14 August 2009

This Should Make You Angry

There is a lot of talk these days about the President's health care plan. One of his biggest goals, and, I think, his biggest challenge, is to reform the health care system in the United States.

Necessary? Absolutely. Possible? I hope so. Is this the right plan? I don't know yet.

When Clinton was a candidate, she said that every American should get health care, and that everyone should be able to afford it. I remember thinking to myself, the problem isn't always that we can't afford healthcare, it is that it is denied to us. Take me, for example. I left my job in early 2008, and took a contract position at another company. This meant either no healthcare -- COBRA is way too expensive at over 300$/month-- or getting my own plan. I was relatively healthy, hadn't gone to a doctor but once in a year or so because of an illness (only physicals and the like), and kept most things under control with acupuncture.

I was denied. I was denied because I had marked "yes" to history of headaches, because I had stress in my life, and had once had a prescription of Ambien because I was having trouble sleeping. Therefore, they would not insure me.

I was so angry. Both at myself -- why was I so stupid to TELL THE TRUTH on my history profile -- and at the company...who doesn't have stress?! They couldn't even give me an alternative, or a slightly higher premium? They were just going to leave me flailing.

To me, this is the inherent problem with health care -- that insurance is unregulated and out of control. And this makes me angry. I keep reading stories of people being dropped from their plans, of families not being able to get coverage because of BS reasons.

Then I listened to this episode of This American Life, Fine Print. I recommend you do, too. Fast forward to Act III, where congress discusses health care with some insurance giants. The lack of ethics by these companies will make you angry. It SHOULD make you angry. It should make you want to go out read the health care plan that is circulating through the House and Senate, and then write your representative in agreement, or with another alternative.

I listened to this over a week ago, and I am still angry. Angry on behalf of the woman in the story who was told, a day before her breast cancer surgery that she couldn't have it because she had a skin problem years before that MAY be a pre-existing condition. Angry on behalf of the people you know with insurance who are struggling to pay for care for their own cancer treatments, or their child's rehabilitative care. And angry on behalf of yourself, because it could be you in any of these situations, and you have been lured into safety thinking you have insurance.

This may be one of the most important issues we face during the course of our lifetimes. We'll all get sick. We all deserve the best care. And we all deserve not to go broke to get that care.

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