Tag Archive: health care


For a woman who doesn’t have health insurance through my employer, is past childbearing, hasn’t met a sperm in person for about 30 years, and isn’t much affected by religious organizations, employment-based or otherwise, I sure can get my shorts in a bunch when it comes to the “should a religiously affiliated organization cover contraception” debate.

First of all, YES! they should. And their whining about offending their religious sensibilities really doesn’t track with me.

My main reason? that health insurance coverage? that’s not some gift bestowed by the company on the employee. That’s part of their pay, their compensation for the job they do.  It makes no more sense to me that the church (or church affiliated group) can dictate how a woman can use her health insurance than how she spends her paycheck once it lands in her very own hands.  Are they going to restrict her from buying contraception with her pay? of course not. Well, I suppose they might WANT to, but they basically can’t, and shouldn’t be able to.  Health insurance, being compensation for work done, should be exactly the same: if the coverage is offered in the plan (which it would be under the ACA provisions), the employer has no right to draw back on that compensation.

Second, plenty of religious organizations have no spiritual or dogmatic issue with contraception coverage.  Are we supposed to treat some religions different than others?

And third… well… seriously? This is the line in the sand these organizations are going to draw? With all the threats around the world, and even here in this Christian-friendly nation,* of actual harm to actual people, you’d think the churches might find something a little more meaningful to focus on. I’ll throw out a liberal handful: hunger, poverty, education and war spring easily to mind, but there are plenty of other things that would seem to trump the faux outrage over shelling out some bucks for health coverage that women will just use their paychecks for anyway.

*sigh*

This is why I don’t “do” religion.  Oh yes, there’s that problem where I don’t believe in deities, but the big one is the silly fits some believers wind themselves up in trying to defend silly extrapolations of religious fervor.  Once again, I am reminded of Woody Allen’s line from “Hannah and Her Sisters” – if Jesus came back right now and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.


 

*yes, I do not believe in the war on Christianity. Big surprise, huh?  I don’t know, what with it being the most common religious affiliation, and what with all of DC going Christmas-crazy every year, and the whole economic cycle being tied to the Christmas celebration cycle, and churches getting tax breaks, and prayers over congress, inaugurations, and what have you… well, I’m just not convinced somehow.

…while “pluralism” depends on mutual respect, it does not require deference to other people’s private authority figures.

via Political Animal – The Liberal Catholic Complaint, by Ed Kilgore

The contraception fight is in full swing: will the Bishops box the government into carving out special considerations for the Catholic church? What line are the Bishops asking the Obama administration to step across? And how will crossing that line affect people who, while they might respect the Bishops, grant to special authority to them, let alone cede the authority of the U.S. government to them.

I think Kilgore’s quote draws the line quite nicely.

18 August 2009

What a mess.  The health care debates have become so cumbersome, so entangled, that for moments here and there, my brain sees nothing but a kind of fog, and haze of issues and terms and talking heads and bizarre signs held up at ridiculously chaotic Town Hall rallies.  If the fog clears, what’s left is a horrible spaghetti of words and intense passions and close to home issues like will I be able to care for myself if I get really, really sick.

So, spaghetti strand by spaghetti strand, let me try to sort this out.

First of all, it’s not just one big health care issue.  It’s a combo of health care coverage for more people, health insurance industry reform, and quality of care.

One the biggest issues, in my most humble opinion, is the quality of care issue, tangled with a somewhat separate issue, the cost of that care.  We have a weird mix of the best and worst of health care in this country; certainly it could be better.  We have amazing technologies, and at the same time people dying because we can’t get health care for them.   In the current debate, this has become a side issue (except for when Canadian and British health care is invoked as some kind of demon of the health care world compared to our supposed perfect and superior system), but to my mind, it’s an important one.

Whatever the quality, health care costs wildly too much for most people’s incomes, and for reasons which are their own little knot of noodles in the spaghetti bowl.  Deferment of the cost of caring for the un- and under-insured is part of the mix, health insurance charges is another.  For someone like me, health care and health insurance are literally unaffordable, and like many, my health plan is simply to stay as healthy as possible, and stock up on a lot of cheap home remedies, like good aspirin and thick wool socks in the winter.  But insurance? out of the picture.  The insurance companies do not offer plans which fit in my budget.  And if they did, would they cover my ongoing problems with allergies, lower back pain, bursitis, and the start of arthritis?

Ah, yes, the insurance companies.  Another tangle.  Do they really need to charge so much?  And if they do, can it change from supporting outrageous profits, mass ad campaigns and the Gucci Gulf lobbyists, and instead put money into covering people who actually need to pay for their care, instead of booting them off for getting sick, exceeding unrealistic limits on coverage, or for enrolling in the program with health issues in the first place?

And, oh my, the employer issue.  Another topic which is barely discussed right now in the face of people screaming about the very existence of health reform bills.  Our insurance, if we have it, generally comes through our employer, and does this really make sense?  I get it that the employer can support the financial burden of health insurance as part of an employment package, but should the employer be picking (or changing, or dropping) our health insurance for us?  Can’t we separate financial (and hopefully pre-tax) contribution, and whether it’s the employer or employee who picks the actual insurer and the medical professionals they will reimburse?

Which brings me to choice, and rationing.  Lotsa bitchin’ going on right now in these discussions (or rants) about how health care will be rationed if Obama gets his way.  My first thought upon hearing about how the gov was going to ration health care (and I’m only now seeing it reflected in the media) was that we currently have rationed health care, because of how the insurance companies restrict the options we have, or cut off care, or eliminate people from their rolls.  My thought?  Maybe the government would play more fairly, which is why I like the public option.  The health insurance industry has certainly proven that it can’t, or more likely, won’t play fair with their customers.

Okay.  The Public Option.  Quite frankly, I’m a bit confused by its details, but my basic understanding is that we’re talking about a Medicare-like insurance system which the government administrates, in order to reimburse private health providers for their services.  Again, sounds like a system that might actually play fair, hopefully for both clients and providers in the system.

My limited understanding is that the objection to this sensible-sounding system is that it will sponsor the big bogeyman of capitalism, UNFAIR COMPETITION (!!!) to the poor, beleaguered health insurance companies:  read, lower profits to the executives.  Bring on the violins!  God forbid they should have to take one less European vacation, buy one less yacht or suffer through a summer with only one vacation cottage (of approximately 12,000 square feet, of course).  My god, they might have to fire a nanny, or a gardener.  They might have to sacrifice that $15,000 gown for a humble $3,000 outfit for the next banquet or ball or dinner out with the hubby. 

Obviously I am not sympathetic.

I think it’s fair to ask, should health care even be a source of profit?  Does it make sense for private companies to profit from the disasters of disease, injury and congenital health issues?  I’m not saying that people in the health insurance industry should be poorly paid (though that is tempting…) and certainly health care providers should be able to make a decent income.  But, in the case of the health insurance execs, does it make sense for their average annual income to be more than 11 million apiece?  Can’t they live on less, say a mere half million or something?  There is something seriously out of balance when execs are raking in the dough at the same time as they are denying coverage, kicking people off their rolls, and generally charging so much that average people can’t afford to keep or even buy into health insurance.

And speaking of bogeymen, as I was a couple of paragraphs up there, what about this socialized medicine issue?  Does the proposed health care reform really resemble a socialized systems, or has the right just thrown the label around because it’s scary, and the word “communism” has been so overused that it’s lost it’s punch?  And if the label socialism applies, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Let’s go to that ever-ready source for the modern info seeker, Wikipedia:

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, public or common worker (through cooperatives) ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation.
[emphasis mine; links lead to Wiki articles]

Gee, sounds utopian.  And the part of our health care system which resembles this the most is that of the military:  completely government run, with the state owning the facilities, employing the workers, and basically providing the whole health service to folks who themselves are government employees.  Medicare sort of qualifies, to the extent that though it is administered by the government as a single-payer system, but the health care itself – doctors, hospitals, treatments – are privately held and operated.

Enough spaghetti!

So, I’ve identified quite a few strands in my glop of noodles:

quality of care
health care costs wildly too much
the insurance companies
covering people who actually need to pay for their care
the employer issue
choice, and rationing
The Public Option
UNFAIR COMPETITION!!! (or not…)
should health care even be a source of profit?
socialized medicine

Now, I just need some sauce…

And, by the way, we’re not going to put grandma in front of a death panel.  I didn’t want to include that in my list of issues, because it’s patently bizarre, but JUST IN CASE, let it be known that this flaming liberal doesn’t support death panels.

I do, however, support a big improvement in health care.  Let the noodles be untangled!

7 August 2009

Thanks, Steven Benen for mentioning this great quote in the Washington Monthly blog, or I wouldn’t have bumped into it.  It’s from a post of Michelle Cottle’s

"I have given up hope for a loyal opposition. I’d settle for a sane one."

Like Cottle, and Benen, I too am sick of not having a decent Loyal Opposition in the mix.  The range of political opinions holds check on each other, left middle and right.  Progressives drive the country forward, working to accommodate our ever-more-diverse, and hopefully less prejudiced society.  Conservatives, when they’re not being too extreme, tend to offer cautious, limited options.  Centrists tend to articulate the middle ground, helpfully.  If it works, the three hold each other in check, moving forward more carefully through the years, and, we hope, more successfully as a nation.

However.

When the edges – left or right – go off the deep end, articulating extreme opinions, or rage without reference to fact, the balance of public discourse is thrown off.  That’s what the recent spate of crazy shouting matches at Town Hall meetings feels like to me:  an opportunity for a public meeting, a community Q and A, where people can air their questions.  But when ten or twenty people start shouting at everyone who tries to speak up – people up on the dais, or their fellow citizens in the audience – there is no possibility of public discourse.  It’s not helpful.  It’s not useful.  It doesn’t move anything forward.

It only adds insult to injury when the accusations coming from the Shouters are based on falsehoods, be it Obama’s Kenyan birthplace, the Government’s going to kill old people, or the altogether toooo amazing “Get Government off My Medicare!”

*sigh*

Yup. A sane opposition.  I remember when…

21 July 2009

Today, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about Obama’s proposed health care reform platform.

Her question found me at lost for words.  Not that I haven’t thought about health care, and  health care reform.  Believe me, every time I feel a suspicious ache I think about health care.  I have none, you see, and can’t afford any, and so aches and pains are an open question. A not-well-planned for question.

But I don’t really look at actually acquiring health care coverage.  I can’t fork over three or four hundred bucks a month for it – and being 50, I’ve noted that the few among my contemporaries who are buying health insurance are indeed forking over several hundred a month for the privilege of having something like 75% of their potential  medical expenses paid for through insurance.

Now, it’s not that I have no health care coverage.

First of all, there’s workman’s compensation.  For injuries while I’m being a "workman" of course.  Should I be injured on the job, I’m covered, at least up to some sort of cap I haven’t really bothered to investigate.

And then there’s the car insurance.  For a few bucks a month, any (human) body damage endured due to a car wreck is covered.  Good, yet small comfort.  Particularly because there’s yet another cap once I hit some high water mark on medical bills.

So, as long as I’m working or in my car, I’m okay.  Hmmmmm…. So, anyway, back to my friend’s question.

Though I haven’t been tracking every detail of the health care debate, I am not unaware of the changes to health care being proposed by the White House and members of Congress.  I am not unaware of the potential, the great advance this would offer to our society and our financial crisis, and I do not believe that some kind of socialist system will sneak in.  It’s pretty hard to label something as socialist when the plan is to create a competitive market for health care options.  Competition, market… sounds pretty NON socialist to me.

But in my situation, with absolutely no money to spend on health care other than  out-of-pocket, nickel and dime expenses, all I can hope for is that the Obama administration can push things that much farther, getting closer to a time when I can afford basic health care.

I won’t get it during this term, or most likely the next, but eventually all the struggle around something I cannot afford will ripple down to me in some form of cheaper options.

I hope.

We’ll see.

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