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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

37 Minutes

This is not usually my style, but I figure if I give myself a personal soapbox, then never use it as such, that's my failure. I spend too much time trying to listen to all the sides, trying to understand where people are coming from, and believing there has to be a middle ground.

Two men in my community: They are saying that most people who don't have health insurance don't have it because they don't want it.

I would like to take a peek inside their reality. I don't understand how anyone with their eyes even half way open can believe this is true. The people I know who are "chosing" to go without healthcare are doing so because the fact of paying for healthcare insurance would mean forgoing other vital necessities... like a roof over the head or food on the table. It's not a choice if you can't feed your family.

I want to ask those men... do you KNOW anyone who is going or has gone without health insurance? Have you talked with them? Have you visited their home? Do you honestly have any clue about the experiences of which you speak?

I read that something like 80% of people are satisfied with their current health plans.

If that is true, then 80% of people must have their heads... in places I'm too polite to use the words for.

Why isn't everyone pissed off about the rising cost of health insurance?

Why aren't people angry that their insurance company has more to say about the way they receive treatment than their doctor or themselves?

Am I the only person who is frustrated that I can't simply have a family doctor anymore, because the THREE different insurance plans my family of five has to deal with won't allow for that arrangement?

People must be prioritized over profit.

Is it really so hard?

37 minutes? That's how long this video is. I'm just suggesting that you might take 37 minutes to watch it.


Frank said...

Right on! Tell 'em.

Technically, if I have X amount of money and use it to pay the rent and feed my kids, I'm "choosing" to not buy health insurance. But that's Hobson's choice.

Melissa said...

I love it when Tracy gets fired up! You know I'm with you on this one. I don't see many of the people you are describing on TV sharing their struggles. I thought it was pretty telling that when these debates were started a few weeks ago, thousands of people in LA were lining up for days to get a chance to seek medical help for free. Any one of those 80% who are "happy" with their healthcare are more likely to be terrified to lose it or see the premiums increase any more. This a big issue and I'm glad you spoke your mind on it.

Todd said...

Hey, I've *always* been satisfied with my health coverage even when I was completely uninsured? Why? Because thus far I've rarely had to use it. I suspect many of that 80% are in the same boat. Maybe some minor illnesses, a few Dr's visits, not a lot of emergency or chronic care.

That said, the one time we *did* try to use our health insurance for a five-figure bill we *almost* ended up paying for it all because they tried to weasel out of paying for it.

And if one of us got seriously sick or injured when we were going without health insurance? I shudder to think.

Living in Canada now, and quite happy with the care we've used here. Again, still nothing major (knock wood) but what I *can* say is friends I know who *have* had to use it for more serious issues hvae had few complaints. The stories of being unable to choose your doctor or long waiting periods are, in my experience and those of my friends, greatly exaggerated.

Callie Lyons said...

Amen, sister!

Anonymous said...

I am one of those who would be in deep s**t if we lost our current insurance - 3 major health issues that each alone would make me uninsurable. Early retirement? Not an option due to these and pre-existing clauses I would face. Too many people have to take bankrupcy because of medical bills, some even with insurance. There HAS to be a change of some sort. Magoo's Mom

Tracy said...

Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Todd -- I've watched your blog with interest since you moved to Canada and I've always been particularly interested in your experiences with healthcare there. I've also been writing quite a lot about various Canadian healthcare entities and I can't say I've run across anything that turns me off. In fact, viewing both Canadian and American institutions of healthcare from the "inside" point of view has given me yet another perspective to contemplate (and often confuse myself).

I think your point about wellness is a big part of the issue here. Until experiencing a major health issue, most people probably don't really understand their coverage and just what the cost/benefit of our current setup is. And while a change in attitude about wellness and prevention would certainly improve the big picture, we send so many mixed messages about personal responsibility in this country that it's going to take a huge cultural shift to have any effect. In my head, it all keeps coming back to our approach to education, family, just a skewed view of the world that seems a huge task to right.

The only thing I'm absolutely sure if is that we (generalized, Americans) are going to have to start behaving in the manner of informed and educated consumers and start demanding that our health insurance and our healthcare facilities are the products that best benefits us. We have to take some responsiblity here and stop just accepting whatever comes to us. And taking that responsibility is hard. Just try, for instance, walking into an doctor's office asking to pay cash for your visit. I did so in a "specialists" office a few years ago and they were so confounded they couldn't even tell me what an office visit cost. They were so thrown by having someone show up wanting to pay for services up front, with no insurance hassle, that they had no idea what to do with me.