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Musings on Health Care

Just curious – has anyone who opposes a public option for health insurance also come out against the concept of public defenders?

You know, those suspected of crimes have the right, spelled out in the Miranda warning, to be provided an attorney at government expense if they cannot afford one. So, criminals getting taxpayer assistance for their defense is fine…sick people getting taxpayer assistance to save their lives isn’t?

I have a lot of thoughts on this, and they may be rambling. Bear with me.

Just over twenty years ago, I had testicular surgery. I was living in Ireland, and while I’m not sure of the specifics, I am fairly certain it was at least partially government subsidized.

Four years ago, I had appendicitis, in Los Angeles.

Would you care to guess which experience was the friendliest, cleanest, most efficient, least bankrupting of the two?

Think about that. Ireland TWENTY YEARS AGO beats L.A. now.

But that’s anecdotal. By itself it proves nothing overall. Nor, perhaps, is the fact that I’ve never met someone who got seriously ill and was satisfied with how the insurance handled it. Cathy Seipp, as pro-private insurance as anyone, found that when she had cancer, her insurance company tried to renege on parts of its deal. This didn’t shake her faith in the system as it ought to work, but it does seem to be more the rule than the exception. Others will point to horror stories about waiting lists in Canada and the UK, and limited supplies, months before treatment, etc. To which I would add: and that DOESN’T happen under our current system?

Again anecdotally: I sat around in a doctor’s office for at least six hours in the worst pain of my life, as my appendix ruptured, before anyone would give me anything to dull the pain. First an intern examined me, then two nurses, then a doctor, and then the pharmacist acme with the pills. All took their sweet time. I would have sucked Osama Bin Laden’s cock to make that pain stop.

Oh yeah, and the ambulance people who picked me up warned me they were gonna charge me for the ride, and I should get a friend instead. Again, as I’m suffering from something that would have killed me if left untreated.

But why is it government’s obligation to pay for this? Well, why is it government’s obligation to send firemen over for free if your house is burning down? Or track down a guy that robbed you, gratis? Hell, why should they defend you from an invading army, even – buy your own damn tanks and planes! Second amendment, y’all!

We have no qualms with saying government should protect us from external threats. But internal ones, somehow we don’t give a shit about.

Critics say we don’t want health care run like the DMV or the post office. Have they been to either lately? I just went to get my driver’s license renewed, and was in and out in less than 30 minutes – very efficient. My local post office has trouble handling the volume of customers, but I go to one slightly further away which doesn’t. I’ll tell you, the post office beats the bejeezus out of DHL or UPS, both of which have given me large headaches in my lifetime, and are privately owned, allegedly with a good competition profit motive.

DMV and post office are 1000 times better than the bureaucracy at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, too. But you may have guessed that by now.

I have a friend who proudly talks about sleeping on a door back in the day, while still paying for health insurance. Do we really think that’s a good thing, a society in which people are forced to sleep on doors to make their medical bills?

And then a few years back, an acquaintance rather sleazily wrote about me in a backhanded kind of way on another blog, suggesting that anyone with a big toy collection shouldn’t be bitching about health insurance. Newsflash 1: My collection isn’t worth that much. Newsflash 2: I spend maybe $50 a month on toys, at most, and usually less. Show me a health insurance provider that offers me that same price.

After I got fired by OC Weekly, I was offered COBRA, a service which lets you continue employer-based health insurance at full price. It would have been nearly $600/month, something I could not have remotely afforded on unemployment checks.

I don’t want government to “monopolize” private health care. If you can afford a private room and personal 24-hour physician, by all means do. But forcing the rest of us to pay bankruptcy-inducing prices for the basics ain’t gonna fly.

As it stands, if I ever get a serious illness, I will probably move to England. I don’t especially want to do that, but I won’t have a choice.

And about this argument that if government has a stake in health care, it will then force you to eat healthy foods…

(a) No government in the world does that.
(b) So what if they did? I’d roll with that. Listen, I am a drinker, but I don’t oppose extra taxes on booze, or extra restrictions on it. I know from experience that when it’s harder to get, I don’t get it. I don’t believe in criminalizing stuff like that, but restricting it a bit, well…there really are more important things to complain about.

I’m glad that we actually have a president who came out of poverty and knows a little bit about it, as opposed to the spoiled rich brat; now I just hope he doesn’t see compromise as a virtue above righteousness.

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2 comments to Musings on Health Care

  • Your arguments put the case quite mildly – if you had been treated in France – as a British citizen you would get even better treatment entirely free, due to their wonderful health insurance scheme.

    it is that model everyone in the USA needs to look at – our own NHS may be brilliant compared to many but the French system is better.

    my worry with Obama is not the determination he has to make your health system better – its the massive and mega-wealthy pharma/medical/insurance complex that is up against him. Their advertising and lobbying power is so huge (thanks to all the rip off insurance and drugs they sell), that people are brainwashed into thinking there can be no other way.
    Get to France – a country that has had more military victories than the USA could ever dream of, and where people know what cheese is…

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  • MAJK

    Love this Luke. Exactly what was on my mind this week. You took the words outta my mouth and put them down on a blog and stuff.

    I agree with Offpat too, it’ll take alot to pry shit away from those Greedy bastards hands. And many conservatives simply fear that this will lead down a slippery slope, even if a public option is not included!!

    These types of debates are exactly why I consider myself a liberal.

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