Compassion vs Health

25 Aug

Compassionate Care or Health Scare?

     I used to worry about how I would afford to send my 3 children to college. I saw how expensive colleges were and the tuitions that I saw my students facing were rising steadily. I thought that sending my children to college would be the most expensive bill my wife and I would face in the future…but then I overheard two of my colleagues talking during lunch one day and I realized that the future was going to be a whole lot more expensive than I thought.

What my colleagues were discussing was the cost of healthcare for their children after college. Once their children left school and reached the age of 23 they were no longer covered by our health insurance policy…and that’s when the real expenses begin to accumulate, putting college tuitions to shame. In fact once your children leave high school you will be bombarded with phone calls and correspondence on a regular basis asking you to continually prove that your child is in school and attending classes and achieving passing grades. And if you can’t do so, your child will be booted off the insurers rolls faster than you can dunk your teabag in a cup of boiling water.

I was amazed at the stories I was hearing. Parents thinking that now that their adult children had finally left the protective womb of Takeoutasecondmortage University and would finally begin paying their own way in life were getting calls from those children asking for thousands of dollars more to cover their medical expenses.

Now that their children were adults and college graduates they were no longer under their parents’ protective medical coverage umbrella. Without jobs, they couldn’t afford to pay for their own insurance and even with jobs, many employers were no longer offering insurance coverage because the insurance coverage was more expensive to employers than a workers salary! And young adults were discovering that the purchase of private medical coverage on their own was more expensive than rent! So even if they had a job and paid rent they couldn’t afford private medical coverage and if they had a job and purchased medical coverage then they couldn’t afford a place to live! So they were dialing home and saying, “Please send money. I don’t feel well and need to see a doctor.” Or worse, they were moving back home!

Now thanks to what everyone is calling “ObamaCare” (like it’s a new disease or something!) my daughter is covered under my policy until she is 26 and hopefully by then will have had enough time to gain employment with medical coverage of her own. However, this seems to be making people angrier in America instead of happier because many are saying that healthcare is too expensive for even America to afford!

Is it really possible that healthcare in America is now so expensive that even the United States government can’t afford it? Then who can?? And how will any of us ever be able to afford it on our own in the future? Isn’t this an example of capitalism run amok? We now have a product in America, healthcare, that everyone needs but no one can afford! And it’s so expensive that no one wants anyone else to have it unless they pay for it themselves, which of course, is impossible!

In fact my school district’s Board of Education in the last year of my teacher’s contract offered our union this: An indefinite pay freeze with a 1.5% contribution to our health insurance premiums added to our deductions and to be adjusted upward on a yearly basis. This proposal would mean that beginning in 2010/11 a teacher’s salary would steadily begin decreasing to cover the costs of insurance coverage until…what? A teacher was working for nothing? Or rather, working for healthcare?

Now consider the fact that while insurance coverage from one’s employer is a great benefit it isn’t realized in the form of money paid to me. It’s paid directly to my doctor and dentist. They are the one’s who get part of what might be my salary paid directly to them through the intermediary of a fat cat middleman insurance company and everyone’s mad at me and my fellow teachers and fellow public employees, firemen and police and government workers included! What did we ever do besides show up for work and serve the public?

We’re not the ones charging outrageous prices for your bridgework and reading glasses and anti-depressants. God forbid you ever get really sick and actually NEED a doctor or a hospital! When my daughter went to the emergency room with appendicitis recently, she was rushed to the operating room, had her appendix removed and was home in 2 days. Our family was greatly relieved and overjoyed and glad that we were in a country where such great medical care was available to us all. But the total bill for doctor and hospital was almost $30,000.00! The house that my father, mother, brother, sister and I lived in for 25 years didn’t cost that much! And I’m not kidding!         

The good news? I didn’t pay the bill. I had insurance. The bad news? How could I or any other working class, middle class, American citizen have paid this bill? Ever? And if you consider all of the hospitalization, emergency room, dental, you name it, medical events in my family’s lifetime from births to emergency room visits to whatever, the total cost must be approaching a sum that only the richest Americans could actually pay out of pocket.

When I graduated from college in 1977 and was no longer covered by my father’s insurance policy, I was able to purchase my own medical insurance at low cost without any trouble at all. Doctor’s still lived and practiced in many of our neighborhoods and some still even made house calls.    

Today, personal medical insurance is almost if not completely unaffordable. Doctor’s live in private gated communities and rather than expect house calls almost 45 million Americans have no expectation for medical care because they can’t pay for it.

How does one explain to public school students who are studying business that it’s possible in America today to have 45 million potential customers for a business, yet that business doesn’t want them? Why aren’t we graduating doctors, who by the way have to learn from teachers, from America’s finest medical schools in the world who are eager to serve and bill this untapped market of citizens who are in need of medical care? Because they have a disease more deadly, virulent and apparently contagious than cholera, small pox, AIDS and the Bubonic plague all rolled into one. It’s called poverty! And it’s a disease we declared war on in 1965! And just like drugs, it’s still kicking our ass!

Until we address poverty in America and the role it plays in all American’s lives we will never solve the problems our children and our children’s children will face in their public health and in their public education. Is this a lesson that we can learn?




7 Responses to “Compassion vs Health”

  1. Daphne August 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Great post! I used to work for an insurance company, and I’ve seen firsthand the idiocy at work. Insurance companies only want to insure people who don’t need insurance (thus insuring they don’t pay out any claims, or next to none). So the people who really NEED healthcare can’t get it. I’m lucky enough to have access to insurance – I don’t know how people who don’t have insurance cope. In my state, in order to qualify for the ‘I can’t get insurance anywhere else’ pool, you have to go 6 MONTHS without ANY insurance!! It’s red-tape bureaucratic stupidity at its finest.

  2. elroyjones September 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    My husband and I do not have insurance because we cannot afford $15,000.00 annual out of pocket before anything at all is covered. We pay for medical care as we require it and if we suffer a catastrophic I guess we’ll have to take the death option. I have a comprehensive advance directive addressing under what financial and medical condition life is an option. ObamaCare is the best thing to happen to this country in a long, long time.
    I used to work in the administrative offices of a “non-profit” hospital and was astounded by the waste.

  3. livvy1234 November 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    When I was 19, I married a doctor 22 years older than me. The year was 1968. I came from a family where my Dad worked two jobs his entire life till later years. My mom never worked. She was sick all the time with various conditions that ended usually in surgeries.
    I cannot tell you what I learned about the private lives of doctors back then, the parties, fur coats, limos, but they did do house calls, and often gave breaks on bills to clients.

  4. livvy1234 November 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    My parents married around 1930. I was born in a clinic. My parents were 18 and 20 years old respectively. They struggled, did not receive a college education from their parents, never had the time or opportunity to attend college or go back home to be cared for by mom and dad. (I have to post many times on your page to say what I want…wordpress will not grant me the option of writing one long post in one comment box…sorry for the extra posts here)

  5. livvy1234 November 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    The problem is addiction. We are a nation that needs a 12 step spiritual recovery program. I am not interested in Obamacare. I am 63, pay $330 bucks a month for Blue Cross Blue Shield and afraid to use the policy because they will raise it some ridiculous number each month. I work hard on keeping my health good, but there is no guarantees. Life is unpredicatble and I have lost faith in my country leaders…all of them are sinnking the ship.

  6. livvy1234 November 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I have paid Blue Cross Blue Shield about #700 per year over a 5 year period and am afraid to use the policy. Can you imagine that? I have a $3000 deductible for hospital and do not want to go to a private doctor for fear of raising my rates. NEVER! My entire life I was covered, did not ABUSE my health policy, and now I cannot believe how many people do. And what of the thievery going on the inside between doctors, providers, and providers…its sick!

  7. livvy1234 November 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Hit the wrong key. Somehow I cannot post on this site easily. The comment box keeps jumping up and down. LOL. I meant to say I have paid about !8 grand over a 5 year period and not used my health plan. Fear rules.

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