Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rebels on the Uprising

The other day my enchanting husband turned to me and asked, "So, what do you think about this whole healthcare reform thing?"

What do I think?

I'm not quite sure, especially since the proverbial ball is still rolling so to speak. As far as healthcare goes, I've been a player in just about all spectrums.

Growing up dirt poor didn't offer the option of health insurance. My father was a shrimper, or a trawler. During the late spring and into early fall, he'd dip his nets into the nearby lakes and bayous of Louisiana to catch shrimp, and while the "in-seasons" were usually giving and bountiful, any extra cash had to be saved for the winter season where shrimping took place off shore, and wasn't quite as bountiful. The larger boats were able to go off shore and fish for weeks at a time, however, my father's small, double-rigger, was only able to go out for a week at a time, and definitely not in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My mother would work on the boat with my dad in order to keep from having to hire a deckhand, and my older sister would "keep" house while they were away. I don't remember much of that, but I do know that no matter how strained the finances were, my mom made sure we were kept healthy and up to date on our shots. No health insurance, though, none at all. And we grew up without health insurance. Having five children of my own, I have no clue as to how she did it, but did it, she did.

Flash forward to my first years of parenthood. I call these the first years of parenthood. Being a single mom isn't all it's cracked up to be. Especially if you squandered away your high school education, graduated by the skin of your teeth, and refused to go to college. I became a single parent, a welfare recipient, and medicaid card holder at the age of twenty-two. Trust me, welfare will not make you rich, not at $172.00 a month, however, the medicaid card was priceless. The card...the keep your babes healthy...the safety net I held precious and dear to me. It wasn't all peaches and cream, however. Government sponsored health programs meant not being able to get an appointment on the same day you call the doctor, if your child started running high temperatures, the emergency room was your closest option. It also meant waiting three or more hours to see the doctor, who was actually a med student, however, this was a plus, because no one is more thorough than a med student. Still, I considered myself fortunate that I had this safety net as I struggled to better my life in order to better theirs. And of course, I did, but that is another story.

I am now a married, working (although I took this year off), mom. I also provide health insurance for my entire family at a cool three hundred dollars a month. Real bonafide health insurance. What does this mean? Alot, for me. It meant that ten years ago when I became ill, not only did I receive treatment immediately, I was able to go to a specialized facility. My children are able to see the doctor on the day they become ill, and I don't have to wait until after hour emergency room visits for an ear infection. However, there is a down side as well. If you were able to read up on Ms. Savant's story, her healthcare provider denied her request for treatment at a specialized clinic. My cousin was denied her request for a stem-cell transplant because it was her second one. And I'm sure there are many a scare story out there from you all as well.

I'm not done yet. Bear with me.

Now my oldest daughter is nearing the end of her childhood. She will be 18, soon, and a senior in high school, and soon, very soon, uninsured. As a mother, I want her covered. COVERED! Will this healthcare reform benefit her? Will it hurt me? Will it do what it's suppose to do? What will it do?

I couldn't answer my husband's question. I'm not sure what I think of healthcare reform. Think about it, history shows that anytime the word "reform" (reformation) rears up, somebody out there looses his head.

I still don't know what I think.

What do you think?


  1. I don't know what I think either. Other than I want to be insured and stay insured. Growing up - I didn't have insurance either and there were no horror story medical issues. thank goodness, but I'm a big what if person.

  2. I still owe money from my first pregnancy, when I wasn't eligible for my parent's insurance because I wasn't a full-time student and couldn't get coverage with my job so they billed me a huge chunk of money. But I survived. My daughter got Medicaid, all her checkups and shots, and thankfully, she didn't get sick. At least not until I got real insurance. :)

  3. I pray for the success of our nation, but I do not trust that universal healthcare is going to be the key to that success. Competition within the privatized community keeps standards high.

    But then the issue soon becomes political so I'll just leave it at that.

  4. I'm not sure what to think. I just wish something would happen soon. I would like to see some of this change we have talked about. I know in California the Governor has talked about doing away with all state funded insurance. That would mean something like 900,000 kids without any chance of seeing a doc. That begins to make my blood boil. Right now my children have the medical coupon and I've been glad for it. Yet there has been some murmurings of WA ending their state funded insurance. So I hope some politician can pull there heads out of somewhere and do something helpful soon.

  5. I agree with Jillien. In order to provide for the people without coverage, I fear it will hurt the ones (i.e.; me and my family) who have it provided by my husbands job and still pay an arm and a leg to insure the rest of us. What if his job says, "Well folks, now the gov't is gonna give you insurance, so we don't need to."
    Then we're screwed, because can you imagine going to a govt run facility for health care? Like the DMV or USPS? Oh my hell!
    I think that privatized health insurance needs some competition to bring the rates down. But I'm not sure the gov't can do that. They skeer me.

  6. Sigh.

    I've always been personally lucky in this department, but I have heard some horror stories. Those stories have made me a fan of reform. HOWEVER the gov't certainly does have a long and illustrious history of taking a good idea and turning it into a bad thing.

    I think we're due for change. I am optimistic, but guardedly so.

  7. I don't know what I think. I just know that we pay about 500 bucks a month for health care and we still have to pay tons of money for prescriptions, emergency room, doc visits and such. It makes me wonder if we would do better with nothing.

  8. On one hand I'm still nursing my wounds, but on the other hand a 10:00AM call to my doc got me an 11:00 appointment. I got an injection and a script that are Way Less Costly than if we were uninsured. And I got something to blog about, unless I DIE from my latest affliction.
    [cue music]

    The remicade I get every 8 weeks costs over $3,400 each time. We used to pay $500/year. It's still a good deal (if by "good deal" you mean life-saving-absolutely-necessary-medicine) with a whonking $1,500 deductible.

    "Health Alliance?; thanks."

    As newlyweds we had a policy that was 100% medical. No deductible. No copay. We had 100% prescription. 100% dental and vision too.
    Spoiled newlyweds. Stupid newbies.

  9. Being from Canada, this issue doesn't really affect me. We all have health insurance here. It's a provincially sponsored program, so each province (state) is different, but the basic principles apply. No matter what your age, or income level, you are covered. I have heard horror stories about our health care system though. People dying while they wait on 2-3 year waiting lists for surgery. People paying out of their own pockets to go to the US to have their surgery instead of waiting for it here. But, then you have my niece. Born with a hole in her heart, and looking at open heart surgery when she was 4 months old (and then again at 11 years old). The cost to her parents --- Nothing. In the US, most families would have gone bankrupt, even with insurance. There are always 2 sides to the story. I guess the only thing you can hope for is that the reform will take the best of both sides, and create a better system for all.

  10. There are people who qualify for government assistance... people who have a great medical plan, plenty of money, great care...
    and then there are the people who fall through the gaping chasm in the middle.

    I want everyone to have access to healthcare, but I can't afford to pay anything more. It's hard enough to make ends meet as it is. My husband is a small business owner and he is constantly worried about having to pay more and more.

    I don't know how they can swing universal healthcare in this country. Market driven economies usually create the best medicines and treatments. But at the same time, preventative measures cost a lot less than curing some one who is sick.

    I will say that when we had Kaiser, I thought it was some of the best and most affordable care I have ever had. I miss it. I think it is a good model for what we need in this country.

  11. Boy, your experiences are very, very similar to mine! For many years, after my divorce, I had no insurance but my ex was required to provide health insurance for the kids. Between 1980 and 2003, I had 2 different jobs that actually had insurance available for me for a total of 6 years out of 23 years! In 2003, unemployed, no savings at all because of low-paying employment, ya know, I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer and the day I was diagnosed, my doctor (Surgeon) sent my daughter and I over to the Welfare office to apply for a medical card. Thankfully, the case manager there managed to find a way to qualify me for that but I had to cash in my life insurance policy ($1,500) and a very small retirement account I had from when I worked part-time for about 2 1/2 years at Penn State University ($700). Those two accounts together put me over the maximum amount of savings, if you will, to qualify for the medical card so that's why I had to cash them in. It took me 10 months to get qualified for the lovely cash assistance of $175 a month, which came off the top then of my social security disability award. Who in blazes can live on $175 a month, anyway? You're so right about not getting rich on welfare and so many people believe that's what any of us who end up on welfare are doing -getting rich! HAH!
    Both my two little grandkids here -who are autistic -get SSI disability and because of that, they qualify then for a medical card.
    I do have to say that the medical card paid for all my chemo and radiation treatments, my surgery to have the malignant tumor removed, physical therapy for the two herniated discs I acquired about 2 weeks after the surgery, pain management too after the therapy was discontinued and all my prescriptions as well. The only cost to me was $1.00 per prescription and $1.00 per doctor visit for a co-pay. It even covered -with no questions asked -a prescription I had to have for a series of 10 injections that cost $300 per shot!
    And, as far as the doctors go that I have dealt with or that my grandkids have seen, we've never once had to wait in any long lines, or delay treatment to go to the E.R. No problems at all along those lines. My doctors and the kids doctor too have all been extremely good about squeezing any of us in if there was an emergency need for treatment or care, so I sure can't complain there at all.
    But I sure can attest to how difficult it can be to get any type of care if you don't have insurance of some type -be it the medicare/medicaid or a private insurance company!

  12. Cancer Care is extremely expensive. It's been ten years and I only recently paid off MD Anderson (and this is with insurance). I think what worries me about a gov't sponsored healthcare program is the who what when where and HOW? Both of my parents are on medicare, my mom is on both medicare and medicaid. They were recently told that their policy will not cover non essential prescriptions such as pain medication (due to cut backs, etc.). Non essential? My father is a diabetic suffering, and I mean truly suffering, from neuropathy. The only sleep he gets is when he finally passes out from sheer exhaustion. Now if the gov't is cutting back on medicare/medicaid patients due to expenses, how are they going to afford tacking on an additional million or seventy? That is what worries me the most. Their health care is already suffering due to the economy, what will happen when an extra load is tacked on? And Mimi, I too share your concern. While my insurance isn't perfect, I don't want my employer to say, "Hey, we're dropping you. Go on gov't coverage, etc.
    I honestly think we could hash this out on a multitude of pages! I also agree with Tammy. We do need some fixin...I just fear the fixing becoming more of a political issue than what's for the good of the people...or the one.

  13. You said it Alex, political issue. Universal Health care scares me. Not because the someones who will end up paying for it are tax payers but for more personal reasons. We are fortunate, we have health insurance through Chris's work...we pay a good penny for it, but we are fortunate to have it. However, he works in an industry that would be greatly affected if there plan continues forward as is. Most hospitals would have to choose a supplier and then theirs the governments budget for that year for things like knee, hip and other types of ortho surgery. Budget runs out, surgeries stop...doesn't matter how much of the year is left. There goes your job. So then he has to compete to get hospitals to choose him over all others for those surgeries that will no longer provide for his family because there will prob be a set limit, some kind of mandate. My husband has had the opportunity to work with several nurses from Canada...last month he lost one of them because she died while on a waiting list. A list she had been on for almost 2 years. It would be different if she were the only one, but several of them have family members that cannot be treated because of some predetermined number. Yes, there are the lucky that get seen and treated...but still there are not. It's not a great system, to me it seems broken.
    I think of Chris's employer. The government insurance will prob be cheaper...lots of companies will drop their current providers and go to them. (Hrmm will that promote jobs in the insurance business? Or will it add to the double diget unemployment numbers) Anyways, so then it's as if you no longer have a choice in your health care. Think of all the other things the government dabble in. I do not want them telling me which doc my child can see and how often and for what, and I'm sorry...maybe next year, we'll put them on a list?
    So yeah, it's sufficient to say that this government run health system scares me. Too many maybes and what ifs attached to it that aim at our family. Not to mention, it's gonna be hard to squeeze any more taxes out of this dry lemon to start paying for others insurance and whatever else the politicians decide to throw in there.