Now is Exactly Why We Need Healthcare For All

I’ve always believed that every person, regardless of how little money they may have in the bank, deserves to go to the doctor when they are sick so they can get better. If there is treatment and medicine available to ease their ailment, as a basic right, a person is deserving of that treatment. My sentiment has consistently been that we are all interconnected in this life. We are a much more stable and functioning society when everyone is as healthy as they can be, and good health begins with a right to good and affordable healthcare.

If you’ve ever played a sport, sang in a choir, or been a part of anything where your success depends on another’s performance, you know you are only as strong as the weakest person on your team. So to assure your success, you build that person up and help them to be at their very best, because it’s for the common good of everyone involved.

That’s how I feel about healthcare.  We don’t live in an isolated world. Our personal health can depend on how well the maker of our favorite sub sandwich is or the stranger we high five at a baseball game.

As I write this, the first American to die from the coronavirus has just been reported. We have yet to realize how fast this virus will spread in the States, but there is not a more telling time than right now that demonstrates just how dependent we are on the health of others.

It is to the benefit to us all that people who are sick can go to a doctor and get better.

 

 

 

 

 

The Republican’s HealthScare Plan

It’s been three weeks since the U.S Presidential election gave us Donald Trump as President. The shock that a man with no military or government experience will be leading the most powerful country in the world, hasn’t subsided much. And the sting of having such a hateful anti-gay man become the country’s Vice President-Elect, hurts as much today as it did the morning of Nov 9.

The last few weeks of hearing the announcements of Trump’s cabinet has been horrifying. I’m not going to run through them right now, rather, I think each person deserves their own blog devoted to them, because that’s how terrifying they are. A lot of space is needed to show just how scary these appointments are. So I’m not going to talk about Steve Bannon…yet.

The man I want to concentrate on right now is Tom Price. Trump has selected Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Price has been wanting to dismantle Obamacare since 2010, when the law was signed. Donald Trump talked a lot about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, and it looks like he found the man to do it.

If you are sick, old, or poor you should be very afraid. I know I am. Although I am fairly young, I am also very-fairly sick. I undergo treatments that stabilize me, and they work very well, but they are expensive. I know I am not alone. Many people (too many) suffer from diseases and illnesses they need to rely on medicine/treatment to get along each day. That’s why, when our leaders talk about healthcare, I listen very carefully. And every word that has come out of a Republican’s mouth about healthcare has scared the shit out of me.

An article (click on link below) on http://www.msn.com about Price and the changes he wants to make to Obamacare is frightening. After reading this, I have to ask, why do Republicans hate old, sick, and poor people so much? Is it all Republicans, or just the politicians? I know many Republicans personally, and most are not like this, but this is the party they vote for.

Here are some pieces of the article:

“Just as is the case under Obamacare, people with pre-existing medical conditions or chronic illnesses couldn’t be denied coverage under Price’s approach — provided they had continuous insurance for 18 months before choosing a new policy.”

So Price will keep the no denial for pre-existing conditions because he, and most Republicans, know that people really like that. (Which bears noting we wouldn’t have that clause if not for Obama.) Why do we like that? Because we don’t want to fucking die!!!! If we get cancer or Parkinson’s or a fucking tumor, we want to know that an insurance company can’t deny us or charge us extra because they’re a bunch of dicks. (Pardon the explosion of curses. It’s what happens when you have a disease and politicians with cushy government-provided healthcare start talking about gutting healthcare for us minions.)

I have a huge problem with for-profit healthcare, but unfortunately with Republicans at the helm, restrictions Obama had placed with insurance companies are going to be void, which means less protections for the common people. You know, the ones Republicans don’t give a shit about.

Under Obamacare, it was pretty straight-forward that one could sign up for insurance, during open enrollment, and pick a plan, whether you had cancer or a hole in your head, you were covered without prejudice. But under Price’s plan, insurance companies will be able to deny you coverage, if you had no prior health coverage for the previous 18 months.

Get that? The continuous coverage clause bullshit. Lost your job and could only afford two of the three: rent, food, or insurance. And you choose to eat and have a bed to sleep in every night, but three months later you develop cancer, and now really need insurance. Screw you, Buddy. Pray away your cancer because Republicans just denied you access to healthcare because your insurance lapsed.

“In one of the biggest blows to poor and low-income Americans, Price would repeal the expanded Medicaid coverage in 32 states and the District of Columbia for able-bodied single people and leave those current beneficiaries to fend for themselves on the open market, using other tax credits and benefits.”

Yep, they really hate them poor people. But if that’s not enough:

“Finally, the Price proposals would foster an insurance market very welcoming to young, healthy and financially self-sufficient people but hostile to sicker and older people. For one thing, it would eliminate Obamacare-style mandates for insurers to include a standard package of benefits such as maternity services and pediatric care and allow them to offer cheaper, less comprehensive policies to younger people who are looking for a bargain.”

Price, like most Republican policies, favor wealthy people and big corporations over the working poor or middle class – no matter how much they try to spin being otherwise in their speeches. With Obamacare, insurance companies were mandated to offer basic services stated above for free or very little cost. Price will do away with that and give insurance companies the freedom to charge as they want without a mandate to offer even the basics of service.

Wow, that sounds really great for the people! (Shaking my head in disgust) I’m betting many of those who voted for Trump will soon realize they voted against their own self-interest. If you don’t have millions of dollars in the bank, you voted against yourself. If you’re sick, you voted against yourself. If you rely on any form of government assistance, or government programs, then yes, the fuck you did vote against yourself.

Big time.

The sad thing is, those of us who did vote for our own self-interest is going to suffer along with you because you guys didn’t do your homework. You believed the fake news sites that were overwhelmingly pro-Trump, because most people like their news spoon-fed to them. No one wants to look up facts anymore.

The only thing that gives me some solace is Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote by over 2.4 millions votes so far. That’s unheard of in modern times.  I hope if Republicans, even with their new governmental powers, try to pass policy that hurt the most vulnerable of people, that we stand together and make a lot of noise.

Remember, there are more of us than there are of them.

Power to the People.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/healthcare/8-big-changes-under-tom-price%E2%80%99s-obamacare-replacement-plan/ar-AAkXhse?li=BBnb7Kz

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I am Scared…..Tremendously

I don’t work in the healthcare field. I’m not an expert in healthcare issues, but I am a person with health issues, and the way the healthcare system is set up in this country scares me – tremendously.

It was ten years ago when I became a “no longer healthy person”. Before that time, I went to doctors for mild reasons, in search of quick fixes to temporary, benign illnesses. I usually walked out of my doctor’s office with a prescription and 5-7 days later, I’d be back to normal. Healthy again. Living my life with the expectation I wouldn’t see my doctor again until another bug was caught, and another antibiotic prescribed.

Like many people who develop significant diseases spontaneously in the midst of their life, my pattern of going to doctors has changed. I no longer wait until my perfect health is temporarily hijacked by a nuisance bug to see a doctor. I am now on a schedule with my doctor. Every three to six months. Sooner, if I need. But no longer than six months. Got to be kept tabs on when your health is compromised in a, more than likely, permanent way.

Although I didn’t have much experience with doctors, and hospitals, and medical procedures when I was given my diagnosis, I was, however, very much aware of the term pre-existing conditions and its implication.

And it scared me – tremendously.

Luckily, I was working and had insurance. But I knew my disease was complicated enough that it may interfere with work. As doctors told me the treatment plan for my disease, the medications I must take, and all the procedures that were needed, I called my insurance company with a panicked heartbeat, praying everything I had to do was covered.

This scared me – tremendously.

Lucky for me, everything was covered. But that didn’t end my worry. What if I lost my job because I couldn’t do my work at the same level? I could never afford insurance on my own, and besides, no insurance would touch me because I now had a pre-existing condition.

I worried about  one day being without insurance, but having insurance didn’t stop my worry, either. Multiple hospital stays in the ICU for over two weeks each visit, racked up huge bills. My insurance paid everything minus the deductible, but I had a lifetime limit on my insurance of about five million dollars.

To a healthy person, that may seem like a lot. But when you’ve already spent over three hundred thousand dollars from hospital stays, and monthly treatment costs over twenty-thousand dollars, those millions go by fast. According to CNBC, in 2013 bankruptcies from unpaid medical bills was the number one cause of such filings. They also found “15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills.” (CNBC) 

When Obamacare came out and ruled that insurance companies would no longer be able to discriminate against people with illnesses, and offer them coverage, I was morbidly relieved. I was assured that even if I lost my job for whatever reason, as well as the insurance benefits that came with it, I could be picked up by another insurer, despite my illness.

This was huge. I was no longer tremendously scared.

Not only did I no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage, thereby being left to die in the streets with no insurance, but President Obama also eliminated the lifetime limit. That was huge too, because hospitals charges are unfairly astronomical.

But now, insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare because it seems covering sick people is just too darn expensive, and since the United States, the most powerful and developed country in the world, has a for-profit health industry, profit is the bottom line. Sick people be damned.

I’ve heard regular people, people who don’t work fancy jobs for insurance companies, talk about the situation as if it is perfectly normal. “Of course the insurance companies had to get out. They were losing hundreds of millions of dollars!”

Yes, let’s feel sorry for the insurance companies making billions of dollars in profit, as well as their CEO’s with their tens of millions in annual salary. These companies that are pulling out of Obamacare are still going to make billions of dollars in profit at the end of the year, but they may not make as much as they did back in the days when they only insured healthy people, while leaving the sick ones to fend for themselves or die.

For the first time insurance companies had to cover sick people and it cost them too much money, so now they’re out.

We should be outraged. Covering sick people in healthcare should be the norm. Where’s the healthcare in denying sick people coverage? The people at the top, filled with their greed, are laughing their asses off at the sheep we have become. Profit over people is a horribly immoral way to run a healthcare system.

I am, once again, scared – tremendously.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Way to Go, Kentucky…You Just Shot Yourself in the Foot

On Nov. 3, 2015 the state of Kentucky held a gubernatorial election. Republican Matt Bevin, who ran a campaign based on the promise to destroy Medicaid expansion in his state, was elected the new governor of Kentucky.

The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, covers the poor, uninsured Americans who didn’t before qualify for Medicaid, but do under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. According to Kentucky.gov, as of 2013, over 300,000 Kentuckians became insured under the expanded Federal Medicaid health insurance program.

But on Nov. 3 the people of Kentucky voted. And Bevin won.

Now, the people of Kentucky, including the ones who voted for him, are worried they will lose their healthcare.

But, wait a minute. Didn’t I just write that the guy ran on a platform to destroy Medicaid expansion, thus taking insurance away from people?

Yes, I wrote that. And yes, making people uninsured was his promise. And yes, he still won.

I read an article, written by MSNBC journalist Steve Benen, about a male and female Kentuckian, who are currently insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion,  yet voted for the politician who vowed to take it away.

Here’s what the man had to say:

“[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands,” the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die.”

Here’s what the woman had to say:

“If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem,” Botner, a community college student, said…”Just with the blood tests, you’re talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance.

Why the hell did these people vote for a man who clearly wasn’t looking out for their best interest?

“I’m just a die-hard Republican,” the woman said.

Those are choice words because sick people do ‘die hard’ when their health care is taken away from them.

The article goes on to state that in one specific county in Kentucky, where most people are signed up for Medicaid, the majority of those people also voted for the guy who openly shared his plans to take it all away.

As I read this article, I had a real hard time understanding why people would make themselves vulnerable like that, and risk losing their health insurance, especially if they’re sick. And then I read a quote from an Owsley County judge, and it became oh so clear.

The judge said:

“To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance.”

Okay. Got it. But still.

Gay marriage doesn’t directly affect anyone’s life, but the people getting married. Abortion is a personal choice a woman makes for her own body. But that too, doesn’t directly affect anyone else’s life.

Yet, the risk of losing one’s health insurance took a backseat to gay marriage and abortion.  And why shouldn’t it? It’s not like health insurance directly affects one’s own life….oh wait.

I want to empathize with the Kentuckians who voted for Bevin, I really do, because I hate seeing people suffer. But it’s so hard to feel sympathy for them because all I want to ask is, “How can you guys be so stupid?” and “Was standing up against gay marriage and abortion worth compromising your health?”

It’s really simple, people.

Stop voting against your own self-interest.

Bevin takes office on Dec. 8 and Kentuckians will find out if their newly elected governor will make good on a promise many hope he will not keep.

Until then, Kentuckians will just have to hold their breath and pray for the best. But don’t hold your breath for too long, your oxygen levels will go down and your carbon monoxide levels will go up, and soon, you may not have the insurance to cover that.

You can only blame yourself, as well as the heartless politician threatening to take it all away.

 

If you’d like to read he full article by Steve Benen, please click the link below.

 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kentucky-voters-create-big-problem-themselves

When Will it Stop Being About the Money?

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For a long time our healthcare in this country (US) has operated more like health(s)care. This is not a reflection of the doctors or nurses who invest so much of themselves into helping sick people get better. I have had the great fortune of having wonderful doctors with tremendous bedside manners watch over my health, as well as caring and devoted nurses who have made my time spent in hospitals as comfortable as one could hope for.

The problem with America’s healthcare is the system. It’s all about the money, and when the bottom-line is always priority, sick people lose. This is a sad and dangerous sentiment when we’re talking about people’s lives. Those who need their medical treatment and medications to keep their hearts beating, or their lungs filled with air, never really have a decent night’s sleep because they know if God forbid they, or their spouse, loses their job, and subsequently, their insurance coverage, they will never be able to afford the outrageous price of insurance on their own.

No one can be assured the next job they apply for will have good insurance. Strong health benefits, as well as pensions and 401(k)’s, are slowly disappearing from employers’ packages to workers. There are many claims that companies like Walmart are deliberately cutting weekly employee hours so their workers won’t qualify for health insurance. Why? Because Health insurance is expensive and, like everything in business, it’s all about the money.

Up until a few short years ago a person could be denied insurance coverage just for being sick. Pre-existing conditions is what they called it. Insurance companies didn’t want to offer insurance to people who might actually have to use it. So the unlucky millions of Americans who had the audacity to get sick while not having insurance, (didn’t matter if they lost their jobs through no fault of their own like a company closure, or mandatory lay-offs) those individuals were deemed “uninsurable.”  At the same time, a stigma was placed on people without insurance as being “irresponsible freeloaders.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, health insurance was a hot topic (still is) because President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Yes! Obama Cares! Thank you Republicans for a great nickname). I remember vividly Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. Mitt Romney expressing their opinion that people needed to keep continuous insurance coverage to assure coverage when they suddenly got sick. The issue of hard-working people losing their jobs, and not being able to afford programs like Cobra, never came up. If one couldn’t afford high premiums it seemed to be their own fault for being poor.

Obamacare gave us some well-needed regulations in the practices of insurance companies. One practice Obama put an end to is the pre-exisiting conditions clause. Insurance companies can no longer deny a person for being sick. Alleluia. My only wonder is why the hell did the American people put up with this kind of a system anyway? Obama cited watching his mother fighting with insurance companies when she was diagnosed with cancer as his motivation for taking on the healthcare in this county, and thank God he did.

How many sons, daughter, wives, husband, mothers, and fathers watched their loved ones die because either insurance companies denied them, or the companies had found ways not to cover the treatment needed to save their loved-one’s life (yes, insurance companies were (are) very good at finding reasons to deny certain procedures).

Why did it take so long for something to be done? Easy. Insurance companies are powerful. According to ThinkProgress.org, United Health Group made a profit of 2.1 billion dollars in 2013. Two billion dollars buys a lot fancy lobbyists with plenty of incentives to offer members of congress to vote for policies that favor insurance companies.

Insurance companies are powerful, and, when standing alone, people are weak, but standing together…?

I don’t know why we, the people, never stood together as a country to put an end to the greed that lines CEO’s pockets off the backs of sick and dying people. It’s quite repulsive when one imagines a wealthy CEO making hundreds of millions of dollars a year (base and stock options), flying in private jets with all the luxuries, while a family huddles around the bedside of a dying loved one who possibly could have been saved if not for the unscrupulous practices of some insurance companies.

When sick people are deemed “undesirable”, a lack of human compassion is expressed when decisions and policies are made that affect sick people’s lives.

Take the profit out of healthcare. A single payer system is what we need.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net