Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stick to the Status Quo: on Healthcare Reform

I'm no expert on healthcare reform. But, I do have the common sense and awareness of what goes on around me to know that our current system is broken. Just like our educational system. But that's another blog post for another day.

My family is lucky to have insurance paid for by my husband's employer. I know that not everyone is so fortunate and I wonder what the cost of that is ultimately to our government and our society.

What is the effect of the uninsured clogging up hospital emergency rooms with a cold or flu or minor healthcare issue that a person with insurance would go to their primary care physician for? What happens to the child whose parents ignore his asthmatic wheezing because they can't afford to take him to the doctor? Shoot, what about the ones who have insurance but can't afford the $100 co-pay at the ER and ignore that cough and wheeze until it's too late?

I fell into this thought spiral after a visit to my own doctor yesterday. I woke up feeling miserable yesterday after developing a cough over the weekend. I felt lightheaded, run down, and my chest hurt. Then I developed a headache and head congestion. It actually probably happened in the other order, but I seemed more aware of the chest congestion than any sinus problems.

I've had these symptoms before. This was actually my third time since 2008. I end up with a sinus infection that turns into bronchitis. I learned my lesson in the spring of 2008 when I kept ignoring it. With a few exceptions, all of my adult life I've been stronger than any illness and able to will it away. That time, my efforts failed and bronchitis turned into walking pneumonia and while Beckett was in the hospital because of his asthma, I ended up about as sick as I've ever been in my life.

Thankfully, though, I have a good doctor who got me on antibiotics and a good cough medicine and after a couple of days in bed, I was better. Of course, with two kids, that could only have happened with the help of my family and friends.

So, now when I start feeling like I have bronchitis, I go to the doctor immediately because I can't afford to get that sick. I know, though, that if we did not have insurance, I would probably ignore the symptoms until I wound up dead or in the hospital. And I know most other working class families would do the same thing. I grew up in one.

Although in my case, my mother had insurance through her job, but couldn't afford the premium for me, so I didn't have insurance. As a result, I wasn't allowed to do anything because as she kept reminding me, if I got hurt, she couldn't afford to take me to the ER.

While I was at the doctor's office, I asked my doctor what he thought about President Obama's healthcare reform plan. And he told me that no plan is going to be perfect but that we "must have change." He said that most doctors he knows are in favor of healthcare reform initiated by the government and they would overwhelmingly choose not to have to deal with the number of different insurers they do now. He said the paperwork and nickel-and-diming attitude of the insurance companies, not to mention their bureaucracy, is what keeps him and other doctors from being able to practice true patient care.

He told me that his greatest desire (and that of most of his physician colleagues) is standardization. He said that while one insurer might pay for a certain test with no questions, another one will only pay for it if a patient has a temperature in a specific range and if all the right checkboxes are marked on the paperwork. Literally. He told me there are insurance companies that, even though well-child visits are mandated by law, don't want to pay for immunizations and they have to submit paperwork on vaccines multiple times before they'll pay.

It sounds insane.

And obviously, as this article points out, a government agency like HHS and Medicare can't be trusted to run the Great Medical Care Show. At least not in the current incarnation. And it's clear nothing is going to change as long as lobbyists continue to line the pockets of our Senators and Representatives. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the gentlewoman from the Great State of Tennessee makes that perfectly clear:
"My hope is that as we look at health care reform that some of those that are working off of theory, if you will, and the federal system will slow down and we look at where the lessons learned should be and we will think long and hard before they move aboard a single-payer or mandated to restrict choice and restrict options for individuals."

I do believe in change. But Americans need to open their minds and their ears and stop listening to those who are making millions from the status quo while there are children in this country going without healthcare.

And just keep this in mind... The refrain I keep hearing from the right is that any healthcare reform package will limit our choices. But... Do you really believe you have a choice now? Really?

Most companies offer one or two options from the same insurer to their employees and when it comes to buying a private plan, most of us in the ever-shrinking middle class, are limited by our incomes. And God help you if you ever find yourself uninsured and happen to have a pre-existing condition.

If you can find anyone to insure you, consider yourself lucky. Luckier still if you can afford the premiums. And if all that's true and they'll agree to cover your pre-existing condition, stop gambling. You'll have used up every drop of luck on that wager.

It's clear we need a change. I just don't know what that change should be. But, I do trust that President Obama is above the will and whim of the lobbyists in trying to do what's right for the American people.


Suz said...

Amen. I was so excited to get my state job because of the state health plan--which was like this mythical, wonderful insurance plan. Yeah. While I was having that month of incapacitating stomach pain, I had an abdominal CT scan. Although my doctor made sure to have it preapproved, they're now attempting to deny coverage, calling it preventive. How can a CT scan to determine the cause of pain that was causing me to spend hours each day doubled over, be preventive?

The insurance companies are doing a great job of scaring everyone. And the media's right there behind them. It's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
She is no conservative.
See her unconstitutional votes at :

Dawn said...

Oh, I never said Blackburn was conservative. I was merely pointing out that she dodged the question and made it obvious that she's part of the problem. And what is that problem? Members of Congress being paid off by the lobbyists from big pharma, insurance companies, health services companies, and whatever other big businesses want to rape the American public.

Cranky Mommy said...

As one of those without health insurance, I wholeheartedly support a plan to make it easier to get insurance and a simpler process overall. We had private insurance for a while but discovered they are not bound by the laws that insurance companies contracted through an employer are. We were told several times that a certain procedure would be covered, but since I didn't have it recorded in every manner possible, they were allowed to deny it and get away with it. Now we're nearly $20,000 in debt for it. Fortunately GA does provide that as long as you consistently pay some amount to the provider, you're OK. It will take us a decade at our current rate but it's better than bankruptcy. But I've put off our well visits because I couldn't afford them. Talk about feeling like a great parent. (we've been for sick visits)

casadekaloi said...

I have never been here before, but I JUST wrote about this (literally 5 minutes ago) and your post came up on my blog her. I'm adding you to my list, and I look forward to reading more. :)