards Blue Cross out on the lady in front of me in a very passive aggressive and not at all fair or productive way. I slapped my checkbook down on the counter, pursed my lips and pressed down very hard when writing the check out. I’m sure that lady carried the weight of my retaliation with her for the rest of her day and was deeply affected by it.
I’m no stranger to dealing with insurance companies, and I am very familiar with how they work their magic. But, for some reason, on this day, some things became very clear to me. Like I said, Gill and I have insurance. We pay premiums every month. When it comes time for us to use that health insurance, why are we paying again? These thoughts, I’m sure, had fluttered around in my head many times before when writing similar checks for medical procedures, but on this day they stopped fluttering and shone as bright as the flourescent lights in that waiting room. My having to pay out of pocket for healthcare when I already have insurance is just not right.
The way most Americans receive financial access to healthcare is fundamentally flawed. The core of the problem, I believe, are the corporations that preside over our healthcare system: the insurance companies. I want to make one thing perfectly clear before I go on: I do not have anything against corporations. No, really, I don’t. We live in a capitalist society with a free market and corporations whose sole purpose is to turn a profit. That’s fine with me. I have no problem with a bunch of people getting together, giving each other titles, selling a product and making tons of money. More power to ’em. Things get messy, though, when that product is healthcare. Which leads me to…
…Thomas Jefferson. As you may remember, Thomas and all his peeps, a.k.a. the founding fathers, believed human beings were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. These are rights belonging to mortals for no other reason other than they exist on the planet. Basically, they’re freebies you get simply for showing up. One of these rights is life. And to successfully have a life, you need healthcare. You see where I’m going with this?
An entity whose sole purpose is to make money, a corporation, should not be involved in the process of providing human beings with one of their inalienable rights. Why? Well, when money is involved things that should be easy become difficult and things that should be difficult become…you know. The tricksy ways of corporations are the subject for a whole other post, but suffice it to say that there is a once well-respected, successful corporation in a lot of trouble right now for manufacturing a product that arbitrarily and uncontrollably accelerates to 100mph, thereby taking its occupants on a deathride from hell down the interstate. This corporation may or may not have delayed in fixing this problem in order to save money. I don’t think these are the people I want telling me when I can have a mammogram or a CAT scan.
As you may have guessed, I support a single-payer system. Wait! Don’t go! Look, I know the post office and the public schools and the IRS could use some fixin’. Okay, a lot of fixin. I still believe that our government could provide us with a much better system than we have now. And Sheila at the big government office building downtown won’t be performing my colonoscopy, but she will be using those fabulous nails to process the paperwork to pay my doctor that did. And the government won’t say I can’t receive treatment for the huge wart that grew on my chin 10 years before I applied for coverage with them. All I’m saying is that little old folks on Medicare seem pretty happy with what they’ve got. Our veterans seem pretty happy with what they’ve got. And, dern it, the British, Canadians and Australians seem happy with what they’ve got.
Well, I want it, too.
There’s a summit in Washington today regarding healthcare reform. Some have called it political theater, and it probably is. The Democrats will most likely use reconciliation to push their bill through. (Which, by the way, is not as rare a measure as some would have you believe. In fact, it’s pretty common.) I think the new healthcare bill is a good start and typically how big change occurs in this country. One amendment at a time.
Who knows? Maybe one day Evie will check her child into the hospital for a minor procedure…and leave her checkbook at home.