With the health care debate in full swing, I took the time to watch Michael Moore’s Sicko. Everybody should see this film. Say what you want about Moore, he’s not smart enough to make this stuff up. The individuals tell the story. Listen to the American, who lost the tops of two fingers in a woodworking accident, explain how he had to choose which finger to save as one finger would cost $60,000 and the other would cost $12,000. Hear another man in Canada, who cut his hand in half, explain how four doctors and two anesthesiologists performed 24 hours of surgery, saved his hand, and didn’t charge a dime. Watch a couple in their fifties, with insurance, move into their daughter’s basement because three heart attacks and one bout with cancer bankrupted them. See Brits, Canadians, and French stare in utter bewilderment as Moore asks how much their treatment costs (the answer is zero).
Now that proposals are coming out, I think it’s important that when we discuss health care reform, we shouldn’t discuss the horrors of socialized medicine. Know that any scary talk is coming from the insurance industry and they should not be trusted. Instead, the country should discuss this quality of life and care we desire. In turn, our legislators should give us what we want. They do work for us, you know. It’s safe to say that, given the choice, almost everybody would choose to live a long, healthy, happy life. We, as a country, shouldn’t have to worry about a necessary procedure because of cost. We shouldn’t have to fight our insurer for a procedure when our doctor says it’s necessary.
Reform opponents argue that a public system will ration care and a visit to the doctor will be like visiting the DMV. The irony of this argument is that we have that system now. Yes, I have good insurance, but my doctor better be in network, and I have to go to a specific hospital. And because I choose that specific hospital, I had to pay more in monthly premium. And don’t even get me started about DMV comparisons. I challenge you to go to the emergency room and time your wait. I bet you get your license in less time.
My wife tells me that we got a good deal when our baby was born as it only cost us $800. But then I see people in England and France have children and they don’t pay a thing, and they get six months off paid leave, and in-home help. Yes, they pay more in taxes, but they’re healthier, happier and they don’t have co-pays or deductibles. I would gladly take that $800 bucks, put it toward a public plan to get those kind of benefits.
My wife also fails to account for our trip to the emergency room, which took place five months into our pregnancy. The one where the nurse told us that the visit would be more expensive if we waited to see a doctor. The visit that appeared to be an annoyance to the nurse until she realized that my wife was pregnant, information that was told to two other nurses along the way. The visit that we left before we ever saw doctor because we already had been there for two and a half hours. This is the health system we pay for. This is no way to care for people.
This isn’t that complicated. Do you want to choose your doctor? Do you want the ability to go to any hospital without fear of “out of network” penalties? Would you like it if your doctor says you need a procedure, you get that procedure immediately, without having to fight an administrator to have it done? Would you like it if you were able to see a doctor any time, get treatment, and leave without paying? Would you like it if prescriptions were one low cost, regardless of what the drug was or how many pills you got? Would you like it if you could get care regardless of your current medical condition? If these things aren’t attractive to you, then, please, by all means, stick with your private plan.
Sadly, We’re not telling our representatives what we want. Instead, they are telling us what is possible, and what is possible is being dictated by the insurance companies. Insurance companies with deep pockets. Insurance companies who’s pockets became deep by our premiums. Companies who’s pockets became deeper by denying claims, denying procedures, or denying coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. If they truly cared about us, we wouldn’t be discussing reforms today. No, the only thing that matters to them is the bottom line. It doesn’t matter if somebody should suffer, or even die, because a procedure is denied. They’re making money today. Until we stand up and tell them what we want, we’re going to continue to bend over and take it. As Moore says, and I’m paraphrasing, it’s time we stop being the country of me and become the country of we.
Call or write your representatives today and tell them what you would like to see in health care reform. Until they understand that they work for us, they’ll continue to work for the people lining their pockets.