Sunday, April 04, 2010

Topical and funny? Like an ointment that tingles.

I can only meditate and ruminate on the lint in my belly button for so long.  It was inevitable that at some point this would happen.  Brace yourself, I’m going political.

I am a living example of why health care reform is necessary. I left home at 18.  I worked a variety of menial low wage jobs that taught me to appreciate the value of a dollar.  I also learned that an hour spent stirring huge vats of coleslaw/slicing tomatoes/mopping floors/cleaning fry-o-lators is an hour you can never get back.  I worked hard and lived poor.  I was struggling under the mistaken impression that hard work would pay off, but the truth is that hard work of the menial type tends to be a trap with no advancement or opportunities.

When I got bronchitis, I went to the hospital.  When I sliced my finger open, I went to the hospital. When I had a car accident, I went to the hospital.  The bills these visits incurred were too big to even consider paying.  So I didn’t.

Flash forward to now.  One of my children was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease.  If caught and treated early this won’t present a problem, but if left untreated the long term effects can be debilitating. Did you know Loudoun County has near epidemic numbers of cases of Lyme disease? And that’s the cases that have been diagnosed.  Only forty percent of people get the tell tale bulls-eye rash and fever. Lucky us, we have insurance, so when we spotted the rash we went to the doctor.

That was a $15 co-pay.  Without insurance that same visit would have cost $40 to $60.  Since it was only $15 though, I wasn’t shy about stopping in and checking out this strange rash.  Ask yourself honestly.  If you or one of your children had a rash, no other symptoms and a visit cost that much, would you go?  What if the rent was due, or the refrigerator was empty?  Would you put it off and see
if it got worse?

The doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat the Lyme disease and I went to the pharmacy.  My normal pharmacy didn’t have it in stock, so I went to another.  Silly me, I didn’t have my insurance card with me and they didn’t have my information on file.  With three children misbehaving, I was in a rush to leave. I asked what it would cost without insurance, thinking I could sort out the insurance later
and get reimbursed.  300 dollars!

Without insurance this kind of price tag is unmanageable for most.  If you’re working a job that doesn’t provide health insurance, chances are that you’re probably low wage and poor.  Though Loudoun County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country –there are still poor people here. They are bagging your groceries, serving your fries and picking your vegetables in the fields.  Those are the very same fields that are teeming with deer ticks.  You can tell yourself it’s not your problem, but the long-term medical ailments that will afflict people with undiagnosed or untreated Lyme disease will burden us all. We can either pay now and hopefully prevent illness and regulate the cost, or let the problem fester until costs spiral out of control.

People are tossing around the word Socialism in the news.  But I wonder if they even know what it means.  To me, the whole argument harkens back to ideas of Calvinism. -A variety of Protestantism practiced by a large majority of the first settlers in America, not the cartoon stickers of a little boy peeing on a Chevy or Ford logo. Though the specific ideas of the Calvinists have for the most part been rejected, the flavor of these ideas seems to be an undercurrent in discussions about wealth in our nation.  But then pissing on other people's ideas seems to be pretty common too.

In a Calvinist view everything is predetermined.  God has already chosen whom he will save or bless with his grace.  Therefore the rich, wealthy, attractive people are the chosen and their fortunes are simply a reflection of this. The poor are poor, and suffer misfortunes because they have not been chosen.  –It’s a pretty grim view of things really. These ideas seem to have gotten all stirred up with the work ethic pathos until the general din in the mass media is that the poor, are so, because they aren’t working hard enough, and it is their own fault and ‘we’ as a society shouldn’t support their sloth because it will simply encourage it.

Speaking of sloth.  My family health insurance costs about 15,000 a year.  My husband’s company pays about 2/3rds of that.  It’s a fairly substantial chunk for a group of people that are healthy. Whenever we do go to the hospital, we inevitably get a letter a few days later from our insurance company asking us if there is anyone responsible for the injury that they can sue for the cost.

We’ve already paid for our insurance, but if they can reduce the amount they have to pay out, they’ll have a higher profit margin.  If they can show good returns and profits they’ll get more investors and stock holders and the money will grow exponentially.  Sloth pays.  But real sloths hanging in the trees can't seem to make a dime.  And the hard work of people struggling with misfortunes fills the coffers of the already wealthy.

For too long our economy and our values have been separate. I can’t understand arguing against a system of health care that tries to merge compassion and practicality.  It’s easy to think that you’re
safe but it’s just a matter of time before unemployment or a tick bite you.  The tick isn't likely to be compassionate, but we can hope the society you're in will be.

No comments:

Post a Comment