People Who Don’t Want a Public Option Have Never Been Ill

(originally posted on LiveJournal)

I almost titled this post “People who don’t want a public option are stupid.” But they’re not. As far as I can tell, none of them have ever been really ill, or suffered from a disability. I’m angry, so that makes me want to say mean things. I don’t really believe they’re stupid. I just don’t think that they understand.

Health care is not a privilege. It is a right. Even the prisoners at Alcatraz were entitled to “medical attention”.

Insurance companies should not be allowed to deny anyone coverage. If they want to charge people more money because of “pre-existing conditions” then, fine, I guess. But they shouldn’t be allowed to deny coverage entirely.

Medicare should be available to everyone.

Only the doctors who actually see their patients should be allowed to decide what drugs, procedures, or tests a person can have. No insurance company, or insurance company reviewer should be able to say “No, you don’t get that”. I don’t care how experimental a treatment is. People should not be ill, in pain, or dying because a person who has never met them denies treatment. And frankly, I don’t care if the operation is a bone marrow transplant or a boob job. I’d rather cover the few who want surgery to make sure that the many who need surgery get it.

I do have a strange illness. If I wanted to use Social Security Disability Insurance, even at my worst, I would have had to fight tooth and nail. I couldn’t walk, yet I wasn’t technically disabled, because SSDI doesn’t recognize CRPS as an illness. I had to keep my job because I needed the health benefits. Those benefits wouldn’t cover my pain doctor, so I paid $100 out of pocket every time I saw him. They only covered 8 physical therapy visits, so I had to pay out of pocket to do that as well.

It is absolute bullshit that benefits follow where you work. I’ve said it before – my work’s health plan is woefully lacking. They won’t cover my main medication, which is $800 per month. Competition isn’t going to change that. Why? Because the drug is a very controlled substance that only one pharmacy in the US is allowed to carry. It’s also developed by a company called “Orphan Medical” which makes drugs for uncommon diseases. CRPS and narcolepsy, which is actually what the drug is for aren’t common, so no one wants to make drugs – there’s no profit in it.

We have coverage through Max’s COBRA right now. If Max gets a job, it better have good benefits. He can’t take a job that offers Kaiser only. (Kaiser being an HMO.) I wouldn’t be able to find a doctor to treat me, and my $800 med wouldn’t be covered. I’m going to have to fight to get my medication approved, because it’s an off-label use. There are no drugs approved for the treatment of CRPS, despite the fact that it goes back to the American Civil War (when it was called causalgia).

I take offense at people who say it’s the hypochondriacs and fakers that are driving up health care costs. Again, that’s bullshit. The way the system is set up, insurance companies have to make money. They make money by denying care and coverage. So, even people who have health insurance can’t get the care they need in a timely manner. I was lucky to be diagnosed within months of being injured. I was lucky that most of the procedures and drugs were covered, and that we could afford (albeit barely) to pay for the doctor and drugs that weren’t. People who have cancer are being denied treatment. Jack’s birthmother’s son was turned away for an MRI after a seizure. He ended up having an 8 minute long seizure that has caused permanent brain damage and blindness. (She has private insurance, and Iggy had Medicaid or state insurance.)  A good friend of ours was trucked hours away from her home when she went into labor prematurely. She had to go to an “in-network” hospital with a NICU.

Health care companies should not be allowed to operate for-profit. We need a public option. We need care like France and the UK have. There is one complaint that I’ve heard about the UK that does bother me – apparently, mental health care takes forever to get. We’d need to work on that. Of course, right now, US insurance companies restrict or deny mental health care as well. (And forget about physical therapy.)

Oh, and about Americans being fat and lazy. Our government subsidizes the growing of corn. Therefore, high fructose corn syrup, which is a very bad sweetener, is far cheaper than sugar, which is not nearly as damaging. HFCS has been linked to diabetes, it can contain mercury (because of how it’s processed), it’s stored in the body differently than regular sugar. It is truly the worst thing for us. But it’s cheap, so we buy it, and we eat it. Look at the labels, and you’ll see how many products have HFCS in it. Bread!

We’re also poisoning ourselves with all sorts of chemicals. Parabens and other hormone disruptors are stored in body fat. The average American gains 5 pounds per year because of parabens.

Certainly, Americans need to exercise more, but when are we going to do that? We have one of the longest work weeks in the world (although our productivity isn’t the highest). We don’t offer affordable, dependable, quality child care. It’s all about hurrying up and buying more. But that’s a whole other post.

And speaking of statistics, we’re #180 on the infant mortality rate list. Cuba is better than we are.

Government run health care actually makes sense if it’s run right. It improves infant mortality rates, it improves the health of its citizens. We need it, and just because we have it, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Even single, childless people pay for schools. We all pay for the police, the fire department, the libraries, the post office… We all pay for wars to go and kill people. Why can’t we pay to make the people in our country well?

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