Jul 6, 2009

A pair of book club selections spells out that Health care in the U.S. is clearly broken and unfair

As the debate over President Obama’s much needed health care plan heats up, it seems fitting that the Progressive Book Club’s monthly selection for July is Gov. Howard Dean’s “Prescription for Real Healthcare,” and “Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis — and the People Who Pay the Price” by Michigan author Jonathan Cohn.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the response has been so overwhelming that the club is temporarily out of stock, and I am waiting for my copies as soon as they come in stock. Although I’m not yet up on the debate as I should be, there is no denying health care in the U.S. is broken, and millions of Americans are without health care. As that debate heats up, you can rest assured private health care “insurers” will be spending millions to influence Congress. The number one motive of insurers is profit, and they will do just about anything to avoid paying a claim.

My wife and I are those among the uninsured, although as retired military, I always have the VA hospital in Ann Arbor to fall back on. The lack of full-time work has led us to take two part-time jobs apiece, and of course, none provide health care benefits.

A recent episode occurred to an acquaintance this weekend that really drove home the health care crisis to me. This person is in their early 50s, and since high school he has worked at a small tool and die shop, made a decent living and raised two children. A few years ago, his wife began working there, too. Unfortunately, the shop recently closed and moved its equipment off shore, leaving him without a job and career for the first time in more than 30 years.

Now, since this person lost their job, they also lost their heath care benefits. Well, while helping his son-in-law paint this weekend, he collapsed. The son-in-law told him he was going to call an ambulance, and my friend said no. Why, because he did not have coverage. After he passed out again, it was a moot point.

Once he got to the hospital, he tried to refuse treatment because he had no coverage. He was told he would need a pacemaker at a cost of $50,000. The last I heard, he is looking at cheaper alternatives at his peril. When the cost determines the mode treatment above all other considerations, the system is broken. All Americans should have access to quality health care. We do have the some of the best health care in the world, but access to it is another story.

I don’t see how we cannot afford to not reform health care. If a person can’t pay, the hospital eats the cost. The good news for my friend is that because he had the foresight to buy a home as soon as he was able, it’s probably paid off so he can mortgage it to pay for life-saving medical care. But, I’m not sure who will give him a second mortgage with no job.

Cohn’s book is chock full of examples like that. He spoke in Howell in October 2007, and I should have bought his book then. He gave an excellent presentation on a subject many people consider dry.

The Ann Arbor resident traveled all over the U.S. and some foreign countries and read every study and every source on health care he could get his hands on in doing the research for the book, and he has become a walking encyclopedia on the state of health care in America.

He told some truly horrific stories from his book of middle class families playing by the rules all their lives then losing their health care coverage when a parent's job is downsized, and that is happening more and more as companies trying to compete in the global marketplace try to shed costs and doing so by cutting and eliminate health care benefits. Or, working almost there entire life, and just because a person lost that job, they have to turn down life-saving health care like my friend.

Cohn said The U.S. spends about 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, more than any other industrialized nation in the world, but millions of Americans have no health care coverage at all. The U.S. spends more on health care than those nations that have quality universal health care. The system is broken.

Even though the President is not advocating for a universal health care plan like he should, we are hearing the ridiculous talking points from Republicans about “socialized medicine.” I am baffled by their protection of insurance companies that will look for any excuse not to honor their commitment if they needed it over middle class working families.

I saw on the official GOP blog, wrongmichuigan, a post about a man whose two-year old daughter was allegedly receiving a chemotherapy treatment. They claimed this person said,
“To him, it doesn't matter what health care costs. He works hard to be able to afford good health care, he says, and if he can't afford it, he'll go into debt to make sure his little girl gets the best treatment money can buy. His biggest fear is that in an effort to lower the costs of health care in America, politicians and bureaucrats will deem the best care "wasteful" or "inefficient." "Don't mess with my right to medical choice," he pleaded, "If I have the money , or even if I don't, I want to be able to buy that care."

What if this person loses his job like my friend? His daughter dies? What if he has a lower wage job; his daughter dies or gets less treatment that the person with more money? Why should anyone go into debt and lose their home just because a child got sick? Chances are, they would deny her coverage because the cancer is an “existing condition.

The system is broken.


Not Anonymous said...

Nobody in this country is denied health care.

If you and your wife are uninsured while working two jobs apiece, you're at fault. Not the country. Not the health care industry. Waiting for an employer to supply you with health care is foolish on your part.

What if your wife gets sick? Do you really not care for her that much that you'd leave her uninsured because you want to make a political point?

You go ahead and wait for government to take care of you. Then when they put you on a waiting list to get the care you need, who will you blame? The Republicans?

Canada is reeling from the taxes they pay for their health care. Their system is poor and even their supreme court ruled against the health care system they have now.

People in Great Britain are removing their own teeth because they can't wait for their dentist to get around to them.

Again, in Canada, people are going to the provinces where private care is not outlawed to get their care or they are coming to the US for their health care. Living in Michigan, you should know this because many of them come across the bridge you complain about in Detroit.

It's unbelievable that a man would allow his wife to not have health care. You're a fool for doing this. You should be working a third job if you need to get her health care. Maybe you should spend less time sitting around an office in Lansing and counting heads at Tea Parties and spend more time trying to get a job that keeps you busy and makes you money.

I know it's tough in this state, and it will continue to be tough until after the next election. But for a man to play on a blog and not provide health care for his wife, is not being a man.

Get off your ass, get another job and call your insurance agent to get some health care for your wife. Even working parttime in a gas station, you'd make enough just from that to pay for her health care. Or don't you think your wife is worth a few hours extra work per week? Be a man for a change.

Communications guru said...

“Nobody in this country is denied health care?” Not true. It’s sad that you attack me personally just to ensure insurance companies can keep gouging people.

“Waiting for an employer to supply you with health care is foolish on your part?” Wasn’t it a Republican talking point to the health care crisis to “just get a job?”

This crap about Canada and England is simply a lie you made up or some talking points you got from some rightwing site. It is simply not true. Plus, the current proposal is not a universal plan. It should be, but it’s not.

I’m not trying to make a “political point:” the budget is simply stretched as far as it will go, like the majority of Americans.

Not Anonymous said...

You're making excuses again. Not one American is denied health care in this country. All you have to do is show up.

Talking points? You're talking about talking points? It's your wife that you're failing to provide health care for and you want to whine about talking points?

Get a job. Pay for health care. Employers don't PROVIDE health care. They provide access to health care through group plans if they are able. Providing health care for your family is YOUR responsibility. If you don't have it, and can't afford it, you need another job so you can call your agent and get health care for your wife.

If it's talking points about Canada and Europe that I'm getting from a right wing web site, provide the web site that I'm getting it from. You seem to know where I get my information, so prove your knowledge. You've already proven you're failing at providing for your family by not getting coverage on your wife. So prove where I'm getting my information from and show the proof that it's wrong.

You're wrong. Health care is important. Even to you it's important because you're bitching about it in your blog. Yet, you don't do one of the most basic things in providing for a family by seeing to it that your wife has health care coverage.

Women in their 40s and 50s are supposed to have mammograms every year. They are supposed to have physicals each year. They are in danger of cervical cancer, breast cancer, and a myriad of other problems. What are you going to do? Make her suffer with whatever ailment she has that causes her to need a hysterectomy just because you're pissed off that you don't get free health care handed out to you by big brother? Get off your ass and get your woman protected. Be a man and take care of your wife. Get her the health care that she needs. Or do you not care if something happens and you don't have her with you for many more years?

Stop making excuses and do what's needed to get done to protect your wife by getting her the proper coverage.

As big an ass as I think you are, your wife obviouslyl sees something in you and you in her. Your responsibility is to provide for your family. Get off the internet and get another job so that you can properly care for your family. Stop making excuses for your failure and do what's right by your wife.

Communications guru said...

“Not one American is denied health care in this country. All you have to do is show up?” Oh yes, I forgot; it's the, "you just show up at the ER and you’re taken care of argument.” That is costing hospitals billons of dollars and leading to putting them out of business. Second, by the time you reach the ER it’s a life-threatening problem that could have been treated or discovered at a routine check-up, and it further strains the health care system.

“Get a job?” I have two. Plus, I think that was the other GOP taking point about health care. If you want health care, get a job. Apparently, you haven’t priced private health care where there is no competition and not much regulation.

You tried to pass off that lie about Canada and Europe. You are a liar, brett. You prove it’s true. Canada’s system is not perfect, but every person has access to health care.

In Michigan alone, 1.3 million people do not have health care, and 45 million Americans do not have health care, and you’re going to attack me because I can’t afford a health care plan? Sad.

No, in your book I should be like Mary Mornin. You remember her, don’t you? In February of 2005 George Bush was pushing his payback to Wall Street when with his scheme that tried to privatize Social Security. He was at one of his conferences where only Bush supporters were allowed to attend. In Nebraska, Bush had a brief conversation with a “regular person,” and it was Mornin. She informed the president that she was a divorced mother of three, which included a mentally challenged son. She told Bush she worked three jobs, and Bush’s response was “Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that.”

Screw family, screw your community, screw charitable groups, screw volunteering screw service organizations, just work more. Screw the 40 hour week. And I want something for nothing? Please.

Not Anonymous said...

That's your excuse? Charity groups? Volunteering? Service organizations?

Take care of your responsibilities at home first. Once your responsibilities are taken care of, THEN you do the charity work and the other things if you choose.

You're putting others ahead of your wife and that should be unacceptable. I know it's unacceptable to me. My family is taken care of first, then I get involved in the prevention of child abuse which is my favorite charity work. But if I can't put food on the table and care for my family first, then I don't have the ability to help out with the prevention of child abuse.

Not one thing you have said, the truth or the lies, justifies neglecting your family before others. Not one thing.

Communications guru said...

No, I don’t need one.