US healthcare is not for everyone
With Diana’s recent bout of migraines lasting four weeks, I once again appreciate how screwed up healthcare is. The first problem is that healthcare can, for the most part, only be had because of insurance, and insurance is largely dependent on having a job that provides it and hopefully subsidizes it to some extent. In a perfect world, where everyone had a job and these circumstances, that would be great, right? Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, and furthermore, kids don’t get to choose their parents or their circumstances. Make no mistake, had my kid been born to parents scraping by financially, he wouldn’t have had all of the therapy that has allowed him to compensate for ASD and his developmental challenges.
Back to my wife’s situation, she’s had a number of visits to a neurologist with $50 co-pays each time. Her MRI had a co-pay of $200. Seeing her general practitioner had a $35 co-pay, and the emergency room he sent her to had a $300 co-pay. Now we’re going a second time, for another $300 (IV infusions just aren’t available here anywhere but in a hospital). This isn’t a cut on our insurance plan, because it doesn’t really matter who is writing the policy. While inconvenient, this isn’t a financial issue for us. But now imagine that I was a worker in the local tourist service economy, making $10 per hour. We would be closing in on a grand to treat this one problem, which is a month’s worth of take-home pay for a service economy worker. That person would have to choose between financial hardship, maybe bankruptcy, or not getting the care at all.
Why are we OK with this?
The cold hard facts are that we pay more in this country per capita for healthcare than any other nation (it’s not even close), but rank 31st in life expectancy. If life expectancy is a proxy for the quality of care, then we are absolutely doing it wrong. We pay twice as much as the UK, which funds a public system and ranks 21st. America likes to be number one in stuff, but why in healthcare costs?
As much as I think a single-payer system seems like a good idea, right or wrong, my greater frustration is that we won’t even have the conversation in the United States. All of the alternatives are off the table, without any regard to their merits, because sticking with the big pile of expensive suck we currently endure is better. That’s completely insane.
If you want to wave a flag and chant “USA!” then you really need to accept that this system sucks. That means considering alternatives and having the conversations. Stop aligning with your favorite party, because this isn’t a sports rivalry. Cast aside the ideological bullshit and demand something better from your elected officials.
Originally published at jeffputz.com.