Bergeron: Not sure of a cure but I know I’m sick
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The depth of my ignorance on health care reform goes as deep as Mariana’s trench. Certainly I know about as much as the average American who gets his information from the media – both mainstream and otherwise. But having the attention span of a hummingbird I have not sat down and read all the various proposals and machinations there of.
But – if it is safe to say that many American’s are only acquainted with the various scare tactics and talking points offered by both sides of the issue – most would agree what we have now is not working.
I’m a hypochondriac thus I often visit imaginary doctors but I have spoken to real doctors who declare that the current health care system in this country is irreparable, incomprehensible and unaffordable. The time spent with a patient is dwarfed by the time required by the insurance companies (for those patients who can afford insurance) in order for that provider to get paid.
I also know physicians who contend that if you remove the free enterprise form medicine the quality of care will be diminished and the bureaucratic morass which will ensue will make us long for the days of our current system.
Who to believe?
Here are a few things I do know certain. I have a friend whose sister has breast cancer and is uninsured. Her doctor prescribed pain medication which she cannot afford. My friend was picking up the tab for his sister’s medication until he lost his job and his own child needed eye surgery. When his sister’s medication ran out and she was told by her doctor to call an ambulance and go to the emergency room where they could not turn her away. My friend’s sister’s emergency room bill for admittance and a months worth of pain medication was almost five grand; her pain medication would have cost about $300.
Another thing I know is my own health insurance has increased almost 75% in three years despite me never having filed a claim. Due to the fact that about 10 years ago I had an allergic reaction which produced an asthmatic attack, that is considered a “pre-existing condition” which it not covered. I don’t have serious asthma so that is not a huge deal; but I would not be so cavalier if my pre-existing condition was something serious like cancer or diabetes.
An irrefutable fact is that there are over 40 million Americans (some say 50) who have no insurance. But the sad truth is having health insurance is often not enough. I think we all know those with insurance, who have been financially devastated by a serious illness. Moreover I think we all know someone who has had serious health issues which have been exacerbated by the stress of fighting with insurance companies over getting them to cover needed treatment.
I have a good friend who was rear-ended by a drunk driver – he was insured, the drunk was not. Before it was all said and done, he had lost his job, suffered through great pain and a long rehab that ended over a million dollars in dept. My friend was a licensed plumber, his injured back prevented him from working for nine months; he sold his house to live off the equity. Once he begins working again he won’t be able to buy a new home because of his bad credit due to his medical bills – I know all this to be true.
I was told by an old pal, who owns a few bars, that if this health reform passes he will be out of business; I know he is not lying but I’m not sure I believe him.
There is little doubt that whatever changes occurs with America’s health care system some people and business will get stung, some costs will be incurred and some politicians will vote for, not what is best for America, but what is best for their party and their careers.
There seems to be an across the board, bi-partisan opinion that the health care system is broken yet nothing has been done by both parties. Could that be because congress is insured?
The bottom line is what we have now is not working and serious steps need to be taken. Whatever gets done will hurt some but help many.
Obama has been getting much heat for his insistence on reforming a system that provides much wealth for a few sectors and is generally agreed as being both incomprehensible and unaffordable for the rest of us. I’m not sure what we can do but I do know we can do better. Hopefully before my imaginary illness start acting up …
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on
RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com
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