Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sick of It

I was going to share with you a pretty post about lots of recently finished projects and upcoming plans. But my brain's been hijacked today and the following is what happens when you come to a blog whose focus is everything that comes through my head.

I've been reading T R Reid's eye opening book The Healing of America this week in which he details how numerous countries around the world established effective, affordable universal health care systems which make our current setup laughable. Except it's not funny. It's life and death.

And this morning's episode on OPB's Think Out Loud addressed the issue of a mandate as part of health care reform. How, exactly, does a mandate make health care affordable? It seems to me that it's a big old gift, wrapped up in a bow, to the very same for profit insurance companies that have made such a debacle of health care in this country.

Today I read that the health insurance industry can't support the proposed changes. Well boo hoo! How many other businesses have folded in our current economy? Let 'em fold. Then maybe we can start over with a real health care system designed to keep Americans healthy, not make corporate executives even richer.

There are so many ways we can make this work. Medicare for all. Private doctors paid through a public system. Private (but not for-profit) insurers paying doctors. Reid's book opened my eyes to so many ways of getting to what we really need: a health care system that puts people before profits, allows doctors to practice freely (without massive medical school debts and frightfully expensive malpractice insurance), and alleviates the fear of medical bankruptcy that haunts all of us, both uninsured families and those whose coverage is sparse and/or may be terminated at the whim of an insurance company employee.

I hope you'll read Reid's book and then write a letter, call a congressperson, make a stink in some way or another. We need to be loud and clear about real health care reform--it really is about life and death.

Next steps:

If you can't get your hands on Reid's excellent (and very readable) book, this video from Mad as Hell Doctors does a great job of explaining why health care is so insanely expensive in this country. Also--not to be missed-- Keith Olbermann's hour long Special Comment last week on the subject of health care. Here's the transcript if streaming video isn't an option.

Is our system in the US really so bad? Why yes it is. Take a look at this interactive map and see just how poorly we compare to numerous other countries.

Even if you're insured, you may not be once you actually need to use the insurance you've paid for. Googling 'health insurance horror stories" turns up pages and pages of results like this one and this one and this one. Of course Michael Moore's film Sicko (which, ironically, arrived in its cheerful red Netflix envelope the day I came home from an overnight visit to the emergency room without insurance) is another strong indictment of for profit health insurance in the US.

Now what?

Unless you've got a better idea (and please share it if you do) please consider working hard to support a public option in upcoming health care reform. It's the only way to cut into the insurance companies' stranglehold. Write letters, sign petitions, donate money, make a fuss because nothing the Obama administration has proposed to tackle comes close to this in terms of improving the economy and making American citizens healthier and more secure.

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Mimi said...

I completely agree with you.

Anonymous said...

I like your verve, Magpie. I'm a first time visitor. I live in Albany, OR. What I want to know is why can't the medical corporations [not insurance companies] run their systems the way Kaiser does? With Kaiser, you and your employer pay dues. You go to the Kaiser doctors/hospitals and you're responsible for a nominal co-pay. I think Providence is doing this too. We've got Samaritan Health Services down here, not doing it.

Why not do away with the middle money grubbing insurance companies? I'm like you. I have absolutely no compassion for them. And I'm not so sure the government can do an adequate job in the handling of public funds. Read: another enormous bureaucracy rife with opportunities for corruption. Did you see the news program [60 Min. I think] that exposed the fraud in the Medicare system? Horrendous! Millions of dollars going to the most unscrupulous con artists.

Allowing medical corporations to keep their member funds in-house seems almost too easy. I might be missing something major. I'm admittedly not the sharpest.

Magpie Ima said...

Hi Grace--welcome and thanks for stopping by! My understanding is that Kaiser is different from an insurance company in that they aren't about making money as much as providing health care. My personal issues with Kaiser have to do with sloppy care with my mother and that they can't provide me with the alternative treatment for my thyroid disease that's worked so well for me. I don't know enough to comment about Medicare abuse but I have personally experienced insurance abuse. When I was uninsured I paid $140 cash for a mammogram. When I was insured, my insurance company was charged over $300 for the exact same service. Someone was skimming off the top there and I think that does on with every claim. There's a lot of money flying around out there that isn't doing a thing to make people healthier.