Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Owning the Emperor's New Clothes

For a variety of reasons I ended up having several personal exchanges yesterday, both written and verbal, regarding what has become something of an obsession of mine, health care. The biggest difference in the conversations and I was having is that every last one of them was with someone who has health care insurance.

Meanwhile back in D.C. Republicans vowed to up the pressure to defeat "Obamacare".

This morning, in an email exchange with another friend who reads here, I found myself comparing the situation to owning stock in the Emperor's New Clothes. The truth of that statement hit me, and I decided to continue here.

In the various discussions I had yesterday, one thing kept coming to the fore: the struggle to get actual care even with health insurance. If it wasn't having to research treatments and then suggesting them to doctors, then it was a case of trying to scramble to get treatment before the insurance company could succeed in dropping a patient. One woman I know was talking to me about a condition her three-year-old suffered from that was a genetic predisposition, and her two year battle to try and force the insurance company to reinstate coverage after her family had been dropped, baldly being told it was for cost issues.

Right now I focus on health care to an almost unhealthy degree. That's for a limited time period, but it seems necessary to me. The last time health care reform was focused upon, back in Bill Clinton's presidency, I did not pay enough attention to it. It made so much sense to me that I assumed it would be put into place for the greater good. This time out I've written to every type of representative out there. Not form letters, carefully composed ones in which I actually took the time to edit in order to be concise.

Yes, my son has a particular concern, and I would be lying if I said that wasn't part of what drives me, but it is a small part. The fact is that I will figure out this situation for my son, regardless of when his preexisting condition begins to truly have an impact on his health insurance. I'm fortunate, I know it. I still worry, but I understand why and how I have fewer worries than someone without as many avenues to pursue.

Having exchanges with people who are currently threatened with being dropped, and will be dropped from their insurance companies really brought home to me what a fictional construct health insurance is. You may have it, and if something goes wrong, you may be covered but it seems just as likely that an insurance company will twist and turn until they've figured out the way to shake someone making a claim. We have health insurance until we need it. It is like ordering, paying for, and then wearing the Emperor's New Clothes for everything they are worth.

When the coverage that had been diligently paid for was needed, the customer was left entirely naked, exposed, and vulnerable.

Politicians vowing to defeat attempts to reform the health care industries strike me as the nefarious tailors.

Not everyone who has had a health crisis has been let down by their insurance company. Some have received wonderful care, and treatment. The point is, the stories where people find themselves dropped should not be allowed to exist. When you pay for something, it is with the expectation that it will be there when needed, not yanked away at a crucial moment. It might as well not exist when that is the case.

It's like health care overseen by Bernie Madoff. He was very rightfully sent to jail, but word from D.C. is that they are going to do everything to protect the insurance company equivalents. It seems we have better standards of accountability for our money, than we do for our health maintenance.

From the article I linked to above:

But former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean believes that the American people are tired of the high-volume town hall attacks — and ready for a return to serious legislative efforts.

“Republicans will keep trying,” says Dean, “but I think we’re done with this. The American people are pretty clear they want a civil debate. As soon as people get back to work in Washington, they are going to work on a bill.”

Now is the time to write letters, if you are so inclined. The sometimes raucous Town Hall Meetings wore us all down. Reading that piece I was particularly struck by how individuals opposed to any kind of reform are counting on fatigue to breed apathy and having that win the day. It's deeply ironic that both are indicative of illness.


Jo said...

Alane, Canada has an excellent health care program, and we outrank many countries, including the US, according to the United Nations and the World Health Organizations. And yet I continue to read lies about Canada's health care on blogs this as this Republican blog. So good, honest people in your country are making decisions, based on such awful falsehoods.

Your country is in desperate need of a complete health care overhaul. I pray you get what you need, so that no one will suffer. In the meantime, please tell folks not to listen to the lies being spread by people who oppose health care in your counry.


Jo said...

I meant country. But you knew that... Typo typo typo :-)

Amy said...

Alane, This was a really good post - love the analogy with the Emperor's clothes! I have to admit that, after reading it, I read my policy and tried to ascertain if I could indeed be "dropped." Non-payment and false representation seemed to be the cancellation caveats. Anyway, the whole mess has taken a long time to evolve to the crisis we're in now. I really feel for your son - I have a niece who is diabetic and has been since her teens - she's told me of her ridiculously expensive meds and supplies even though she's insured through her employer, a hospital no less!

My fear is that the hysteria, fear, and uncivil discourse will continue through the Fall and then our representatives/senators will be nervous about their chance for reelection, and we know that that concern comes first and foremost, which in itself is a sad statement.

Land of shimp said...

Jo, whenever anyone puts forth a misconception about Canada's health care, I do set the record straight. That looks like a particular kind of conservative Republican blog, Jo. Luckily, those viewpoints are not indicative of Republicans as a whole.

I do know Republicans who currently feel as if they are without a party because of extreme right-wing influences in the GOP. Hence the "Blue Dog Democrat". It's so common for Republicans to cross the aisle at this point, we have a term for it.

I know how much it upsets you, and rightfully because it's not only erroneous, it's rude and ignorant. Constantly dragging other countries into it is exactly the sort of behavior that has earned tags like, "Ugly Americans".

I promise you, whenever I encounter misinformation about Canada, or any other medical system, I do refute it. I'm not alone in that.

Titling something as appealing to, or indicative of, Republicans? Does not make it so. It also doesn't make it the viewpoint of anything other than a small, fringe element.

Our politicians have stopped dragging other countries into the fray, for the most part, specifically because people in their own party called them out on spreading misinformation.

That doesn't right the wrong of doing it, but hopefully provides some comfort in the actual numbers of people who are doing it. It's an element of this debate, but thankfully, it is a fringe element.

The bulk of people, thank God, are not laboring under that belief about Canada. Extreme elements tend to be very vocal, but thankfully do not speak for the majority.

At least, particularly when it comes to the misinformation about other countries, I really hope not.

Land of shimp said...

Amy, if you hold an individual policy, then you do have the limits of it available to you, which is good. Many individuals in the U.S. are covered by group policies, and subject to group policy limits on coverage.

If a group policy exceeds the coverage limit, then the entire group, or the individual with particularly costly concerns can be dropped.

I'm not going to claim to know the ins and outs intimately, but I do know people to whom that has happened. Also, treatments you really wouldn't think of as being experimental or alternative can be excluded from coverage. For instance mental health can be covered at a fifty/fifty ratio in a lot of group policies, but the policy limit for the group on mental health, is extremely low.

That's a big problem that people run into. Here's a link to one of the reform sites, there are tons of them, and I suggest searching under that subject, but here's a link to get the process started:


Thank you both for your comments, I always appreciate them :-)

Land of shimp said...

I continued to think about it, Jo, and had something more to say.

I think all countries have very vocal groups on either extreme side of the left or right. In my experience most people are, thankfully, pretty moderate in their views.

Plus, I'm going to admit that when I clicked the link the first thing I saw was something to do with Chuck Norris (??) and that was sign number one that there isn't any way to dissuade someone from a misconception when it isn't based in any kind of reason. Facts, figures, data? Won't make a dent. It's a "believing it makes it so" that is just impenetrable.

Actually, what it reminded me of was the actor Craig T. Nelson sitting on Fox news, arguing against bailouts, and government assistance by saying (and I'm not kidding, look this up on Youtube if you want the full-frontal "Huh?" of it all):

"I've been on foodstamps and welfare in my life, but nobody ever helped me. The government never bailed me out."

And he so sincerely believed that statement, despite the obvious contradiction in his own words, it was amusing.

I guess he thinks food stamps and welfare were sent from on high? By a passing spaceship? Possibly by Canada ;-)