Friday, September 4, 2009

My Experience With Universal Healthcare

I have been without health insurance for most of my adult life. The time I actually had insurance, it was the really shitty, rather expensive kind that blue collar workers tend to get - high deductibles, high premiums that are hard to manage and a hell of a lot of exclusions.

Without insurance, I have been relegated to having the stoned hippie who lived with me at one point, stitch the hole in my arm left by an ex-lover (who it turned out was married) and my 22 pistol. Without insurance, I have learned to give myself stitches and (as the lovely Juniper discovered) have become a very good hand with butterfly insta-sutures - even one handed, because the wound is on my other arm. Without insurance, I once bought cocaine on the street as a numbing agent, so a friend could drill a cavity that I packed myself - thankfully another friend is a solid hand with a needle in the gums. Without insurance, I have a small chunk of my left elbow bone floating about under the skin - thankfully it only hurts when I bang it just right. Without insurance, I have learned to manage sprains and minor fractures - I learned from the best as a rather "active" child, to manage splints and immobilizing bandages. Without insurance, I became pretty adept with herbal medicine - I can make tinctures, extracts and even a few isolates, all day long. Lets hear it for medicine as it was practiced 150 years ago.

But there have been plenty of times when I was afflicted with something or another, that simply couldn't be left to home healthcare. For those, I had to turn to the U.S. version of universal health care - the emergency room. Let me just take this moment to thank those of you who have been paying for or who have expensive insurance paying for the programs that cut thousands off of the hospital bills - not because I asked them to, but because they wouldn't treat me if I didn't sign the papers that allow them to cover the cost out of special funds that many hospitals have for people who can't pay. They have to pay the staff somehow - and that is the how. It comes out of funds that everyone who can pay, is paying into. The best you can do, is make donations later, to that fund - because you don't even get the bill. Which is to say that you get billed, but that is for the actual bed cost and sometimes for tests they have to run.

I have been in ERs a lot. I have been there when I was injured or seriously ill on my own. I have been there when I have been injured on the job. I have been there when my eldest had a temp of 104.3 and rising when he managed to get the damned thermometer out of his mouth (at eleven thirty pm - almost two am). I have been there when he gashed his head - I wasn't home when he gashed his leg. Something I have noted - the ER is pretty much always crowded - though thankfully, when we were there in the middle of the night with a high fever, we were in a children's ER waiting area that was quiet. And they aren't full with people who have serious emergencies, few enough with even urgent care needs. They are full with people who are sick or injured, who if they had a doctor, if they had insurance, could see their primary care provider. But they don't have those things and are thus relegated to the only provider they can get - the ER.

And most of them are in one of two positions - they make little enough, that they qualify for one of those programs I was talking about, or they make a little too much and just won't be able to pay for any of it. I have been in both categories and I have sometimes been able to pay some - mostly I have come to accept that for the time being, I am going to have horrible credit. But that is besides the point - the bottom line is that those who can afford to pay, are paying for those visits. Taxpayers are also paying for those visits. And to make this a really big "what the fuck?!?!" Many of those people have fucking health insurance - they just don't have enough - don't have enough to cover five hundred dollar annual deductibles. Don't have enough to cover half the cost of the primary care physician visit. Don't have enough to cover the cost of the script the doc will write them and know the hospital pharmacy will fill it for free.

I am that strange sort of introvert - the kind who is capable of sitting down and having a conversation with a whole lot of different sorts of people - as long as the conversation is only with one or two other people...I have talked to a lot of people in ERs and there are all sorts there. Including people like Beatrix, from a couple of posts ago - people with preexisting conditions, who simply can't buy insurance, can't, because no one will sell them any, at any cost. Some of them can pay their bills - at least over time, many of them can't - many of them are just giving up and going on disability, because that is the only way they can actually get healthcare. It's not that they flat out can't work - it's that if they do, they lose their medicaid. So they end up living in poverty, at taxpayer expense - when they could actually work, if someone would let them and not take away their healthcare.

Our current government is about as disgusting as can be. Unlike the other republicrats, they were hired in part, because Americans want publicly funded healthcare options. 60% of republicans polled, want UHC. Substantially more democrats want UHC. And we have a democrat majority - virtually a supermajority. So what the fuck is going on? As Stephanie mentions, the only motherfuckers who don't want public options, are the insurance lobby, the corporate media and the fucking assholes we hired to bring us fucking healthcare...


Dan J said...

I may have to make use of that version of Universal Health Care tomorrow. My wife is experiencing some problems which give every indication of requiring medical attention.

Like so many others, we simply don't have any other viable options. The government disgusts me more and more.

(captcha: eflati. Is that latin for "fart"?)

Anonymous said...

I am 26 years old was diagnosed with cancer at 18 (I had health insurance but they dropped me because I reached my "lifetime maximum benefit"). Shortly after that I learned I was HIV positive. I was able to get insurance again but only through my significant others' employee group plan. Of course that ended when we did. At one point I was prescribed medication that cost $2,162.52 A MONTH. With no medicaid, and no job since my health is less than favorable I had to beg and borrow for two months until my pharmacist found a PRIVATE donor to assist me. Without them and friends I would be dead. No questions asked. Your experience of universal healthcare, as well as mine, is true...and that's sad!