Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health Insurance Reform....

Okay, I've covered this before but I'll do it again, quickly this time. I'm thinking about health care reform. When I think about health care, I think about me being a kid fo 5 who spent 5-6 months in the hospital with rheumatoid arthritis-now called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In my room were 8 beds. There were kids with all sorts of disorders in them. All were on the new medicine "cortisone", the wonder pill that could cure everything. Except what my bedfellows had. About once a week, if I remember correctly, one of us died and they'd put the sheet over his head and wheel them out solemnly, telling the rest of us not to look because death was not pretty.
So I was one of the lucky ones.
And I was lucky again when my intestinal ulcer--all 3 liters of it--burst just a couple of hours from a brilliant, US trained surgeon who diagnosed it, cut me open, and removed that 3 liters of junk before it burned me up from the inside. He later admitted that just a week earlier he'd had a similar case and lost it with another gringo.
But in Peru, one of the places those people who are afraid of or suspicious of health care reform bring up to show how socialistic medicine doesn't work, everyone gets health care. Not always great, and if you want a blanket on the bed you have to pay for it, and if you want more than gruel while you're in the hospital you have to pay for it, and if you want medications, you have to pay for them before you get them. But you at least get seen by a doctor a couple of times a day for basically nothing. And you can get an X-Ray at will for $3 US bucks. A CAT scan will cost you a 20 minute wait and $15 bucks. A full set of teeth implants, by dentists trained in the USA, will cost you $1000. Heck, my last op, the third on my busted intestine, cost me $4000, which included the hospital, anestheologist, the two surgeon assistants, the pre op tests, the post op tests, three or four days in the hospital (private room, good TV, a small whiskey bar after the second day and the chance to smoke cigarettes on the room's balcony) plus 8 recouperative days in the surgeon's house while he nursed me b ack to health.
That's reasonable. If I make close to $30 grand a year and have to pay $5 grand, including airfare, to save my life, that's reasonable.
But today, Sierra was sick. Madeleina's been sick for days with a wicked flu. Hot, cold, hot, cold, throwing up, can't see straight. Basic flu that most of us get a couple of times a year for two days.
But today Sierra got it and started to throw up. And Chepa got scared and took her to the emergency room for a check up to see that it wasn't swine flu or something else that could do real damage.
I didn't disagree: Sierra had a high fever and was throwing up everything we put in her.
Then Chepa called to say she needed a prescription and could I cover it as she had no cash. I said sure.
Two hours later, at Walgreens, I was told the first prescription was $110; the second was $580. I asked what the heck that was. I was told it was an inhaler that would help Sierra breath easier.
I said Sierra didn't have a breathing problem.
No matter. They wanted their $580, plus tax, for a three day cycle of inhaler.
I said we'd do without it.
They called the doctor to say I was complaining and the doc said that was a mistake, that that medcine could kill her; he'd miswrote the script.
Thanks. Makes me feel real comfortable.
I bought the other medicine and it turns out to be a children's variety of Thera-Flu, the $5 buck over the counter easy way to get high. Only this was over a hundred bucks.
"Why the price?" I asked the pharmacist.
"Because if your baby dies, you want proof that you tried your best."
"Why would my baby die from the flu?"
"Well, about 5% of the world's population dies from the flu annually. That's why. People can't stave off a cough. So aren't you glad you're paying for medicine that will let you off the emotional hook?"
I liked the honesty but not the truth. What they sold me was the identical thing that you can buy over the counter--at about $5 bucks.
So I'm thinking about the last 50 years I've been involved in health care, and I'm thinking my dad, who had insurance, paid off our house before he paid off my med bills, and I'm thinking of paying almost $20.000 out of my pocket annually to get health insurance in New York for my family and I'm thinking about flying to Peru and getting world class doctors to operate on you and house you for less than the cost of the basic emergency room visit in the US, and how cough medicine from the doc, which is the exact same as that from Walgreen's shelves, costs $110 or $140, when I could have bought it for a couple of bucks over the counter, and I'm thinking that no one in the US has a care for any of my kids.
The health care system is a joke. Nearly every country in the world has a better system, for free, than we have. And their docs, all trained in the US, are better than our docs, who smoked a lot of dope and graduated from Mexico universities. So the real good health care, which costs a world citizen maybe $100 a year, at best, and generally less than that, costs nearly 2,000 a month in the US.
I am standing in amazement at people who think we do not need health care reform. We are the most backward, and we have the worst techniques, the stupidest doctors, the most flagrant fouls, the most diseased system.....and everybody else just does it as part of the drill. For us, we spend a trillion a year and we can't get it right.
Something about trying to sell me a $580 medicine that turned out to be misdiagnosed, for an illness that will disappear in 12 hours even without medicine. That's US health care today. That's got to change.


Morgan said...

The whole Health Care system needs serious refrom, no question. Very sad to hear these stories of such mixed up procedure and policy.

I can say that Health Care in Canada isn't all that healthy either, even though it is often thought of as being ideal, or close to ideal. My mother is a nurse, and some of the stories I hear from her, and through local papers, are a total shame.

Hospital staff are completely, horrifically overworked, beds are scarce, patients are tended to in the hallways and lounges, wait times are massive, people have actually died waiting, doctors have accidentally removed wrong organs(!)... the list goes on.

There definitely needs to be changes made. But for general health and well being, aside from breaking an arm or emergency surgeries etc, I really feel that people need to be taking closer and greater care of their own health, in terms of preventative, maintenance, immunity and so forth.

Plants and diet factor big here.

Las Plantas y la dieta, fuerte fuerte cuerpocito

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