Sick of It

Adventures in the land of the Best Health-Care System in the Worldâ„¢:

They borrow leftover prescription drugs from friends, attempt to self-diagnose ailments online, stretch their diabetes and asthma medicines for as long as possible and set their own broken bones. When emergencies strike, they rarely can afford the bills that follow.

The article is about how you get health care if you’re a 20-something living and working in New York City. However, I suspect this is true of vast numbers of 20-somethings throughout America. And I want to emphasize that we’re talking about children of the middle class. I’m not saying children from lower-class families don’t deserve health care as much. The point is that if this were a coal mine, the canary would be decomposed to a pile of bones and feathers by now.

Of course, some healthy young people who are eligible to get health benefits from employers choose not to do so because they are foolish. But many more, I think, either don’t get health benefits from their jobs or honestly cannot afford what they’d have to pay to join their company group insurance plan.

Today, the same people on the Right who fought S-CHIP expansion tooth and nail suddenly care about young people, although not about their health. Little Lulu and some of the other hysterical shriekers are pushing “porkulus” protests against the stimulus package. Lulu’s got photos of children and youths holding signs saying “I don’t want to pay for the ‘swindle-us’ package” and “Say no to generational theft.” But when Moveon produced videos like the one, for some reason the Right was not moved.

But as Steve M says, if the Right wants to waste its time with tactics that didn’t work for the Left, who am I to complain?

25 thoughts on “Sick of It

  1. Maybe I think this way because I am a Young Person, but 20-somethings without health care isn’t really news. The New York media has articles like this published every few years; there was a much more comprehensive article in New York Magazine a couple of years ago. And, having been uninsured in New York City for the better part of 2007, I can tell you that it sucks. There are ways to get care, but these ways mostly involve public hospital emergency rooms and free clinics, and, having spent some time in one of those when I injured my foot, I know that these are not pleasant places. The public hospitals in Brooklyn are all in really crappy neighborhoods, and the waiting times are obscene. Plus, it’s such a waste of resources. A lot of people came to the ER with minor ailments and waited around for hours to get treated.

    And then I got insurance again, and none of my old doctors take my new insurance, so I have to find all new doctors. But Republicans think this is better than single-payer healthcare. Why is that, again?

  2. Erin —

    But Republicans think this is better than single-payer healthcare. Why is that, again?

    Because if we had “socialized medicine” we’d have obscene waiting times to get treatment and some people wouldn’t be able to choose their own doctors!

  3. Most of the arguments about health care are tantamount to rearranging offices in the WTO twin towers.

    The only way to fix health care is to go after Big Pharma, the FDA, health care insurers, the AMA, ACS … and to make sweeping changes in the agriculture industry (including banning Monsanto’s use of genetically modified and suicide seeds). Imagine the $billions that could be saved…

    The best health “insurance” consists of changing one’s diet to 70% or more raw foods, eliminating animal proteins, sugar, and processed foods. All we really need in terms of health insurance is Major Medical – IF we eat like we should.

    The biggest favor a person can do for their physical and mental health is to watch this video (link provided below – copy & paste into your browser). It is NOT just about cancer.

  4. If you’re not living alone on a remote desert island and you’re living in the US these ‘costs’ are costs to you one way or another:

    In 2006 we spent $2.1 trillion on health care – $7,026/person/year; 1/3 of every healthcare dollar goes to private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork – $350 billion/year; Health insurance provided by employers is money not going for salaries and thus money not taxed – upshot, in effect the American tax payers are not only subsidizing those benefits, the result is $126 billion/year less in Treasury and by way of the back door employer provided health care is a $126 billion/year government health insurance system. A GOVERNMENT HEALTH INSURANCE SYSTEM – THAT’S SOCIALISM!!!

  5. NO waiting lines in Spain that does have ‘socialized medicine’ owned and operated by the Spanish government. Single payer is SOCIALIZED insurance, like medicare. Private doctors and private hospitals would continue to give care. A person could choose any of them for his/her care. IF medicare was funded adequately, it would be as popular as it once was. The medicare advantage plans are a total failure, both in saving money for government and pleasing the elderly (opp I qualify next year) I mean the mature. Medicare’s financial problems come from the fact that only those with potential intense need are covered. If the risk pool included the young and healthy, it would be viable.
    National health care program, we should all fight tooth and nail for it.

  6. Oh, I know about waiting lines because my daughter lives there and gets an appointment the day of call or day after if call is made late in the day. Wait time in office on average, 15 minutes. Time with doctor is always felt to be sufficient. Yep!!! It is so!!!!

  7. That video is amazing, as if the Democratic party is in favor of child labor. Meanwhile, which party is actually even concerned about workplace safety issues?

  8. Michael: The video is not about child labor or workplace safety. Not even close. Did you watch it all the way through? Like, to the last panel?

  9. The best health “insurance” consists of changing one’s diet to 70% or more raw foods, eliminating animal proteins, sugar, and processed foods. All we really need in terms of health insurance is Major Medical – IF we eat like we should.

    CabinInTheWoods – I’m on it. But who in America was ever raised this way from birth? And even the healthiest of diets and lifestyles is no guarantee that one won’t get sick. It’s reallya side argument.

    There is something really wrong in a country that thinks it can afford a vast military and corporate empire but which refuses to take care of its own. As I read the post, I thought of how young people probably have never heard of a pension – which was a common benefit among my parents’ generation, but has subsequently disappeared; now healthcare is disappearing. The last panel in that video is apt, but the destruction of the middle class through disappearing benefits has been going on for a long time.

  10. As a 28 year old recent Masters grad with no job and small prospects of getting one, I can comment on this insurance issue. Due to my lack of health insurance I decided to take a course (for audit) at the local university. That way I’m covered until the semester ends. To me it was an easy decision – I need to learn how to operate the GIS map making software to get a job, so it was like killing two birds with one stone. In terms of being this age and not having insurance, most people just don’t bother because our assumption is we won’t get sick and we haven’t much money. For me no health insurance felt like I had a big weight on my back, its time to change this disaster. I lived and worked in far off Bulgaria for two years, I stepped into the hospital twice without paying a cent. The fact is people in this country have seen and heard so much propoganda about “socialist” medicine that they think it would be worse… this is simply not true. How can we let people see that it isn’t true that socialist societies are so terrible? I think a good starting place would be to encourage Americans to get out of the country more. Showing people other, more compassionate places in the world is something our society needs.

  11. Barbara, I watched the video and I was commenting on the ironic use of child laborers as props for making a completely invalid point.

  12. Michael — that the Bush Administration ran up a world record deficit that our children will have to repay is an invalid point?

  13. The fact is people in this country have seen and heard so much propoganda about “socialist” medicine that they think it would be worse… this is simply not true. How can we let people see that it isn’t true that socialist societies are so terrible? I think a good starting place would be to encourage Americans to get out of the country more. Showing people other, more compassionate places in the world is something our society needs.

    CrazyForUrbanPlanning – hear, hear. I think that day is coming, when Americans will finally open their eyes, but only after we’ve suffered enough, only when the dissonance between the constant drumbeat of “We’re Number One” and “I’m in such terrible pain!” has become too great to bear.

    I’ve read that Cuba graduates more doctors than they need, and also has more scientists per capita than the rest of Latin America. They export doctors to Latin America. They’ve also opened their medical school(s) to Americans, on the condition that they do community service when they graduate – a condition placed on all Cuban doctors. Michael Moore’s “Sicko” spent considerable time in Cuba. I mentioned earlier a fantastic video I saw of how Cuba survived Peak Oil when the Soviet Union collapsed. Answers are there, only 90 miles from our shore (and elsewhere throughout the world), if we would only take off our blinders.

    Do you folks watch Rick Steves’ travel shows on public TV? He’s big on getting Americans out of their comfort zone, and this would do wonders to open our minds to other ways of living. He has a blog (search for it) and an upcoming book about this.

  14. You people talk like you think the GOP has a problem with socialism. Actually, they are more progressive than progressives, with a twist. They want socialism for the rich.

    Earlier this week I commented that Lindsey Graham said on ‘This Week’ that he would not oppose nationalizing the banks. I was surprised. This morning I was listening to NPR and heard the other shoe hit the floor. The economist was asked about nationalizing banks as a solution and he said what Senator Graham did not.

    A failed bank is one whose liabilities exceed assets, with no prospect of getting profitable. When you nationalize that bank, the taxpayers ‘own’ the liabilities. Now here I speculate, but it’s reasonable. Senator Graham’s multi-millionare friends have realized they have paper with banks that will fail. I am not talking about insured deposits; I am talking about stock or bonds or other financial instruments that no one will buy, since the paper will become worthless – or nearly so – if the bank is shut down. So the GOP who is eager to shut down Chrysler & GM in order to castrate the UAW, is going to become soft & fuzzy & compassionate about the banks.

    Earlier this week. Geither talked about fixing the bank mess. He wants to make loans & bailouts for banks conditional on the health of the institution, which means to me, letting some banks ‘fail’ in an organized way. The deposits would be guaranteed, but the investors & other folks who invested (which is synonomous with gambled) in the banks could loose a bundle.

    Look for the new & improved socialisic GOP – coming to a bank near you.

  15. Barbara, sorry, I was under the mistaken impression this was produced by the Republicans opposing the stimulus. It’s not ironic at all for MoveOn to make this point.

  16. Let’s make Congress members pay for their own health care. If we have to pay, why shouldn’t they?
    Let’s see how far their 6-figure salaries go if they had to pay what we have to pay. Especially those of us under or unemployed. COBRA is like some kind of cosmic joke… Only I’m not lauging.

    Vote them out for change. If that doesn’t work, I suggest we sharpen the blades and storm the Bastille.

  17. This reminds me of the woman from N. Carolina I met at a party in Toronto shortly before the US elections. She told me (in a fetching drawl) how Americans don’t want socialism. And yes, that definitely includes single payer health care. I smiled and the discussion ended there. The only good news: her (Canadian) sister-in-law whispered to me as they left the party that she had voted for Obama.

  18. Yes, the rich want their profits private but they want to socialize the losses. Socialism is fine as long as it is in their favor. You won’t catch them calling it socialism, of course.

    It is amazing to me the fear that so many Americans have about socialism. What it tells me is the government’s PR campaign during the Cold War worked so well that it survived beyond the Cold War generation. Prior to that, there was a very healthy socialist contingent in the U.S., even in Congress. No one was freaking out about it back then.

    The folks who are truly afraid of socialized medicine are those who make so much money from the current system. If health care is socialized, cost-benefit ratios will be scrutinized, the widespread use of pharmaceuticals will be scrutinized, etc. Medical personnel will be expected to effect actual improvement in their patients’ health. Doctors might actually advise patients to alter their diets without losing their licences or going to jail.

    The health “care” industry today is not really much different than the housing bubble or any other bubble. It is just another legal scam that is fleecing the people and dumping the losses on future generations.

  19. Squawk! Squawk!

    Pretty Boy! Pretty Boy!

    Don’t let Goverment interfer between me and my doctor.

    Squawk! Squawk!


    bird whistle

    People wouldn’t be able to choose their own doctors!

    Squawk! Squawk!

    Pretty Boy! Pretty Boy!

  20. Excellent post. We need to include children up to age 25 under their parent’s health insurance until such time as we finally, have a system that includes the very old, they very young, the working poor and the over taxed middle class. One payer health care is the only way to go. I couldn’t believe how much execs at the largest health care organization make in a year, unf******believable, not to mention hospital execs and pharmacetical companies.

    Greed instead of compassion…where did we go wrong?

    Thank you for a great post.

  21. This reminds me of the McCain campaign’s attitude toward health care – there’s too much of it. Oh, and the government was scary and would screw things up, but not insurance companies.

    I like the new blog layout, BTW, Maha. Hope it’s working well for you.

  22. If one is wealthy or healthy, then there is litttle concern for changing the way things are. If one is not, or one’s family members are not, then one know that the Insurance companies are the ones making medical decisions- not one’e beloved chosen physician. Your doctor is only an advisor, and the insurance companies make the decisions based on what s best for their bottom line.
    Try it, you won’t like it.
    Single payer health coverage wil do more to turn around the economic crisis than any other “fix”. It is a long term benefit to the country, and would bring us in line with every other developed nation on earth.

  23. Heath coverage is a right. Full stop. This is a given in every other developed country in the world except the US. The private insurance companies in this country are screwing over Americans cos their greed is far more important than this blatant human rights violation. These insurance companies & their lobbyists in Washington need to go down now.

  24. Good point, erinyes. I have always wondered is why insurance companies have not be sued for medical malpractice when they make medical decisions that work to the detriment of the patient. Or cited for practicing medicine w/out a license.

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