Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Health Care

Let's have a little talk about Health Insurance.

I don't have any.

I once signed up for a guinea pig study, just to get the tests that women are supposed to have every year. You know the ones...mammogram, pap smear, cholesterol check, and yada, yada, yada.

I know health care professionals who, whenever anyone mentions the Canadian or English plans, expound upon the myriad ways in which our health care is better. I'm sure it is, for those who can afford it. For me, a national health plan is much better than what I have, which is nothing.

I used to be covered by my husband's insurance, but when he killed himself, that went down the tubes. I was politely informed by our insurance company, within days of his death, that my insurance would be cancelled in thirty days. Never mind that he had paid into it for years, and not used it.

For the first time in my under-employed life, I have a job that I love. It's unfortunate that it pays very little and does not provide health coverage. Tell me, what should I do, at sixty? Quit my job and try and find something in the corporate world? How much luck would I have with that? I'm thinking zip, zero, nada--what do you think? And, even if I could find a corporate position, it would mean leaving the job that I still enjoy going to every day, even with no AC, and even after having been there for three years.

When recently discussing the situation with a friend, she asked me what would happen if I (God forbid) were to develop an illness that requires prolonged testing and treatment. There is only one answer: I would die. Not that we all don't die, and I am sixty. I'm still hoping to live to a ripe old age and just keel over, but I would feel much more confidant in the future if I had some sort of insurance. You help me out if I were to land on my ass in the driveway and break a leg or dislocate an elbow.

Never mind the grief counselling that people are telling me I "should" get. That ain't happening, either! As SSS used to say, "I can't even afford to pay attention!"

There are millions like me. I guess my health industry friends must think that we don't matter. That, for the sin of not being corporate employees, we deserve this total lack of coverage.

I don't agree. I've worked all my life, frequently in jobs that have helped others keep the positions from which they got health insurance--like child care and housekeeping. And yet, I'm several years short of Medicare, and probably won't be able to afford the extras that I will have to pay for with that.

Something needs to be done. And soon.


  1. join an artist's group called "fractured atlas" for a fee of $75/year.

    you can then get health insurance through them. they have a variety of plans
    from which you can choose.

    i think flex2000 was supposed to be good rather than choosing a hippa.


  3. Still costs $247/month, even with the highest deductible, Surf...But I'll keep it in mind, in case I get a raise!

  4. Sing it, sister! I am a -huge- proponent of nationalized healthcare. When Dean had cancer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, in all their wisdom, informed us they'd pay 10% of the bills. Surgery, chemo, any of it. Thank god we had an oncologist whose attitude was 'screw that, let's get you well first, then worry about money.' It was his office that finally beat BCBS into submission after 2 years and got them to pay they were supposed to.

    So. Uh, yeah. I'd -really- like to see socialized health care. I wish I could share my insurance with you. I spent my entire childhood sans insurance, all too well remembered.

  5. I was in British Columbia when they first started their BC Med. For something like $12/month (in 1970), Brian and I were completely covered. Another couple we knew, who had a child, paid $18/month. It was charged on a sliding scale. In August of that year, I was hit by a car, and was in hospital for two weeks. BC Med covered all but $125 of that hospital stay.

    We need a sliding scale plan here. I make less than a living wage, and there is no way I can afford $247/month, which is the cheapest I've seen for individual insurance.

    I need my yearly tests and something that will allow me to go to the ER if needed.

    I fell at work over a year ago, and my knee swelled up like a softball. It still creaks when I climb stairs. I was terrified for days, thinking I might have permanent damage. It would have been very reassuring to have had an Xray.

  6. rather than using canada as a model, i would like to see the US use france
    as a model. a friend spent 3 days in the hospital in paris and only had to pay $10.

    i am uninsured too. i dropped blue cross when they raised my premiums so high that they were half my rent.

    they were a horrible insurance company.

    it looks like fractured atlas has a free membership now.

  7. Surf, Addy had BCBS, and for her, it was very good. We did have to fight with them every once in a while, but they usually came through. The problem comes with the relationship between the doctors and the insurance. Her doctors (especially her osteo-guy) were quite happy to order every test and procedure her insurance would cover, whether it was of any real benefit to her, or not. Her internist did call a halt, eventually, to things like Alzheimer's testing--knowing that she wasn't going to live long enough for it to make a difference.

  8. And not having health insurance is socially . . . declassé. One is supposed to make some arrangement, one mustn't simply die from lack of health care, that's so Dickensian and gauche.

    My family's approach is, "well, why don't you [give up the work you're qualified for and that satisfies you] and just get a job that gives you health insurance? What's wrong with you?"

    Your only solution is to be dirt-poor, have no money, tell everyone you have no money, and let the bills pile up. Thing is, you only get care in the emergency room.

  9. Giving up one's Work is the most soul-shattering thing a person can do. To suggest that as a solution (and I have heard that, too, from comments on this very blog), and not to be considered. When my kids were small, I managed several jobs that provided us with insurance because that's the kind of sacrifice you make when you have kids. You do it without thinking of the loss, because your kids are more important than anything. Well, my kids are grown now, and I'm on my own.

  10. Sometimes I wish that those who poo-poo nationalized health care would be forced to do without their own health insurance program for 6 months or so and see how happy they are with no options.

    Something has got to be better than nothing. And I wish you good hunting in trying to find a solution that works for your situation.

  11. I'm not sure what the premium will be in 5 years for Medicare, but it's over $100 a month now, and that's an 80/20 plan, plus you have to pay the first $1,070 or something for a Part A deductible and that is only good for a certain time (I think 3 months, but it may have changed since last year) and if you are hospitalized again, you have to pay the deductible again.

    However, the good news is that most states have a QMB plan that if you qualify (you have to make less than $800 a year in SS and other income), they pay your Medicare premium.

    There are other Medicare plans that I used to sell/give away to people who were in areas where there were good networks, and they were good plans. I'm not sure if they will be around in 5 years, but if they are, you can get a better plan and pay small out-of-pocket co-pays and a max of $100 a day for a hospital stay. The most you'd have to spend in one year is $2400, which sounds like a lot, but would be tiny if something major happened.

    We'll have to see what happens to Medicare in 5 years. Meantime, don't get sick. You have a good chance of staying healthy, sans emergency. You are essentially lawsuit proof, anyway.

  12. Well, if I do get sick, I won't be able to do anything about it. I certainly make over $800! You can't mean "a year!" Nobody can live on that much a MONTH, here! I make more than that in our slowest month.

    I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens.

  13. We were without healthcare for almost 5 years. Our employers didn't offer it, and we couldn't afford private insurance, and made too much to qualify for state aid. It was scary. We paid out about $7K one year on hospital/doctors/prescriptions. We were about $500 short of being able to deduct the expenses that year on our tax return.

    As a Jew, we are taught it is wrong to profit from another person's illness or misfortune.

    Drug companies and insurance companies do exactly that - they are profit driven businesses making large profits from the illnesses of human beings. The drug and insurance industries have high paid lobbies in Washington and hold politicians hostage with PAC money which insures them of re-election if they cooperate on the Hill.

    I was an ardent Obama supporter - but truthfully, the "new boss is just like the old boss" and I am not hopeful that meaningful change can happen while these rogue corporations hold politicians in their deep pockets.

    The city of San Francisco has a working public health system that costs their citizens less and provides good coverage. Good systems exist in many venues and countries. The first step is to take the profit out of health care. If the steps are rigged with dynamite, no one will get on that step!

  14. Goldie, we have to give the man a chance. He can't fix everything in his first six months in office.

    I'm thinking we should declare open season on lobbyists. Either that, or get some of our own...

  15. I really want the lobbyists out...fat chance of that. The election system we have is broken - money controls it, and lobbyist provide lots of money.