Where Personal and Professional Life Collide...

My life in 8 words: Organized chaos, by preference. Exhausting, but never boring

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this is not a political post. it is a post about what we are, and what we choose to stand for.
truth to power
ETA: READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT: As I said, this is not a political post. It is about putting people above money, about taking care of a real and ongoing problem.

However, Suri's Law is in effect. If you want to disagree, then come in, the discussion is open. If you come in with insults and "neener neener"-level arguments? You will be shut down. If you say anything that could be considered threatening, you will be reported. Please, sign your posts - don't be a coward about what you believe. Nobody takes "Anon" seriously.


There is a move afoot in the nation -driven by the GOP - to repeal the new health care laws, to protect corporate interests, to defend against fear-mongering (and stupid) cries of "socialism!", and to ensure that people are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads or getting necessary health care.

This movement is killing people.

Think I'm overstating the fact?

Ask the friends and family of writer/reviewer Melissa Mia Hall, who died of a heart attack last week because she was so terrified of medical bills, she didn't go see a doctor who could have saved her life.

One person. Not the only one. That could have been me. Yeah, I have access to insurance -- I live in New York City, which is freelancer-friendly, and have access to freelancer advocacy groups. Through them, I can pay over $400/month ($5,760/year) as a single, healthy woman, so that if I go to the hospital I'm not driven to bankruptcy. But a doctor's appointment - a routine physical - can still cost me several hundred dollars each visit. So unless something's terribly wrong? I won't go.

Someone who lives in a state where there is no Freelancer's Guild or MediaBistro to put together an insurance plan for freelancers? Someone who has been laid off or downsized, and can barely make ends meet? SoL.

That could be you. That could be your best friend. That could be someone you've never met. That could be any of us - because there are people out there who think that taking care their neighbor is someone else's problem.

No. It's our responsibility. All of us, together. As a nation.

EtA: Nobody is trying to put insurance companies out of business. They will always be able to offer a better plan for a premium. We simply want to ensure that every citizen - from infant to senior citizen - doesn't have to choose between medical care, and keeping a roof over their heads, or having enough to eat.

We're trying to get this to go viral. Pass it along:

I won't watch another friend die because they can't afford healthcare. Save the Affordable Care Act! http://ow.ly/3QAD7 #ForMMHall #HCR

EtA: guys, I don't mind you using my wording. But if you're going to quote my specs above (about being a freelancer) you might want to specify it's not YOU talking, but me. Better yet, delete that part and put in your own story.

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Hell, I *have* employer-provided healthcare, and it's such shit I'm all for reform. In the endless churn to get cheaper care they keep changing policies and I end up without the proper paperwork right when I really, really need to see a doctor for an emergency (back when I had food poisoning a couple years ago and the spider bite now. Maybe my new card will show up in *tomorrow's* mail, ya think?)

Health care needs to be AFFORDABLE and UNIVERSAL.

I have employer healthcare that's really quite good, and it's one of the things tying me to this job. I simply can't afford to leave, even to explore a really good business model and plan, because I can't manage without healthcare.

I destroyed my right knee last year, and I nearly bankrupted myself even paying my copay. My parents, both staunch Tea Party-leaning Republicans, still don't understand how I can support affordable universal healthcare, even after that. It boggles my mind.

I'm not advocating for complete socialized healthcare and free plastic surgery for everyone, people. I'm advocating for a baseline level of care that ensures that everyone can get appropriate preventative care, and that an accident or emergency will not bankrupt a person or force them to go without care. You want more coverage beyond that? Go right ahead and buy it.

I am self-employed, and just spent 5 days in the hospital after surgery. Because I can't even begin to afford insurance due to cost (blood condition [which doesn't need treatment!]and arthritis/family medical history), I delayed going to the ER for three days. It's a shame that I had to make a choice between excruciating pain and (likely) eventual bankruptcy to get treatment. I certainly understand why Melissa waited, with fatal results. This is intolerable in a "civilized" country. [I could say much more, but it would devolve into a rant, so: support the Affordable Health Care Act and let your legislators know!

I wouldn't cry a river if the for-profit insurance companies went the way of the candlestick makers.

While the bill as-is wasn't what I really wanted, it's sure a lot better than what we currently have. Maybe if all of those Tea Partiers got kicked off of Medicare and had to fend for themselves, they'd have a better appreciation for what this bill does.

Spread the word - post the links far and wide. Let your congresscritters know you support the bill, that you're watching what s/he does -- and that you're willing to put your voting muscle behind your beliefs (actively working for/against, not just voting). That's how we can get something done.

I have no insurance. Last Thursday when I slipped and hurt my left knee, I didn't go see the doctor until it wasn't better four days later. The doctor thought I had torn my cartilage and wanted to do x-rays and/or MRI, but I couldn't afford them. The doctor wanted me to use a leg immobilizing brace, but I couldn't' afford the $300 price tag. She could only give me prescriptions for generic anti-inflammatory and heavy duty pain medicine. This clinic has a discount for cash patients. It still cost $90 just to see the doctor and $19 for the pills.

Signal boosted on my facebook.

Edited at 2011-02-05 03:35 am (UTC)

I hadn't heard about Melissa -- oh, God. First Robert Legault (LJ just "helpfully" reminded me his birthday would have been soon, now -- thanks, LJ...), now her. It could be any of us next (including me, as you know).

Just because of last year and spinal surgery and the broken humerus, even with insurance we pay hundreds of dollars a month for, we are delving into the very, very last of our retirement savings. Nothing left after that. What will we do? I have no idea -- I guess we can't afford to do anything other than let the bank take the house and hope we die fast.

*sorrows* to be the one to tell you, and in that way....

I was desperately sorry to hear about Melissa.

Very few people in this country (UK) understand the issue about 'socialized' medicine (especially that 'death panel' claim, which is an outright lie). We have a national health care system (I know you've had a bad experience with this, Laura Anne, and it certainly isn't perfect), but it does mean that if you feel you ought to visit the doctor, you don't have to think twice. The prospect of going through a serious illness AND having to worry about whether or not you can pay for it is something that I find truly appalling and almost beyond belief in the modern age.

Just to clarify, the 'death panel' claim isn't one anyone has made on this thread, obviously - I'm referring to the one that came up in the media some years ago.

Retweeted. I am so very aware of how this could have been me, too. My parents decided to buy me insurance, which is the only reason I went to the endocrinologist who diagnosed the pernicious anemia that went far enough I'd sleep 24 hours at a shot and developed peripheral neuropathy.

Reposted - when you have the time, please let me know I've got the attributions correct.

kadymae referred me here.

I am a Canadian and I consider the idea of anyone being compelled to live in this kind of fear anywhere on or off this planet to be Obscene. Worse, there are those among my fellow citizens who would roll back the health-care clock in such fashion as to restore such Fear to everyone in my country.

"This movement is killing people." I thought the President asked us to back off from vitriolic rhetoric that might incite violence?

First I would point out that you've been taught for some years that if you can find anyone who will be perceived as victimized by a policy changing or staying the same that you automatically have the moral high ground and cannot be questioned. This isn't true for a number of reasons, the most important is that anyone can find "victims" on any side. If we need to hide behind victims our argument probably lacks merit.

The same fight has been going on for half a century with the same agenda. That speech should be heard or read in full. Too many today don't realize they are tools to the same authoritarian agenda.

"Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program."
"One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it."
"James Madison in 1788, [...] I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations. '"
"it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. [...] And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.
This is a freedom that I wonder whether any of us have the right to take from any human being.
[...] From here it is a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay and pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what they will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell them where he will go to work and what he will do.
In this country of ours, took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place [...] for the first time in all the thousands of years of man’s relation to man [...]established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God given right and ability to determine our own destiny.
This freedom was built into our government with safeguards. We talk democracy today. And strangely we let democracy begin to assume the aspect of majority rule is all that is needed. Well, majority rule is a fine aspect of democracy, provided there are guarantees written in to our government concerning the rights of the individual and of the minorities."
"behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country. Until, one day, as Normal Thomas said we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”

Health care and health insurance need reform. Competition, tort reform, zero tolerance of fraud and so much more. This unconstituional system set up by Democrats may make people feel good but solves nothing while expanding government into every aspect of our lives. That was their only intent. If it stands it is just the beginning. If one desires to leave this land of Liberty for one of socialized medicine I wish them well on their journey. BUt their efforts to destroy this shining city is a movement that really is killing people, and will kill many more when Democrats realize their dream of government controlling our health care.

Shorter Melvin Udall: "I have mine, so screw the unwashed, uninsured masses."

I for one welcome our incoming socialist overlords. I wish I lived in Vermont. I love Bernie Sanders.

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Sorry, suricattus, I am afraid I'm going to feed a 'bagger troll.

I hope you, melvin_udall, remember this claptrap and pile of excuses when you have to file bankruptcy because you can't afford to pay the doctors to save your or a family member's life.

Talking about people dying or being killed isn't violent rhetoric, talking about shooting them or "eliminating" them is. If you don't understand the English language well enough to know the difference, I must assume that you were home-schooled by idiots.

It is very obvious that you live a life of privilege: young, healthy, white, male, privilege, with privileged parents, and nice safe little jobs. Too bad the majority of this country doesn't.

Come talk to me about the "evils" of socialized medicine when you've had to tell your spouse, yet again, that you can't afford to get her dental treatment (or medical treatment) because you're both un/underemployed, uninsured and can barely make the rent.

Otherwise, take your tea party blandishments and "I got mine" attitude that claims to be about "freedom" (to suffer and die, only) and stick it where the sun does not shine.

Don't give me the usual teabagger tripe about "bad decisions" and "responsibility", I'm so sick of hearing it I could puke - because it's patent nonsense. Bad things happen even if you make all the "right" choices. If you don't understand that much about reality, crawl back into your privileged little hole, stick your fingers in your ears, and pray to your god that your life doesn't go down the crapper in spite of having made all the "right" choices.

You make me sick. You have so little empathy that you should not be counted as normal - you have the conservative disease of "me, me, me" wrapped in corporate lies and the flag of fear of socialism.

You know how they used to say a conservative was a liberal who had been mugged? Well, a liberal is a conservative who has been screwed out of real healthcare.

Oh, and on your little "if you don't like it, leave" crap? Why don't you leave if national healthcare is so onerous and evil to you? There are plenty of libertarian paradises, places without laws and regulations, minimal government, that would welcome your special brand of distaste for your fellow citizens, and curious definition of freedom. Liberia is one, although it may be a bit ethnically different for your tastes.

Edited at 2011-02-07 02:17 am (UTC)

I stopped reading when I realized you didn't even manage the intellect to reply to me.

The situations described in the OP are poignant. And the examples of people suffering are very real.

All of this *does* support the sensible conclusion "we can do better."

*None* of this, per se, supports the conclusion that the government should take over health-care (be it by single payer, socialism, whatever you call it.)

It simply says "we should try to improve" - it does NOT indicate which method of improvement is better.

To support the conclusion that government should control or manage or single-payer-ize health care, you have to demonstrate that by nationalizing/socializing/single-payer-izing health care, things would get *better* not *worse*.

Not all change is for the better - just saying "things should change" does NOT mean every change is a good one.

To determine what changes would be improvements, we need further evidence. And if you look at countries which do have a more government-central bureaucracy-ridden health care system - countries like Britain - you find that, on the whole, they are WORSE.

That is the EVIDENCE.

Now, can you find the occasional example of a situation which would do better under the British or Canadian system? Of course. Random examples are not proof. You can find examples of just about anything, on just about every side of just about every question.

If you look at the systems *AS A WHOLE* however, giving the government control over health care makes these problems WORSE, not better. That's the evidence of history - that's the evidence of the European system, where MORE people suffer from unavailable healthcare as a result of governmental centralization.

The argument from the right, thus, is NOT "oh, things aren't that bad."

The argument is "Yes, the situations you describe are tragic. There should be improvement. But if you give more control to the government, then there are going to be MORE of those horrible situations, not fewer."

To which the right adds, "Moreover, you'll stifle the economy and bankrupt the nation, which will, indirectly, create lots of additional problems as well."

Nobody disagrees that the system needs improvement. Nobody disagrees that there are examples - lots of examples - where people who need care can't get or can't afford it.


That's also not the question.

The question is *HOW* to make the improvements. The question is whether Obamacare, taken as a whole, does anything to solve the problems, as the left contends, or, as the right contends, whether it actually makes no improvements (at best) or makes the situation even more dire (at worst) and runs the economy and dollar even quicker into the ground in the process.

A reasonable discussion may be had on that question. Go for it.

But let's try to avoid the situation where people - on EITHER the left or right - try to substitute hand-waving and hand-wringing for actual discussion: where either camp says "things are bad so we have to implement MY solution."

That's not an argument. That's not a debate. That's not rational.

If your solution is better, *show* that - by economic analysis, by parallels where a similar solution as been tried and succeeded, etc. Make the case.

Otherwise, if you urge people simply choose *ANYTHING* other than the status quo for no reason other than that the status quo isn't ideal, you run the very real risk of getting something WORSE.

And that doesn't help anybody - including the people in the heart-wrenching situations described in previous posts!

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The "insurance-as-a-for-profit business/denial of coverage" is another discussion entirely, as is what to do when the companies don't pay up. Bringing that up now distracts from the basic original point: that American citizens do not have access to affordable health care that every other civilized nation takes for granted, and people are in fear of losing their homes if they get sick/dying because of that fear.

{why people are so freaked out about this boggles me. I bet you intend to take your social security check, don't you? How about unemployment payments? Do you use your local mass transit/roads? Those are all based on the same principle of "tax-supported to maintain the human infrastructure" If you want to go back to subscription-supported services, you should read up on the history of how poorly that actually worked....even leaving the fraud & corruption aside]

And yes, I did my homework, thank you. The cheapest I could have gotten was cheaper, yes, but it offered significantly less coverage at a higher deductible. So it would have been a false economy. And at that, it was open only to people who matched a very specific requirement, so not "available to everyone."

(Please, everyone: if you want to make your point, don't start off by treating those who disagree with you as idiots. It's very bad debate protocol.)

There are options for health care and other services if people do their homework

There are options, yes. If you are below a certain income, if you are part of a particular group, if you live in a specific state (CT has a decent plan, for'ex, assuming that you can get on it). However, to say that they are available for everyone, everywhere, and that they actually work for everyone, is not only simplistic, but wrong. Again, this is our point: a single payer option, offering a basic level of care for everyone, is the simplest, most direct way of ensuring that nobody goes bankrupt/dies because of their health. Additional/better coverage would be available to those of us who want it, via private companies, who could then continue to make a profit off playing the odds that more people will stay healthy than become terminally ill. And that's exactly what insurance is: companies betting the odds to make money.

Oh, don't get me started on for-profit health insurance right now. I would kill for a system that alleviated all of this worry and stress, because said worry and stress are not helping any of the problems. You know it's bad when you actually have to work doctor copays into your monthly budget.

Of course, I'm actually using my health insurance, so they're not exactly profiting from me. Of course, using my health insurance has also nearly bankrupted me twice in the last year, so I completely understand where Melissa was coming from in her reluctance to go to the ER.

For the record: major depressive disorder; underlying anxiety disorder (both require medication); and now mystery condition that is causing sleep disruption, lowered immune system, chronic aches all over, and impaired cognitive ability. Current working theory is Epstein-Barr, but I think that's theory #3 in the last month of doctors and tests. I'm just waiting for the mildly bulging disc that was discovered in my cervical vertebrae in 2006 to go up. That would just be the icing on the cake. Like I said, doctor copays are a part of my monthly budget.

I don't know if this applies to you, but it could and that's why I'm posting the information. There is a US-based patient assistance program called RX Outreach. You can get all sorts of medications in their generic form delivered to your home for relatively little money. Your income would have to qualify, but that's it.

Here's the Eligibility page.

Number of People in your household, Including YourselfAll States and Washington D.C., Except Alaska and HawaiiAlaskaHawaii
You Less Than $32,670 a yearLess Than $40,800 a yearLess Than $37,620 a year
You + 1 Less Than $44,130 a yearLess Than $55,140 a yearLess Than $50,790 a year
You + 2 Less Than $55,590 a yearLess Than $69,480 a year Less Than $63,960 a year
You + 3 Less Than $67,050 a year Less Than $83,820 a year Less Than $77,130 a year
Add this amount for each additional person*$11,460 a year$14,340 a year$13,170 a year

* For example, if six people are in your household, your income must be less than $89,970

a year ($67,050 + $11,460 + $11,460 = $89,970).

The formulary is here. It changes every once in a while, but still covers a variety of illnesses. The cost is not calculated based on the number of pills you need. For instance, I took nine Neurontin a day, and for three months' worth I paid $25. I hope this helps you.

I'm not eligible, no (I earn enough to keep me out of every eligibility program, which is a mixed blessing indeed) but others might be, so thanks.

But it still does nothing for the majority of the folk who are considered "middle class" and are still getting slammed by medical costs, to the point as discussed in the original post. The idea that it's only lower income folk who are being damaged by this shows a woeful lack of understanding of the immense financial costs, say, of being diagnosed with cancer. Try talking to Jay Lake on that topic....

And for those who think that having health insurance will protect them once they get sick....

seachanges talks about her own experiences.

Linked. (I'm weird about total reposts.) The ACA saved my tooth this Thursday; I think I am a little in love with it. Okay, a lot in love with it.

The system we have worked fine fifty years ago (unless you were black and not allowed in the hospital) back when 9 out of 10 Americans were basically healthy and unions kept wages paced with inflation. Now we live in a society where 6 out of 10 Americans are basically unhealthy, one of them from genetic bad luck and the other five from unhealthy lifestyles, and union jobs are a big export. So we have companies making money ruining our health and other companies making money selling us our meds.

Don't you think it's strange that "6 out of 10 Americans are basically unhealthy..." in this age of genetically manipulated food crops and so much reliance on "immunizations" that are touted as salvation from disease, but about which we know pretty much nothing?

When I was a child, Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine to prevent dreaded (and rightly so) polio epidemics. My parents were asked their permission to have my sisters and me inoculated, which they gladly gave. That may have saved our lives. Now parents are ordered to have their children receive a full range of vaccines before the kids will be allowed in school. But life-threatening diseases are up (not the childhood threats, but things like heart disease, diabetes, etc), and the incidence of autism is up from maybe 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100.

And insurance companies and the medical establishment, including Big Pharma, are making big fortunes from the misery of the masses.

Long story short: I am not so sure all of this sickness is entirely from unhealthy lifestyles (too much of the wrong type of food, too little exercise, too much stress and not enough rest...). It could also be from incompetent production of vaccines with disastrous side effects that are "conveniently" not taken into account by their pushers providers.

That's another aspect of single-payer universal health care I yearn for: removal of the profit motive from the creation of medicines that currently are rushed into availability without proper investigation of what they actually do.

More in the War on Women

Have you seen the GOP-led proposed cuts to Title X for family planning and other health services for women? It's aside from health care reform, but the topic is a part of it, IMO.

I used to have employer-provided health care and between how little I made (I was a saleslady at Dillard's) and the cost of the meds I needed, even mitigated by the insurance, I wound up taking them every other day instead of every day like I was supposed to and even then I couldn't pay for the next one. I wound up having to go back to the doctor because I was sick again (so sick that my usually cold-hearted manager sent me home). He gave me some samples and told me to take [over-the-counter thing]. Which I could barely afford.

Since then I've married my high school sweetheart and he's gone back into the military. I've been able to get help for not just that sickness but even counseling and medication for my anxiety and depression. I wish the whole country had access to something like TriCare. It shouldn't take a loved one taking an oath to die for the country if needed to get the care I'm getting...especially when TriCare itself has been weakening for a few decades now and from what I've heard (I desperately need dental work but I'm afraid of the cost), United Concordia, the dental folks for military dependents, is "a joke."

D: D: D:

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