August 13, 2009

Healthcare Dying In Waste Corruption and Ignorance

I think Obama is doing a great job trying to rebuff the lies that are being spread by the Republicans. I don’t understand why we can’t have a legitimate debate instead of these shouting matches executed by republicans and special interests. If Republicans have ideas, now is the time to put them forward. Instead of talking about what you don’t want lets hear what you do want. Let’s hear the kind of healthcare system you want in place. We all agree something has to be done; I know I am not comfortable with what we have because of many of the same reasons out there. Insurance companies are taking over, doctors and politicians are corrupts and we the patients are not free to make decisions affecting our health. What would you like to see different in the health care system? Now is the time for suggestions, not shouting. This is our future it affects our very lives.

I took my daughter to get braces a few years back and I was told by the doctor that it would cost about $2000 just for the braces but that did not cover the pre-requirements to getting the braces. I had to get a brain scan and x-rays as well as molds made and of course the health insurance did not cover it. So I went ahead and first got the molds done. I paid hundreds to get the molds made, I cannot remember the exact amount but it was either $250 or $400. When I asked the doctors for the molds they told me the molds belonged to the doctor, even though I paid for the molds. The molds should belong to me I might want to visit another dentist, but the doctor held on to the molds so if I decided to take my child to another dentist I would have to pay a new fee to get molds made. That’s why we need to reform healthcare because of things like that. What benefit does the doctor have to hold on to the mold, maybe they feel that would compel me to use them as my dentist, but that is not fair to me, why was I paying a fifty dollar co-pay, to be jerked around by the doctor. I would like a system that gives one fee that covers the braces and everything needed to get braces. The initial $2000 I was quoted was not accurate because the doctor did not tell me the out of pocket expenses for the braces, the $2000 was only what the insurance covered.

Also it gave me a chance to reflect on the fact that braces amounted to cosmetics and though the healthcare covered most of it, it was not necessary, even though most dentist will recommend that a child gets braces. Braces is constant maintenance and generates income for the doctor, however if I joined the gym and visited a nutritionist none of that is covered. There is no real choice in medicine as far as I am concerned; we are just forced to use popular medicine which is all about pushing drugs and surgery.

One day my daughter said her wrist hurt, I suspected it was because she was moving furniture and cleaning during the weekend. I took her to the doctor just to be on the safe side, because her primary care physician was an arthritis specialist, guess what, she found a lump in my daughters wrist, she asked me and my daughter to feel for it, we tried and tried but somehow could never feel the lump. She asked if she did anything different that might have caused the pain and no matter how many times I told the doctor about the moving furniture she insisted the lump was there. Either way my daughter would need surgery to remove or correct whatever was wrong with her wrist she made this diagnosis before any x-rays were done. It was the insurance; it covered this type of surgery. Just to be sure, she did want us to go to a lab to get x-rays and blood work done, of course more money.

The point is I didn’t really think anything was wrong with my daughters wrist, not wanting to be neglectful I took her to someone who I thought was going to back me up calling out what I thought for sure was a teenage scheme--but left needing to spend more money and faced with a potential surgery. I didn’t opt for the surgery, and my daughter hasn’t complained about her wrist hurting unless she has been doing strenuous work, she was terrified of the possibility of surgery for an aching wrist. Someone with something simple that could have been treated probably with an aspirin or just waiting it out ended up being a candidate for surgery.

I am not saying that doctors are the villains in the healthcare issue but they are part of the problem along with the health insurance company. I did not understand why the molds weren’t covered under the health insurance it they are part of the requirement in order to get braces, the molds should be covered under the braces expense to me that is just common sense. You pay one price and it covers the molds plus whatever x-rays that is needed all the expenses and eliminates unnecessary ones like the brain scan, which I just couldn’t wrap my mind around.

When my insurance dropped my daughter and she tried to get healthcare insurance she kept on getting denied because they insisted she already had insurance, and she didn’t. What ever network they used to check her status still showed she was covered by my insurance company. The paperwork hadn’t caught up to her status and it had already been a year since she had been dropped. Why did it take so long for records to update? We are paying for ineptitude, for something serious as insurance coverage why should we accept when the insurance company drag their feet getting the paper work done, this lag could be the difference between life and death.

That’s why we need to reform the insurance system, that’s why we need to fix healthcare, because of all these kinks in the system, it is ultimately impacting us the consumer and affecting the kind of care we get. I firmly believe that healthcare needs to be reformed, and reformed like right now. The system is mired in corruption at all levels. I know that we like to blame the insurance companies, it’s easy to blame the insurance companies they are the obvious target and the pharmaceutical companies. We are saturated with advertisement pushing drugs; I would like a system that regulates the number of commercials. They control many members of congress as well as the media market. We also have to hold our politicians accountable and get involved with the debate. We all have a role.

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I want to be able to sit down with my doctor and have a free flowing conversation. I don’t want to wait thirty to forty minutes just to see my doctor for five minutes. Patients go home after major surgery only to die in their living rooms because insurance companies will only pay for one or two days post surgery in hospital care. This is happening now in our current system. The health insurance companies have no problems short changing the consumer when it comes to care, but will spare no expense to make sure their influence in Washington is not undermined by the people wanting to change the current system.

Many health companies and associations increased their first-quarter lobbying expenditures, sometimes dramatically. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association upped its lobbying expenditures by a full million, to 2.8 million dollars in the second quarter; GlaxoSmithKline's spending jumped from $1.8 million to $2.3 million; Novartis grew from $1.4 million to $1.8 million; and Metlife Group reported $1.7 million, up nearly 50 percent. Allstate, which spent less than $900,000 on lobbying through March, boosted its spending to more than $1.5 million from April to June. (written by: Dan Eggen for Washington Post 7/21/2009)

The opposition is very organized as we saw in the 2000 election, demonstrated during the last election and now in these town halls. They are Americans but many have a very different view of what America should be like and that’s a fact, but the people voted for change. This is our biggest challenge, the Republicans are doing what they always do, preying on the ignorant, the angry, and the racist. We have a disagreement about the type of healthcare we want that’s all this is, surely we can present some ideas. I am not interested in stopping others from having a voice on the issue, post your suggestions in the comments, add to the dialogue.

I think one of the underlying reasons why healthcare reform is so difficult to achieve in America, people don’t want to die. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what kind of life you have, most people don’t want to give it up. But the reality is we are all going to die and we have to die some day. I used to wonder what age I would like to live up to and when I was younger fifty seemed great, but now that I am approaching forty I am seriously rethinking that. The fact is whether we are sick or healthy we don’t want to give up life. It’s one thing we have in common-- everyone wishes they had more of it, more time on earth. To many quantity still beats quality. 

Some of us have to say enough but just when do we say it—after the fourth or fifth surgery, after the addiction to pills and illicit drugs, maybe after we need Diprivan, after the amputation or prosthetic, or the transplant—that’s for you and the doctor to decide and should they be paid for their consultation, yes.

Much of our healthcare dollars are spent on these end of life, or extension of life treatments. The Terry Schiavo case is the most recent high profile end of life case, even the president and congress got involved. In many of these cases it is the families that won’t let go. Most of the people who believed Terry Schiavo should live would put to death a perfectly healthy person under the death penalty, these same people fight to protect the life of the "unborn". These are the same people who are fighting against healthcare reform that would provide healthcare for the millions living without it. These are the same people who profess to love god and country, and they also love guns and war.

Obama is pointing the way on healthcare and we need to follow his lead. He knows a public option is the true way to ensure that all Americans get the medical care they need when necessary. The Obamas have tried to be an example by starting a vegetable garden at the White House and advocating for eating healthier and keeping fit. He is sacrificing political capital to get this legislation through Congress.  We cannot allow our voices to be drowned out by the noise of the status quo. All I know is that we rank 37th in the world when it comes to quality; Cuba is 39th. We rank behind Israel, Colombia, Dominica and Costa Rica. We are second in spending for healthcare spending more than all the countries that rank higher than us on quality. We burn 15% of our GDP, France 11%, Canada 10%, and UK 8%. We are 50th in life expectancy ranking behind Boznia and Herzegovena. We rank behind many countries that offer some kind of government sponsored healthcare. Something has to be done, we need real solutions. We need to fix the system.

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