I’m going to start this by laying down a few facts.
In the US, our Healthcare System is monetized.
Health insurance companies, private hospitals, physicians and pharmacy companies bottom line (and number one priority) is to make a profit.
When it comes to choice in Healthcare providers, most if not all Americans have none.
Maybe, if you are employed, you will be able to pick from a few pre-approved ‘plans’, but those plans are dependent on a few things, namely your continued employment with that company and whether or not they decide to keep that plan during the companies’ open enrollment.
So here’s my personal story…
When working full time in an Aviation Insurance company (in 2010) I paid nearly $450 a month for a PPO plan premium. During hospital visits nine times out of ten I never saw an actual doctor (only Nurse Practitioners).
During the 4 years on PPO, my doctors did the least they could possibly do for my health, I’m assuming to keep costs down. It was a stressful and infuriating time.
Then, my employer changed my healthplan on me. They decided they were no longer going to offer PPO, but switched us to a HMO HSA plan (to save money). It was either that, or no insurance at all.
So that was my choice that my employer said that I had. Switch over to the new health insurance or get it on your own at market rates.
That year, a few months after the switch, I had an emergency appendectomy.
One night in the hospital cost me $40,000.
I received multiple bills from that visit, and a few duplicates from the same doctors. All with different rates and no consistency. I actually had to fight my Medical Insurance company on these bills, and was charged hundreds of dollars for what were essentially 2-5 minute follow ups.
As far as my employer was concerned, I was let go at the end of the year, and had the option to switch to a Cobra plan. I don’t think I have to tell you how expensive that shit was.
Fast forward to my current life. I am living in California, and fortunately, given our fairly socialist way of divvying up Medicare benefits here, as a struggling college student I can get basic Medicare through Medicaid in California.
I’ve been on this Medicare for close to 3 1/2 years now, and can say wholeheartedly that the service I’ve gotten from The LGBT Center and through L.A. Care has been much better than the PPO I used to pay close to $5,400 in premiums a year for. (That is, $5,400 before Co-Pays and Fees and stuff. Excluding whatever my employer paid in their portion at the time too.)
So what’s my point?
My experience is just one of many. And the fact is, there is absolutely no fucking reason we shouldn’t have Medicare For All in this country. Any politician that says otherwise is most likely in the pocket of the Insurance Companies, Doctor’s Associations and ‘Big Pharma’ (I really hate using that term Big Pharma, but it’s appropriate here.)
And NOW, given the onslaught of Covid-19, we are seeing more and more people losing their jobs (and their insurance) when they need it most. Our politicians have dragged their feet and continue to do so as our country falls apart.
Our government is dragging their feet on the subject of Medicare for All because they personally wouldn’t benefit from it. Reps on the left and right side of the aisle get money from insurance companies that are essentially legal bribes. and at the moment, instead of simply expanding Medicare to the uninsured, our leaders want to expand COBRA, which would essentially cost more for everyone.
The whole situation is a mess right now. And those that make millions and hold the purse strings, don’t understand how someone can’t live on unemployment and overpriced COBRA insurance (that they might not qualify for) and $1,200 for 10 weeks (If they ever get it.).
So what’s next for us after the pandemic lock-down?
I’m hoping that people will become more vocal about progressive, people-centered politics. And that more of us understand now, through this experience, that the status quo doesn’t work for the bulk of Americans. In fact, we’re working and plugging away for scraps.
At this point I can no longer work in my chosen field, massage and bodywork, because of the virulent nature of Covid-19. All the major organisations that provide insurance for body-workers, like ABMP, either recommend or have ordered legit massage therapists to close up shop.
Even though massage therapists aren’t doctors, the ideology behind the saying, “DO NO HARM” is still taken seriously. I’m one of those, so I closed up shop a month ago.
We are in a public emergency. A WORLDWIDE pandemic. Something that most of us haven’t experienced in our lifetimes until now.
Businesses are shuttered. People have lost their jobs and their health insurance. In some cases too, their homes. Some people are getting sick and many are dying. It’s a shit show.
So, why is it so difficult to imagine offering health insurance, like the NHS in the UK? Or social programs abroad, so that that burden will be lifted for those of us already struggling?
Make everyone eligible for Medicare, properly fund it instead of stripping it for the benefit of private health insurance companies. And yes, start taxing the super wealthy and businesses like Fed Ex and Amazon.
Any half measure is pointless and a slap in the face of working Americans. And yes, that includes the bodyworkers like me.
Thanks for reading, and please take care of yourselves!
Brian aka Cuojoe
The Humble MT