Saturday, October 24, 2009

Better than a poke in the eye

To me, the situation outlined in my last post cries out why this obscenely affluent industrialized society needs to provide basic health care to its citizens. When I spin this true story out to my Republican friends (I have a few of those), they stare blankly at me and say they have health insurance and they're not going to support any initiative that raises their premiums by one bit. Their awesome selfishness is incomprehensible to me.

There's more to the story of my family member who has a life-threatening condition she contracted from unknowingly receiving tainted blood during a necessary medical procedure. She can't get health insurance because she is approaching 60 and is unable to find any job that offers benefits. Remember, she stayed at home to raise the children and when she was in her 50s, her husband divorced her and took his work-based health insurance with him.

Republicans (including blue-dog Democrats) inexplicibly paint the Public Option as some great evil. Private market-driven forces will cure all our ailments, they say. But when I consider the health insurance industry in this country, I think collusion, monopolistic tendencies, influence-peddling, lobbying, excessive profiteering, deceptive advertising, huge executive salaries and slavish devotion to the corporate bottom line.

HMOs were going to be the answer, private organizations that found economy through efficiency. My family member also contracted shingles in her eye and wasn't referred to a specialist by her HMO until it was too late. She had to see her doctor first to get a referral to a specialist approved and he was away etc. etc. etc. One corneal transplant later, she is going blind. Hers is a typical HMO horror story.

If you read my posts, you might know that I went through half a decade of bitter divorce litigation that cost me my children through Parental Alienation Syndrome, which some people consider to be child abuse. I used to commiserate with this family member about our ongoing divorces, which were occurring at about the same time. In the desperate search for sympathy common to persons enduring divorce prceedings, we used to rate each other on the misery index.

I would say to her, But at least you still have your children. She would say to me, But at least you still have your health.

That shut me up every time.


jeanne said...

the selfishness rampant in this country is unbelievable. it's worse now, isn't it? You see it everywhere, from people who blast their stereos at every given opportunity, and DARE you to ask them to turn it down, to drivers who cut you off, or torment you if you make an error...

meanness reigns supreme. i want out.

Sunshine said...

Well said, Peter. Why are so few saying it? We're with you.

Sorry we missed you in Denver, but it really wasn't the best year to run the marathon there, anyway. They said they knew about Chicago and would have water, the course had a fair amount of shade, but it was too hot.