Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Bor for Prez in '12": Part 2

Well, with that unseemly bit of drama behind me, the time has come for me to continue with my campaign for President in 2012. My health issues make it impossible for me to actually take office, or even actively campaign for office. Still, I get to vent my ideas of how I'd run things if I were to somehow manage to make it into "the big chair." Today's topic? Health care!

Ummm...I got nothing. That is, I have nothing that'll work. There are over 40 million Americans without health care, meaning that they can't get so much as a wellness checkup annually. That includes children. But this, of course, is based on census data, and when people refuse to get involved in the census, the data comes up short. There are people who are afraid to answer the door. There are the homeless. There are countless people not included in this vital information, so we can assume that all of the numbers are off.

The issue is so complex that tackling it is going to take a team of experts and your heavily medicated President weeks, holed up in some basement room in the White House, with them using diagrams made using crayons for me to even start grasping the issue as a whole. How do we ensure every American gets the care they not only need, but to which they have a right?

Joe Uninsured trips in his home, falls, and breaks ankle wrist. He doesn't know it's broken. He waits and hopes the pain goes away. The break heals improperly, and the pain becomes something that plagues him to the point that he musters the cash to see a doctor. The doctor now says surgery is required to fix the problem. Joe can't be turned away from a hospital due to an inability to pay, and so he is hospitalized for corrective surgery and intense physical therapy to get him going again. Even though he cannot be denied care, and the hospital knows he cannot pay, he is sent a bill that he is expected to pay. At a price of $20 per Tylenol he's given to relieve pain, you can imagine what the rest of the bill looks like. Poor Joe will need a second mortgage just to pay his hospital bill. Facing that bill will probably introduce hypertension to Joe's list of medical problems, and all we can do right now is wish him luck handling the bill for his upcoming heart attack.

I don't have one, but two insurance programs. I have Medicare from Social Security, which covers 80% of my bills. I also have ACCHS (called "Access") to cover the other 20%. I am covered 100%...on only those things both insurance companies are willing to cover. I still need an MRI of my left shoulder. My insurance companies insist on me going through an administrative dance before I can get it. First they want me to have x-rays. Then they want me to have physical therapy. Then they want a CAT scan. Then they want more physical therapy. Then, maybe - just maybe - they'll grant me the MRI. Everything before the MRI will cost thousands of dollars. Instead of coughing up maybe $1,000 for the MRI, they seemingly want to spend three or four times that amount before having it done.

My insulin has been another adventure. I should be on Humalog. This insulin starts working in 30 minutes, and is the best of the best when it comes to a short-acting insulin. They won't pay for this. Instead, they will pay for Novolin, which takes an hour to start working, and is not nearly as effective as Humalog. There is a test done on diabetics every three months called a Hemoglobin A1c. Optimally, it should be at 6, with seven the highest. Six months ago, I was a 10. Three months ago, I was 8.9. Recently, I was 8.3. When I was on the Humalog back in NY, I was a 7.2 at my best. In other words, when I'm on the insulin I need, everything improves rapidly. When I'm on the only garbage my insurance is willing to pay for, I'm in a perpetual battle for control.

I'm covered and still can't get what I need!

Quite oddly, we are an embarrassingly boastful nation. We declare ourselves the best in so many areas, and yet we can't organize national health care. "Hey, world! We have 15.3% of our people without health insurance, and we're the...uhhh...best? And those with insurance still can't get what they need! Yay!"

What's broken? Too many things to get into this one post. How do we fix the broken things? Too many options, many of which remain unknown to me. How would I fix the problem?

Well, that's why I'd need to sit down with the experts. From liberal to conservative standpoints, I'd listen to everything they have to say. If they have to bust out pie charts and break out their best monosyllabic vocabulary for me to understand the issues, so be it. Whatever the solution may be, it will likely be the one that is most cost effective and doesn't require yet another tax hike for the American people. Even when the economy is at its best, people gripe about money. Offering them medical aid at the cost of higher taxes is not really helping; it's just a new way to bring more health problems, like increased blood pressure.

What astonishes me is that there are countries out there providing national health care for ages, while we've maintained a white-knuckled grip on doing anything but what they're managing. Surely there must be a model out there we can follow, and perhaps improve upon. What are their pros? What are their cons? What are they doing right that we're doing wrong?

I have some ideas, but they probably belong in Mr. Rogers' Land of Make-Believe. I mean, one of the reasons it costs so much to see a doctor is that they have to cover the overhead of malpractice insurance. Okay...If a doctor is sued for malpractice, and is found guilty of it, then the government will pick up the tab for the payout. Get sued three times, guilty or not, and their license to practice medicine is revoked. Good luck with your new job at McDonald's.

Hmmm...I don't see many doctors voting for me.

Another reason doctors charge so much is the cost of their education. Well, provide my administration with an economic background, and if a doctor came from a poverty-stricken background, we'll pay out 50% of whatever loans you took out to become a doctor. Show a willingness to reduce your prices to see patients, and it's a done deal. Raise your prices after we pay that bill, and we'll be charging you that money again.

Okay, maybe some doctors will vote for me.

This is all coming from the imagination of a guy that never completed his education. I only have so much knowledge, and this particular issue has more facets than a diamond with a complex cut. What I recognize is my lack of knowledge, the fact that there's a problem, and that something needs to be done. Instead of standing on a platform with an imagined idea of how to fix it, I'll be the guy on a soapbox shouting, "I have no idea how I'll fix it, but I'm going to bust my butt trying to do so!" This is infinitely better than a guy coming along with a supposed plan that has no chance of working, or the guy with a plan who has no idea what's going on, but pretends he knows.

A promise made is a promise kept. The least I can do is promise to try. The most I could do is find a way to make it work.

4 comments:

morbidwombat said...

[quote]My health issues make it impossible for me to actually take office[/quote]

And why is that? I've never heard of any such restriction. Just because you'll be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces doesn't mean you actually have to run PRT every day at 0500.

Anywho, every country has their own way of handling health care, and every system has negative points. I'm just glad you didn't rant about the pros of socialized health care, like what Canada employs. It has all manner of drawbacks. I try to tell people this, and they look at me like I'm nuts.

The fact that people /need/ insurance to go to the doctor is a little wrong. The roots of that: 1) Malpractice insurance. If people who brought frivolous lawsuits had to pay the entire court fees, right after soundly being laughed out of court, that might help. If lawyers who took suck cases risked being fined/disbarred, that could do away with the problem entirely. 2) Education fees. I've never understood why college should carry with it a prohibitive cost. Making people whose paychecks are paid by taxes (i.e., teachers) tax exempt would only make sense. More tax money allocated to schools, etc. I dropped out of college /twice/ for financial reasons. Find a way to lower doctors' student loans payments, and they wouldn't have to charge so much.

Near me there are /two/ so-called "sliding-scale" medical clinics. They look at your paystubs, and bills, and if they decide you really are poor, you can get basic medical/psychiatric/dental care for cheap or free. Back when I was living in Oregon, a similar place (technically an outreach/shelter/clinic for displaced gay youth) literally saved my life. For $10. The rest of the cost is paid by some sort of government fund. If they can do this, I don't understand why hospitals, especially emergency rooms, cannot. Last time I was in the emergency room, when they asked for my info, I said "John frigging Doe. I'm poor. Fix me."

Someone named Rob said...

"Hi, folks. I'll be your CIC for the next four years. Whoops...Hang on while I pop a morphine tablet. Anyway, I'm severely depressed because of the current opinion polls. You don't have to be happy with the way I'm doing the job, just like me for who I am. But...Well, since I'm depressed, I'll be pushing all sorts of buttons today. The missiles on the east coast will be aimed west, and the missiles on the west coast will be aimed east. Let's see how many collide around the middle of the counrty, shall we?" =P

As for Canada's health care system, it did come to mind while I was writing the post, but I've heard about some of the drawbacks, so didn't feel it was worth point at and saying, "See? Their system works!" It does and it doesn't. This is the reason why I'd be willing to hole myself up with a group of experts and tell the Secret Service, "We don't get to leave this room until every mother's child has their health needs met." Food can be brought in, and we'll take potty breaks. I might - JUST MIGHT - allow naps. But when people avoid caring for themselves because they fear a bill, or can't get care because it simply remains unavailable, it demonstrates a system so broken that it deserves solid time dedicated to fixing it.

You have some good ideas, though. So once I'm in office, you can sit in on the meetings. =)

morbidwombat said...

That's why it takes more than one person to push the button. Sorry, I'm not gonna concede to the thought that you shouldn't be in charge. Bourgeoisie #*@&s don't know anything about the will of the people.

Basic needs = food, shelter, safety (of body, for the purpose of this argument.) All government funding should go these places first, before it wanders off to take care of other things. Admittedly, education and working roadways are important, but you can't learn/go to work if you're starving/freezing/bleeding. We run through a prioritized list of the needs of the people, and any left over money goes in a vault in case of emergency. We don't need to run the money dry every cycle. That's all Congress needs to do. All this frivolous "pork" bullcrap is what's going to do us in. I'm sure this is too much to ask, but it's a nice thought.

You probably wouldn't want me anywhere near the Oval Office. I'm a bad influence.

Flutters said...

Have you ever seen the Michael Moore documentary, "Sicko"...? I mean, it's basically all about your current topic here. Granted, Moore is obnoxious. That having been said, it had hot tears running down my cheeks at more than one point.