Sunday, July 12, 2009

OUR SICK HEALTHCARE SYSTEM!

This show aired a couple nights ago on PBS and I thought it was very interesting. I know this interview is long but I think it's worth it. I would love it if you would consider it and share your thoughts about it with me.
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html

Many of you know that I recently lost my niece Faye to cancer. Along with having to deal with the disease, Faye had to deal with the insurance companies that refused to pay for many of her procedures she needed to fight this dreadful disease. Faye's sister also has cancer and is going through the same process and trying to deal with insurance companies, too.

The greed of these companies and our hospitals and doctors has caused our people not to be able to afford health care. Our Senators and Representatives are being paid off by lobbyists and the people are suffering.

Recently, I had a bout with colitis and ended up in the emergency room. I am lucky enough to have insurance but the bill was $7100.00. The lab work was another $400 and I have not even received a bill from the doctors yet. They told me to see my regular doctor on Monday and gave me 3 prescriptions. When I visited my regular doctor, one of the prescriptions was disagreeing with me. He changed my medicine, they weighed me, and took my blood pressure. They did not take my temperature. He was with me all of five minutes. The bill was over $100 for that office visit.

Our people cannot afford health insurance. They don't have it because they can't afford it, not because they choose to not have insurance.

Something has got to be done in this country about this situation. It becomes worse everyday.

Please give me your thoughts and opinions on socialized medicine, insurance companies, our elected officials, etc.

Also, I would love to hear from other countries about your healthcare and how it works and how you feel about it. Do you wait for months without healthcare or do you receive the attention
you need?

June of 70 Plus and Still Kicking resides in Australia and has posted on her blog about healthcare in her country and linked to this one.

All comments appreciated.

30 comments:

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Judy, Thanks for the heads up on this post.

Health care is a tough issue and one I've given lots of thought to but found little solutions. I absolutely believe we need a system that allows everyone to have affordable healthcare-- private or gov't provided, how to accomplish that is the big question.

Like the man interviewed by Mr. Moyer in the video, I too asked, when I saw the masses of people lined up in the rain for free health care-- Is this happening in America? It's shameful.

Two years ago I spent 2 days and one night in cardiac ICU after a minor heart procedure. My hospital bill was $87,000 not including the docs.

Six months ago my husband had minor outpatient knee surgery in a surgery center (not a hospital). We were in the building a total of 3 hours, start to finish. His bill was $27,800 not including the docs.

I'm still scratching my head on how the math works for these two very different surgeries and treatment. Yes, we have insurance and yes we looked for he best possible doctors to treat us, but these are NOT the doctor's bills! The doctor's bill, by the way, were very reasonable all things considered!

Like I said, I do not have any solutions, just a lot of questions. Thanks for starting the discussion and providing the PBS interview.

Jamie Dawn said...

I am opposed to any form of government run health care. Not because I think our system is perfect; it clearly is not. Glorifying France's, Germany's, England's, or Canada's socialized medicine while those countries are in the toilet economically does not make sense to me. They have high unemployment numbers and their government run medical systems have major problems. Radically changing ours to mimmick something in Canada or Europe is ludicrous. We need to better our own system by making health care providers vigorously compete to provide the best services for Americans. Individuals need to have control over their own health care choices without the greed of the insurance companies driving costs up. The greed within insurance companies is horrible, but I don't want it solved by politicians in D.C. Their solution to everything is to throw more money at it and hope it gets better, but nothing they throw money at ever gets better. Education, poverty, unemployment, etc... government is not the solution. They can't "stimulate" their way out of a paper bag much less provide health care for every American.
My daughter and I attended a conference in Canada with my mom a couple of years ago. While we were in Montreal, my mother had a mini-stroke in our hotel room. I called the front desk for help and they had a doctor on call for the hotel. He told me to get my mother to the hospital immediately, so I did. The hospital looked like we were in a third world country, very outdated. My mom languished for hours and hours even though we were paying cash for all services. Had my mother's condition been life threatening, I fear she would have died since it took so long for them to do any tests on her. She was in a room with a bunch of other people all lined up in beds waiting and waiting all night long. People wait for hours in America too, but to idolize the socialize medicine of other countries as if theirs is idyllic, is just nonsense.
Take my advice, do not get ill in Canada.
America needs to improve its health care by taking government out of it and putting the power of health care in the hands of individuals and private companies who have to compete to provide great service. Those who don't cut it won't get enough business to survive. I feel this same way about schools. Charter schools and private schools do a FAR better job than government run education.
I do not want our government trying to take over another industry. Their track record sucks.

Yvonne of Welcome to My World of Poetry asked me to pass along a message to you. She is unable to get into your blog for some reason. She said she will continue to try and then read and leave a comment. She just wanted you to know.

:-)

Margie's Musings said...

The answer to health care for everyone is very complicated. What will pay for it? Who? The doctors and hospital and even the insurance companies will have to cut their charges. It's shameful that we pay many times over for the same meds that they buy from the same companies in Canada and at the VA.

We need a government run health care program to compete with the private companies. I have said many times and it is true: Capitalism is greed driven. If everyone is insured everyone will make money if their greed doesn't drive them to raise the costs exorbitantly.

The insurance companies and the doctors and the hospitals pay advertising agencies huge fees to run ads that are simply not true against a government run program. After all, Medicare is government run. That program spends very little on administrative costs...a fraction of what is spent in the private insurance companies.

Anyone who saw the Bill Moyers' show realizes that the priority of private insurance companies is to cancel anyone who has a claim or fight them until they die of their ailment. Watch those people testify before congress. They are more interested in what Wall Street wants than serving the needs of their clients, the patients.

Yes, it's complicated and as long as congress is on the payroll of the lobbyists, it will remain so.

The Retired One said...

I am very torn on this issue.
As a retired nurse, I have heard all sides of this debate.
It is idealistic for Robert Moore to show Canada and England as if its systems are flawless, and no wait is involved, etc.
I worked in Quality Assurance in a hospital. Where did they talk about the QUALITY of the care that is provided in those countries? Where was there discussion of their health care outcomes? Rates of infection? Levels of education of their health care providers?
There are horrible waits for any "elective" surgeries in those countries that Americans would not stand for...3 and 4 year waits for some surgeries. And who decides what is "elective" and what isn't? Their governments of course. Not the physicians.
Our insurance companies are corrupt. If there is any reform to be done, it is NOT to have the government run the healthcare system. Maybe it IS, instead: to clean up the insurance corruption.
Hospitals are charging outrageous amounts because they are not reimbursed well by the insurance companies OR the government. I sat at countless management meetings in the hospital where we had to slash our budgets because the hospital could not afford to do things. Even our nursing education had to be stopped. How are nurse's supposed to keep up with technology if the hospitals cannot afford to send them to continuing education classes?
Let's have less government regulation on the hospitals and physicians and more microscopic evaluation of the corrupt insurance companies.
And one more point.
Malpractice insurance costs is one of the biggest costs to healthcare (and therefore, costs are passed on to patients). There have been so many frivolous lawsuits out there that physicians and hospitals are paying outrageous premiums because of them. There HAS to be capped awards to lawsuits. Days of paying people 200 million(plus) dollars over a medical lawsuit HAS to be stopped.
Does malpractice occur? Sure.
People make mistakes,and doctors are people. Should the victims be paid for malpractice mistakes. Yes.
But not at the tune of ridiculous sums of money. That is making healthcare in America much less available to everybody too.
Everybody can become more efficient.
The idea that the government would be the most efficient as running a healthcare system is questionable.
Medicare and Medicaide has a LOT of problems. I disagree that they are more efficient.
Look at most of the government run programs...what is their record of efficiency? Anyone tried to deal with the IRS lately?

Linda said...

I would like to see a system in place like the one my husband and I are fortunate to have.

We have a single payer plan and it's great. We are retired so we have Medicare like everybody else.

The other piece of our coverage is provided by TriCare, also government run. TriCare provides insurance for the military. My husband is retired military and elgible for the TriCare for Life plan.

I can't remember ever having to fight anybody. I hear horror stories about private insurance companies but I've never had that experience with our plan.

If what we have is considered single payer then I say bring it on, it's great.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF POETRY: said...

Hello Judy, have had trouble getting your blog but all is sorted now:
Here in the UK we have the National Health Service, doctors, hospitals are free, we have to pay for our medication unless one has an on going illness and when you reach retirement.My husband had cancer first in his lung then a fatal one in his brain. My eldest son was diagnosed with bladder cancer 2 years ago and had excellent treatment, he is now in remission and pray to God it stays that way.We are lucky here but if you wish to go private you have the option.I was taken ill in Spain 4 yrs ago and was hospitalised for a week, it was a private hospital and was dreading the bill but luckily my travel insurance covered all the cost.
I sympathise with your situation very much, one can't help being ill
but to me it seems alot of money you have to pay.
I wish you and your family well
and hope all goes well for you.
Thanks for popping by much appreciated.
Yvonne.

anewwayoflife08 said...

Hi Judy
Healthcare in the UK is very slap-dash. We get free hospital treatment and can see a doctor for free; however we have to pay for medications. Some are free if your condition is on the NHS list. However not all long term meds are free, for instants the meds I have to take are not free and I will be on them for the rest of my life. It is also very much what they call a post code lottery, where you live as a lot to do with what meds you are allowed or what treatment and how long you must wait to see a specialist or have an operation. My dad has been waiting some time now to have a blood clot removed from a vein in his neck, even though he has been told it will cause a major stroke if it is not removed. So as you can see our health care is not much better than yours.

bobbie said...

Hi Judy

First, let me say, I have not yet read the other comments above. I did hear the video the other night. I rarely miss Bill Moyers.

I do not understand why people are so spooked over a "government run" healthcare program. #1. because I have hard much about the way it works in other countries, and it sounds really good to me. #2. because Obama's proposal is to give competition to the current insurance companies, and if ever that was needed - it is now. As you have said, the insurance companies are in business for just one reason - profit. They do not have the interest of the patient at heart. If they continue unchecked, it can only become worse. Insurance agents and their lawyers have no moral right to override doctors' decisions, but they do it constantly.

This is even true where Medicare is concerned. My personal experience was not life threatening, but in many cases it really is. For me it was only a matter of payment for an ambulance ride. My two cardiologists felt I must be taken to a certain hospital immediately. When it came time to pay, someone sitting hundreds of miles away decided I should have been taken instead to a closer hospital, with lesser facilities, and no doctor who knew anything about me.

Today's insurance companies deny treatment and/or certain medications that should only be decided upon by the doctor and/or the patient.

Money to fund the proposed plan WILL be found, and won't even be necessary in many cases because of preventive care. If we can fund two wars, and all kinds of benefits for members of Congress, we can fund decent health care for our citizens. And there will still be a choice for those who distrust the government anyway.

In the interest of space, I'll stop here except to say the lobbyists MUST be stopped, and Congress had better wise up quickly!

Mary said...

I am very glad that I have a good health insurance coverage because I would be broke now if I didn't. My husband and myself both had major surgeries that would have left us poverty striken if we had to pay for it all.
I have paid 8,000.00 in dental bills the past 2 years and that is with 2 dental plans. And this was not a huge amount of work. I can see why poor people have their teeth pulled, ( that's if they can afford that) Dentists and Drs around here live like Kings! I don't know when everyone got so greedy but I think that is one of the problems. I work in a courthouse and it's not unusual for a Dr. to charge 20,000.00 for a few hours of testimony. That is in renumeration for his lost time. What on earth do they make!!
I think it's a disgrace that our nation does not offer health care for all. I don't know how we are going to solve this mess but I'm glad we have a President that is trying.
I also find it very ironic that those that have health insurance are against the govt getting involved.
Another problem is that so many companies are only hiring partime so they don't have to provide health care. I have a few friends that can't believe how their college graduate children are having a difficult time finding jobs with health benefits. I guess the best job these day's is civil service.

SugarCain said...

Great discussion, Judy. Of course, everyone cares about this issue, and no one seems to know what to do about it. I was hospitalized late last year and my HMO worked just like it was supposed to. For that I am grateful. I paid $100 for five days in the hospital. But the seriousness of the situation was brought home to me when I pointed out to my sister that she had a mole that looked rather suspicious to me. She said, "I know. Maybe President Obama will make it so I can get it examined before it turns cancerous."

I read blogs of women in other countries, and their health care seems to be superior to ours, especially mental health care. I am not afraid of the word socialism, so I don't care what direction we move; I just know that we cannot stand still on this issue.

patsy said...

the insurance companies spend money to keep from paying and the hospitals spend money to get more money. the patients get the short end of the stick.
The USA is the only industral country who doesn't have a goverment program.
The goverment people who are fighting the health care bill has a goverment paid insurance.
our health care in nonhealth care.

June Saville said...

Hi JUDY
It is so good that you are having this discussion.

We in Australia have free hospitals and doctors, but have the option of insurance and private hospitals with the choice of doctors available then. We do pay a token amount to go to general practitioners of our choice and the remainder is government subsidy. Many GPs do 'bulk bill' with no cost to the patient.

Today I rely on a government pension through no fault of my own, having worked fifty years, but two divorces and conniving lawyers (one later gaoled for fraud) didn't help.

As an aged pensioner I pay only $A5 for any prescription and indeed am on three I will need for the rest of my life. People not on any benefit pay for their scripts but there is a government system which works to ensure that pharmaceutical companies cannot control prices absolutely as they do in your country. Our scripts are much cheaper as a result.

If I need hospital treatment and go public it costs nothing. I come home with no bills of any kind.

There can be a wait for non urgent surgery, but that too is being addressed. If your situation is life threatening a free ambulance takes you straight in.

Due to neglect for twelve years with a government seemingly hell bent on destroying our health system, the formerly highly esteemed public hospitals are in a deal of trouble, but that is being addressed now. The private ones with their profit motive have always been suspect anyway.

(By the way I have just been invited to join a committee to help implement these changes. I'm there as a community member alongside the doctors and other professionals, and respected for my point of view.)

Neither system is perfect but my goodness I cannot imagine the insecurity and horrors of living where I couldn't get help when I needed it.

In the midst of this global recession our Rudd Government (18 months old) has just put up the pension for seniors. They respect us for the contribution we have made.

This government is leaning on the States who actually run the system to fix up their health administrations and are gradually working to provide funding for improvements.

All of this during the global recession when Australia has so far avoided the big 'R' and is recognised as the best performing economy in the world.

It might seem a bit twee, but the Australian culture has always been caring of people in need. (Could it be our convict roots? We were also among the first to give votes to women and pioneered much of the union system.)

So far as I am concerned a good egalitarian health system is a matter of priorities. Why should our good health depend on our bank balance?

The nation gains greatly when its working people are fit and happy.

America - if your administrators really care, a health system of equality is very much within your reach, even now. Priorities is the word.

We have been watching from afar, and aghast at the way you have done things in the past - Perhaps it's time for a change?

I'll get off my caring soapbox now Judy ...
Hugs
June in Oz

June Saville said...

Hey Judy - have a look at 70 Plus - I've linked your post and extended the discussion. Let's know what you think ...
Cheers
June in Oz

Wendy said...

I live in Canada (Quebec, actually) and our health care system SUCKS!!! Our wait times are unbelievable. You could die waiting for treatment. Yes, our hospitals are free - but try getting admitted to one. Then if you do, they try to get rid of you as soon as possible. Often too soon.

Our emergency rooms are so clogged you sometimes wait 10 or 12 hours for treatment. I tell you - how ridiculous is that???????

Oh yes, there are exceptions. Some days, you get to be seen quickly - only about 6 hours or so.
Our family doctors are so overbooked that if you are new here (or just haven't had to see one) you can't. You'd have to go to a walk-in clinic to be seen. That's o.k. Still long waiting times (2 hrs is normal), but there is no continuity of care in a walk-in clinic.

Specialists are just as bad. A 6 month wait is not unusual. Hmmmm -what are you supposed to do in the meantime??

I could go on and on. I am appalled at our system. I always thought it was much better in the usa. I guess it depends where you are.

Charles Lister said...

Mom,
Thank you so much for doing this post and having this discussion on your page. This is without question the single most important issue in the world to me. I was talking to a close friend of mine the other day and we both agreed that to us this issue is our generations "civil rights movement" our times great political cause.

I have been interested in seeing the demise of for profit insurance companies in America ever since I travelled in Europe in the summer 1988. I got very ill over there with a kidney stone and found myself in the Netherlands with no insurance and not even a citizen of that country. In spite of this I was given what was without question the best experience I've ever had in a hospital. And for this I paid nothing. I was stunned. I asked the Doctor and the nursing staff how this could be... And so began my first lessons in the virtues of a Socialist system.

I contrast this with experiences that I have had in some of America's larger cities over the course of the ten years that I lived in NYC, LA, San Diego and Orlando. Every time I had the misfortune of finding myself in an ER in those places I was subjected to unsanitary environments, long waits and a contempt from an administrator/bureaucrat who's unprofessionalism wasn't mitigated by the fact that I was paying through the nose for insurance coverage.

All of this shrinks to insignificance when one stops to consider that we as a people have allowed ourselves to tolerate a situation where because of an executive or shareholder's greed a human being can loose their life.

That's worth mulling over. In this country we have allowed people to die so that a corporation could post better profits in a given quarter.

That is barbarism.

We are better than that.

We are Americans.

We are the people who decided that we would no longer enslave others so cotton merchants could get richer. We are the people who split the atom.

We are the people who walk on the moon...

We will figure this out.

Rachel said...

I have read all the comments and I agree that this is a huge problem and needs to be solved. I know we have people in America smart enough to solve it....if they would and would be allowed to. We can put people on the moon and folks build all this technology that is so mind boggling...then surely they can fix the health care system!

I rant and rave about my high insurance premium each month and my high deductible. I do not go to the doctor as much as I should due to this problem. It annoys me to no end!!

The Retired One mentioned malpractice insurance and I agree wholeheartedly with what she said about that!

It's scary to think of the government being involved because look at the mess they get things in.

I don't have the answer but it's a huge problem. Good post and discussion Judy.

Bernie said...

Hi Judy, I have been reading other comments on your blog and find some are not based on fact and other situations confuse me. All I can tell you is my own personal experience...I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Unfortnately I had Breast Cancer and was treated for a year and am still having annual check ups. My treatment included surgery, chemo, radiation and very expensive medication. I also had a nurse come to my home twice a week to flush my lines and check on my vitals. Not once was I sent a bill, always I received excellent health care. Unfortunately I am an insulin dependent diabetic, 2 needles a day and see a doctor on a regular basis, again never have I received a bill nor do I pay for insulin or supplies. I have never been in an emergency room so I cannot speak to that but I can say I am very pleased with the Health Care System in Canada....illness is bad enough without the worry or stress of money being involved. I do know that a Heart Attack patient is attended to before someone with a broken leg and that in my opinion is how it should be.
I cannot believe that my care has been lucky, no Judy its our system and all Canadians are lucky for the wonderful health care we have. I choose my family doctor over 10 years ago and have been with him ever since. I am sorry to hear that others have had problems, but even if they have to wait 6 hours, is that not better than a $20,000 bill? I only wish people would talk to people like myself who have had good experiences but I realize there always will be people who will only see negative and not the positive.
I do not think anyone who is ill should have to suffer because they don't have enough money for care, how sad that is to me.
Sometimes people will resist any change just because they don't like the party in power. We have changed parties many times over the years and our Health Care System has survived and is taking care of people as I write this, and they won't have to worry about receiving a huge bill they can't afford. God Bless you and I pray that all Americans receive fair and honest treatments they need, money should not even be considered when its a life or death issue.
Take care.....:-) Hugs, Bernie

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, We're home after a wonderful weekend in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. I'll post in the morning.

You've posted a very interesting blog, Judy. We all know and admit that something needs to be done. BUT--I'm one who does not want our Government to continue getting bigger. Our Govt. does a horrible job with things that it runs (like the IRS, Post Office, etc.). I think we'll be stepping from the frying pan into the fire IF we allow our Govt. to take over. Yipes!!!!! SCARY!

Hope you had a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

Sylvia K said...

Judy, was unable to watch the video -- for whatever reason, but I did read the interview. I do believe it's just one more mark against the medical system in this country that doesn't work for far too many people. I've been blessed with good health and have reasonable coverage for what little I do need through Medicare, but I do not have, nor can I afford any other form of insurance so the best I can hope for is that I remain in good health and kick the bucket quickly when the time comes. I worry about what my kids will do in case of an emergency, because while they too have good health, they also have fairly minimal coverage through their companies. It's a sad tale for this country in comparison to others.
This was a great post, on a much needed topic!

Nancy said...

This is an interesting and vital topic, and there are no easy answers. I tend to mostly agree with what "The Retired One" said. I believe the answer is with finding a way to contain the runaway costs and malpractice judgments, although I admit I don't have a clue where to start with this. I am curious as to how all the countries with government-run healthcare fund it.

I must confess that I have good insurance, and so does my husband. Mine is less expensive than his due to the fact that I am a retired state employee. Perhaps if I struggled to pay for healthcare, I would feel differently, but I am not eager to have the government run the system. I am a person that feels the government is taking more and more responsibility for people when they should be learning to take responsibility for themselves. In trying to be compassionate, we have created a society where many people now expect the government to solve all their problems and pay for their expenses. People now tend to expect a handout rather than a hand up. This concerns me and makes me worry about a single payer health plan added on to everything else the government has taken on. It has to stop somewhere.

In short, I don't want to see anyone go without health care, but I don't know that the single payer plan is the right solution.

Ugich Konitari said...

Hi Judy,

My personal experience with hospitals and medical care has been very good here in India, but then for every "me" you can probably find someone who is very upset with the system.

Our urban areas have several state run and municipally run huge hospitals, which are actually teaching hospitals associated with some very old medical colleges. We also have some very posh and expensive hospitals which cater to another type of population. And then we have doctors who are in private practice. We are welcome to go to any, provided we can bear the cost.

The government runs what are called Primary Health Centres in rural areas. Which are actually the problematic ones where infrastructure is bad.

Anyone using our Municipal and State run hospitals can get free treatment, and those who can afford it are often asked to pay for the medicines and pathological tests (since they always want everything fast, while others wait for their free turn).

These hospitals have a system of "honoraries", who are very senior, capable, and highly regarded doctors who give time to attend patients and do rounds, as part of their teaching load. They also do surgeries. And so we have a situation where a very poor person may be able to get a cardiac bypass, almost for free, where as someone else may be paying for the medicines only. The privately run large hospitals, are similar to those in wetsren countries, and are hence preferred by those who can afford them.

My job/my husbands job gives us total coverage for any medical care and our Institute has tie ups with the bigger hospitals, free and fancy , both, where they sponsor the medical care if t is not possible at our own hospital.

While everyone is not as fortunate, there still exists in my country a situation where :

(a) I had to rush my mother to the ICU of Mumbai's biggest municipal hospital when she had her one and only cardiac collapse in 2000. She had the best ICU care that anyone can get, from some very dedicated young and capable doctors. It helped that I was able to rush out and purchase the meds which actually replaced what they used for her. This way the stock was there for someone needing it next, leaving their hospital inventory also fine. After 3 days in the ICU, they also arranged for eye donation on our request, and presented me with a bill of Rs 1000/- ($20 at todays rates).

(b)My household help , had to have a hysterectomy a few years ago. She went to a private doctor who advised her the procedure, and wrote out a thing for the local municipal hospital , and she was admitted there, and underwent the surgery, a week of post surgical aftercare, and medicines, after which she was sent home with the necessary medications and asked to come for a checkup later. All this totally free, except for the cost of the admission paper which was Rs 10/-( 20 cents).

See, we have the very good and the very bad. Things may not be as spick and span, and hospital food may not be liked. I know cases where folks have not got satisfactory medical care at times.

Insurance companies are now popular here too, for promising coverage, and like in America, later on , it always happens that someone is not covered.

But clearly, costs here are not as preposteros as in the US. My late mother often visited her sons in the US, and although she enjoyed the country and her several close friends there, she used to say, that the only thing that put her in a huge tension, was the thought that she would get sick there, and bankcrupt her kids; this, despite having paid for health insurance there.

As luck would have it, she flew back here after a wonderful stay of 6 months in the US, as 83, a long trip of 22 hours. She was staying with me for a few days, when one evening she felt uneasy, and we had to rush her to the ICU. While we cannot fight destiny, I was just happy she got the sort of medical care that she, a stickler for excellence , would have greatly appreciated....

Beth said...

Hi, Judy. I'm just catching up with my blog reading. I've had visitors for a few days and expect more in an hour!

Thank you for bringing this up and for encouraging discussion. It is urgent that something be done in the U.S. to insure that every American has access to affordable health care. As you know, the first thing I thought right after my recent serious hedge trimmer injury was, "How much is my visit to the emergency room going to cost?" That was truly my first thought and worry, even though I was gushing blood. And I have insurance! But the thing is, I pay so much for the insurance that I can't afford to pay the large co-payments and deductibles. An emergency room visit on my policy cost $200, plus 20% of the total. I don't have that kind of money. So even those of us who HAVE insurance in this country often are not able to get the treatment we need. That is a ridiculous state of affairs.

Amber Star said...

Judy, you really have stirred some people up. The posts are long and good about their experiences. Fortunately neither my husband nor I have had to go into a hospital. My inlaws have had to go about once a year, but they are very elderly. I've had medical issues and tests regarding the RA that has been diagnosed. The cost was shocking when I got the statement from my insurance company. Even xrays that shouldn't cost that much were $2,500 and lab work was $800. I was surprised. Thank goodness we have insurance. I will be starting Medicare August
1st, and have chosen the company I'm with now. I've heard some say what they have is not good and we can only change once a year. And if you have a pre existing condition, the insurance doesn't have to take you, except during the open enrollment period. Hope I chose well.

When I saw your post John Grisham's book and movie "The Rainmaker" came to mind. It spoke about this problem well, but on a smaller scale.

About 5 years ago I helped with a health fair here in Texas. It was a HOT day, but people showed up in droves to get immunizations, eye exams, teeth pulled, and any other medical procedure that was offered. My shift was over around noon, but there were still people waiting to see doctors. My cousin doesn't have insurance and while I was at my doc's office the other day picking up the stuff for the physical I have tomorrow. I saw some information about how to get free or reduced cost medical care and picked up all the information that I could for her.

I think a lot of people are scared to death of the possiblity of socialized medicine, and I don't know if it will happen anytime soon, but people are suffering while they argue.

I remember seeing the Michael Moore movie/tv special and being surprised about how poor our health care system is compared to Canada and Mexico, I think it was. As our health care system is now any major illness w/o really good insurance would wipe out a lifetime of savings and put the person possibly on the streets. It is shameful the way it is now.

Charles Lister said...

I have to post again because I have a great deal of frustration about the amount of bashing of government that's happening on this page. It's very troubling to see people have such contempt for the for the people who choose a career in government service.

They talk at length about how the government can't do anything right and how government employees are lazy and incompetent.

But lets just take a quick look at some of the things government does. When your house goes up in flames government employees are the people who come there and pull your fat out of the fire.

When Pearl Harbor gets bombed or Towers fall it's government employees who go to the other side of the planet and settle the score... Oh yeah, and hundreds of them run up those tower stairwells to save lives as the buildings are crashing down around them.

Government employees are in charge of our nations parks and safeguard the most beautiful land on God's green earth.

Government employees have sent people to the moon and enforced regulations that have repaired a hole in the ozone.

Stop by the Smithsonian Museum sometime or the Library of Congress and see Government employees safeguarding our heritage...

And I will stake my life on a bet that the majority of people who are reading this post right now are doing so because a Government employee taught them to read.

But all of this is incidental to a much more important point. Most of the people posting here live in a Democratic Republic. The power and responsibility to make the world a better place rests with the people. Don't like your Senator? Want a Congressman who represents you and not corporate interests? Well then folks, you gotta get involved. You gotta turn off the TV and go to work for what you want.

I would be willing to bet that many people posting here have not only never written a letter to their congressional representative, some couldn't even tell you that representatives name, never mind volunteering to work a campaign. But believe me, the corporations and the rich are involved. They contribute more than just money. They meet these people face to face, they seek access and influence, and often it is this more than their gold that turns the tide in their favor.

Just remember, in the end... People get the government they deserve.

Judy said...

So far, this has been a great discussion and I appreciate all comments. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and I have enjoyed very much reading them all. I think it is clear that something definitely needs to be done in this country about healthcare and health insurance companies. From the comments posted here there are both good and bad issues with healthcare in other countries but it is not as expensive as our country or it is free to all. June in Australia has also posted about healthcare here and in her country if you are interested go to 70 Plus and Still Kicking in my sidebar and click on her blog. My thanks to all who have participated or will participate. It is obvious from the response that this issue concerns many people and something has to be done soon.

Anne and Leigh said...

I have enjoyed this discussion very much. I for one, am on the fence about goverment health care, however, I do feel that something needs to be done. I like the idea of having something offered by the government, something to comptete against what we have.

I must say the argument of government employees, is not a fair one. There are many wonderful people that work in goverment jobs, but there are just as many idiots as well. I have listened to many goverment employees complain about how stupid their coworkers are, and how incompetent and how they cant belive they have a job. How they are milking the system and just waiting to retire, and not doing their jobs. This is going to be found in many job situations but it also found in our government today.

I also have such an issue with our welfare system and people milking that and it is money just handed out by our goverment. So there are many issues, but this is a great topic and I am glad to see it is being discussed.

I can definitely see it from each side.

Ladyfromthewoods said...

A local author in my county just wrote about this on his blog if you'd like to read his thoughts too. I found it food for thought.

http://blainestaat.blogspot.com/2009/07/price-of-existence.html

Jeannie said...

I remember being 15 and crying when the doctor said I had a bad case of mononucleosis. My mom couldn't afford the medicine (yet alone that doctor's visit) to help me be well again.

I'm hoping that President Obama keeps his word and creates a national health care system. When kids are ill, the last thing on their minds should be medical costs.

Thank you, Judy.

PetalsYoga said...

Bravo! We must all send a clear message to our elected representatives that we will not tolerate one more minute of this fiasco our healthcare system has become. It is time NOW to act and to ensure that every single citizen has truly affordable or free access to healthcare in this country. It's time to truly be "the home of the brave" and stand up to the insurance companies, big business, and pharmaceutical companies that are fighting this.

Clara....in TN said...

Judy, I'm sorry I'm so late commenting on this post. My grandsons have been here for a week and....well, you know how that is! (wonderful)
Of course I agree something has to be done. It seems the people that have worked hard all their lives are being punished for that accomplishment. Sometimes I wish I didn't have anything and could be on welfare. But that is not the way I was raised. I don't want anything given to me, but it would be nice to not be punished. I don't know that socialized medicine is the answer. It seems the goverment is good at messing thing up. I think that everyone should be treated equal whether rich or poor. How that could be accomplished, I don't know. The medicare part D (drug) plan is terrible. Right now, my husband and I both are in the "doughnut hole" ...that is where you have to pay 100% for your medicine until you get up to a certain point. The way they have it set up, you never get up to the point where they pay 95%. My husband is on 20 prescriptiuon drugs and I am on 8.
That takes a huge hunk out of our "fixed income." God help us if our country continues in this manner. I wish I knew the answer!