Our F*cked Up Politics of Healthcare

You want to hear something sad? Just the other day I read that starting August first, women will be guaranteed an annual wellness doctor visit without a copay. Last week at my post-baby doctor visit, my doctor wanted to schedule me for wellness visit in six months, just to make sure everything was fine, and I intentionally put her off, wary of the copay (especially with the upcoming prospect of having to pay for daycare for two children). So when I read about the new requirement, my immediate thought was “good, I can schedule that doctor visit after all!” My next thought? “I better schedule it for January, because if Romney gets elected that requirement might soon disappear.”

And my next thought was, what the f*ck kind of country do we live in that this is my mental process??? But this isn’t the first time. Let me share some other examples.

I am going to have an IUD implanted for birth control purposes now that my baby has been born. Well, our insurance doesn’t cover IUDs unless they’re for medical purposes rather than contraceptive purposes (I know, right?). However, being low income (graduate students and all that), state medicaid will pay for me to get an IUD, so long as it’s within two months of the baby’s birth. Now starting January first, all insurance plans will be required to cover contraception, and without copays, including IUDs.

So with all this in mind, I had to decide whether to get the Mirena IUD or the Paragard IUD. One major difference is that the Mirena lasts five years and the Paragard lasts ten years. I was asking my doctor about which I should get, and I said “well, I don’t know if my insurance will cover getting a new IUD in five years – oh wait, the new requirement will make it so they have to – except, what if Romney is re-elected and they repeal that requirement?” I asked my doctor what she thought about this, and she said “at the moment, I wouldn’t count on anything.”

It’s just wrong that current politics, rather than simply medical pros and cons and my doctor’s recommendations, has to play a role in my decision of which IUD I should get.

You want another one?

When I started blogging at FreeThought Blogs, and then at Patheos, one perk over my previous Blogger blogging is that I now get paid. When making this switch, I had to consider the possibility that we might lose our children’s health insurance. See, because we’re low income (graduate students and all that!), our children are on state medicaid. We could not afford their health insurance otherwise – adding them to the health insurance plan we have through the university would cost $4000 each. But we only qualify for state insurance if we earn less than a certain threshold. If we pass that threshold, even by a few hundred dollars, we lose the state medicaid and suddenly have to pay an extra $8000 if we want our children to have health insurance. I ran the numbers and we’re not anywhere near the threshold, so we’re fine. But how wrong is it that I had to think about that? If we had universal health coverage, we wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility that increasing our income by a couple hundred dollars could increase our expenses by eight thousand dollars.

But wait, there’s more!

When we first talked about having a second child, we took all the expenses into account, including things like daycare and health insurance. We figured out that we could pay for daycare, but not for health insurance. But, with the state medicaid program for the kids, we wouldn’t have to worry about paying for health insurance. We ran the numbers multiple times, especially given how expensive daycare is (seriously, look it up sometime!), and decided we could afford it. But now I hear house Republicans are considering cutting funding to the medicaid program that covers my kids. This wasn’t something we considered when we looked at having our second child, but it’s too late now, so I guess all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope the Republicans’ current headlock on American social policy comes to an end sooner rather than later.

So. How have the current debates over healthcare brought politics into your doctor’s office lately? What stories do you have?

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • 1000 Needles

    Great post! I’m a freelancer with no health insurance. As a self-employed person, there is simply no way to justify the cost of health insurance with the meager benefits that any cheap plan would provide.

    I ride my bike every day, and I’m fully aware that one ht-and-run or one illl-timed lapse in concentration could leave me bankrupt. It’s bullshit.

    I’m approaching the age where cancer screenings are a good idea, yet such a routine checkup would likely cost more than a few month’s rent.

    Anyway, sorry for ranting in your space. I can’t imagine having to hear the TV talking heads and Christians discussing my health and my body as if getting the medical care I deserve is some evil, imposing thing. I have no doubt that it takes strength, courage, and fortitude to be a woman in this country right now.

  • Sierra

    I have seriously considered (and not ruled out) deliberately going abroad before getting pregnant so that I won’t be subject to the insanity of the pro-life movement. My greatest fear about pregnancy is being incapacitated somehow and waking up in a Catholic hospital where my life is not the primary concern.

    • WordSpinner

      That’s one of the things I’m afraid of, too–though you have to be careful where you go, there are Catholic hospitals in some non-US countries too. *Sigh* I really wish the US culture allowed us to criticize religion to the point where we could say, “You know, having lots of hospitals run by an organization that doesn’t believe in basic medical care for women is maybe not the best idea.”

      • Christine

        We have a Catholic hospital here in town, but despite the fact that abortion is a contentious issue in Canada too (partially because of American spillover, I admit) I’ve never heard any worries about it. Now, this might be connected to the fact that the hospital lost it’s maternity ward (It was never officially said that this was because it refused to perform abortions, but if you look at the timing it’s pretty obvious), but I’ve never heard complaints from other locations either.

    • Anonymouse

      A very dear friend of mine is Dutch, and I was recently ranting to her about my terrible health care. She’s astounded and appalled at our system. For example, in Holland there is a 155 Euro cap on medicine per year; once you’ve paid that, you’re done paying for the year. I pay more than that every MONTH to manage a medical problem caused through medical negligence.

    • jemand

      Honestly, this fear was part of what went into my decision to get a copper IUD. I’m not even sexually *active* this last year and it STILL has given me so many tremendous benefits– all entirely psychological in that at least I am, since I already have it inserted, a tiny bit buffered from the terrifying political attacks against women’s bodies lately.

      But on the other hand, all medication of course has some risks, it’s just infuriating to me that the physical risks of the IUD to me, are so small compared to the psychological risks the political system has assayed against my mind, that even if I didn’t intend to have sex for the whole decade, I *STILL* would probably have decided, personally, that the IUD was worth it.

      • Liberated Liberal

        I’ve seriously considered getting my tubes tied once and for all based on the nonsense going on in this country. I’m HORRIFIED about not having any of my own choices in the near future.

  • Elise

    My husband is military–and I get physically ill AT the doctor’s office. See, I get free health care just because a military servicemember fell in love with me (and I with him, of course!). But as a community college prof, I regularly see people whose lives are governed by health care choices, and who suffer more illness because they couldn’t afford to take care of a regularly minor one.

    It’s inexcusable. I’ve lived in Canada and Europe, and know that universal health care works. Even the US military has universal health care. My poor–literally–students even pay for my healthcare. It’s unjust. How could I not get sick for everyone else as my needs are met at their expense?

    Thank you for bringing this into the public, Libby Ann, along with others who are telling their stories. Again, universal health care works. Even the US has a working universal healthcare system through the military that also covers spouses and children. IT WORKS!

    • Dianne

      You know who else has their health care provided by the US government? Congress. Yep, Congress. They’re trying to deny the American people the insurance they enjoy. And remember, a lot of congress people are old. They live long lives partly because of the excellent health care they receive.

      • Elise

        Disgusting, isn’t it? I am glad that under Obamacare, congress will be required to use the healthcare exchanges set up by the states. What I like about it is that it may be good “insurance” that the exchanges remain high-level.

    • Christine

      Healthcare issues is one of the big reasons that I’m completely behind my husband not wanting to move the to States (for religious reasons in his case). Either I’d spend all my time feeling guilty about actually having access, or we wouldn’t have access (less likely with professional jobs).

      That being said – without private health insurance, birth control is out of pocket. (It’s considered prescription medicine). I guess if you wanted surgical solutions they’d cover part of the cost, but if it wasn’t in conjunction with a C-section I believe you have to pay part of it. The catch is that health insurance is a lot cheaper here. I believe it’s under $3000 to add me AND my daughter to my husband’s student health care plan (and he pays significantly less than that). And because it’s a student plan it pays 100% of birth control (at least oral contraceptives, which I believe some people can take without problems), even though it’s a very basic one (didn’t cover anti-nausea meds during pregnancy, for example).

  • Dianne

    Well, our insurance doesn’t cover IUDs unless they’re for medical purposes rather than contraceptive purposes

    I don’t know where insurance companies’ collective brains are sometimes. Even ignoring the obvious ethical issues and considering this question strictly as an issue of cost containment, an IUD is much cheaper than a pregnancy. Why encourage women to do something that will cost the insurance company a lot of money (have more children)? From the perspective of the supposedly cold, hard, rational businessperson whose only agenda is to make some money, at whatever human cost, this makes no sense. I think there may be an anti-birth control agenda within your insurance company. Or maybe just complete lack of foresight on the part of the people making these decisions.

    • jemand

      Oh, I think it’s partly a business decision. Once, when people worked at the same company for the majority of their working lives, it would make sense to calculate out in advance the consequences of covering or not covering a service. But NOW, most people switch jobs very often, and not really willingly, given the rates of layoffs. And she is a grad student, probably employed with a lot of other grad students, who are going to finish their programs and go off in the world and be insured by *other companies* because as soon as they leave their programs their insurances end.

      So NOW, there IS a legitimate business decision to be made, that unfortunately often DOES save money, to assume that costs incurred 5 years from now will be born by another insurance company or an uninsured individual. Whereas, otherwise, the age group to be in grad school is an age group that probably would otherwise like to get an IUD, but NOT pregnant.

      • LPBB

        That is the calculation insurance companies are using, but I still think it’s short-sighted and penny-wise/pound-foolish. According to the promotional materials I got when I had my IUD inserted, they pay for themselves within two years, by saving the cost of monthly prescriptions. Yes, it’s a relatively big upfront cost, but it’s also an insanely effective method of BC. So even if that worker leaves before the IUD pays for itself, there’s that much less likely chance they will be on the hook for a pregnancy which far far more expensive.

        My insurance company did not cover having the IUD inserted, but they would happily have continued to cover prescription birth control. I ultimately stayed with that company and on that plan for at least 6 years after having it inserted. They saved an inordinate amount of money because I had the capability to pay for it out of my pocket. It’s very frustrating that there was no corresponding lowering of my premiums or any sort of refund, even though I saved them the cost of both the IUD and continuing BC prescriptions *and* eliminated the possibility of pregnancy through my own personal expenditure.

  • dj pomegranate

    This is a great topic. I haven’t had a dental cleaning or an eye exam in over three years because my insurance (student health insurance, then my own plan that I bought — a bare-bones plan just in case) don’t cover anything but EMERGENCY vision and EMERGENCY dental. So basically, my sight and oral health are luxuries. Luckily I have saved enough now to go to the optometrist and (university) dentist, but…three years is ridiculous.

    I also wanted to say that I got an IUD at a free/low-cost clinic in NYC. I got the Mirena because 5 years is approximately when mr. pomegranate and I want to start having kids, and I LOVE it. It cost about $60 for insertion. I don’t know if they have any similar community health clinics where you are, but it’s worth looking in to!

    • Dianne

      Aiieeee! Eyes and teeth are NOT optional!

      As a stop gap measure, have you considered going to a dental school for care? NYU’s dental school has (or at least had, last time I checked) a good reputation, you’d be seen by a student but with a fully trained and qualified dentist supervising, and is quite inexpensive (sliding scale, I think).

      • Ibis3

        That’s the main issue I have with our otherwise amazing healthcare system. I went for years without going to the dentist because I couldn’t afford it, and I see my optometrist less often than I’d like. But I’m so grateful that we have socialised medicine.

      • http://pslibrary.com MrPopularSentiment

        Yeah, I get that they had to make some tough calls because of the political atmosphere and the way that money was being budgeted, but it really is a shame. How can you separate teeth from health? Especially given that gum disease can cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated health problems such as premature birth, heart attacks, etc. And a kid with a massive abscess isn’t exactly going to be in top form in school…

      • dj pomegranate

        Dianne, and Uly downthread–I actually did go to the NYU dental school a few days ago and they did a great job! It was a total of $150–not cheapety cheap, but I can afford it now. It just baffles me that my “basic” insurance doesn’t cover these basic preventative healthcare costs.

    • http://blog.luigiscorner.com/ Azel

      I at times complain that in France orthodontist and optician visits can be quite costly given that the Social Security reimbursment is not that high for glasses or dental braces but not even be able to have a dental cleaning or an eye exam ? That’s madness, the words fail me…

      • Dianne

        Azel: If you’re anywhere near the border, it might actually be cheaper to get your glasses in Germany. At least, the cost of glasses in Germany is MUCH less than in the US. I don’t know how it compares to France for certain. Try Fielmann: they’re an evil discount chain, but they are cheap and give good quality.

      • http://blog.luigiscorner.com/ Azel

        I live in south-east France, near the Italian border, so it wouldn’t be a good idea. And am grateful that when I had to pay for glasses and dental braces I was on my mother’s health insurance: she works at a public hospital (nurse’s aid) and her hospital’s insurance is very good.

    • Elise

      Right, because people don’t need their teeth. At the community college where I teach, there are many (usually poor single women) who want to go into the healthcare field. It’s perfect for them: 1-2 years of school to be a respiratory therapist, dental hygienist, RN, nurse’s assistant, etc. Here is the problem: They have to have good teeth to get into the medical field…and guess who hasn’t had the money throughout her life to afford dental care? It’s awful. This should be a RIGHT!

      • Melissa

        I went to the dentist a grand total of 3 times growing up, so it’s not anymore affordable in the USA.

      • Elise

        Exactly. Because dental care is not affordable for so many people, these people are left without the ability to get a job in the medical field that they want. It’s terrible.

      • Dianne

        Talk about moments when your privilege walks up and bonks you on the nose…I went to the dentist many times as a child. My only concern-and, as far as I know, my parents’ only concern-was whether or not I’d need fillings this time and how many. Didn’t have the best baby teeth. Paying for care, including crowns and other major procedures, was never an issue. My (parents’) insurance was…the federal government employee’s insurance. Yep, more evil government insurance making life overly easy.

      • Elise

        I think the dental one works me up so much because it blocks people (mostly women) from getting well-paying jobs. You can’t even enter a college health program with bad teeth. I know that health can impede job-getting, like being unable to do heavy construction because of a wheelchair. But teeth! Something so easily fixable, is standing in the way of these women’s success.

    • Uly

      Whereabouts in the city do you live? I know of a few dental technician schools that give low-cost or free exams and cleaning. There may be one near you.

  • http://pslibrary.com MrPopularSentiment

    I live in Canada. When I got pregnant, I went to a free clinic to confirm the pregnancy. That got me a referral, and I was in my midwife’s office within a couple weeks. Early in my pregnancy, I saw my midwife every two weeks, then every week, and then twice a week as we got closer to my due date. I had several blood tests and ultrasounds done to check that everything was going okay (gestational diabetes, fetal organ development, fetal skeletal development, iron levels, etc).

    When my son was born, I stayed a bit longer in the hospital than intentionally planned. He was very big and outliers on the heavy end sometimes have trouble maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Not a big deal and we definitely could have gone home, but we opted to stay because there wasn’t really a reason not to. So for a day, we just hung out and got to know each other while a nurse came in every couple hours to take a little prick of blood from my son’s heel.

    The day after we left the hospital, our midwife came for a home-visit to make sure that he and I were doing okay. She came every day for about three days, then she came every other day for a while. After two weeks, we started going to see her at her office again – every week at first, then every two weeks. At three months, our care was referred back to our regular family doctor. We’ve had Well Baby visits every couple months during which my son’s heart, lungs, hips, muscle development, brain development, weight, etc. are all monitored. Now that he’s almost a year and a half, our visits are decreasing to about once every six months.

    This is for a totally healthy baby. My pregnancy was textbook perfect, my son’s apgar was 10/10, and other than the weight issue, we haven’t had any problems at all. This was all just preventative, to make sure that everything is still going good and to catch any potential problems before they become big issues. Never, at any point, was I ever put in the position of having to weigh my priorities between my son’s physical health and my family’s financial health. I could focus just on making sure that he gets the best medically possible start in life. And instead of spending money on copays, I can put money aside for his future education.

    Teabaggers like to claim that “socialized medicine” reduces your choices, but it doesn’t. It gives you choices. I could choose to monitor my pregnancy to make sure that it was progressing optimally. I can choose to monitor my son’s development to make sure that he’s healthy. And I can choose to put money aside for his education because I’m not having to spend it on medical bills. Even where caregivers are concerned, I could choose between having my primary caregiver during my pregnancy be my family doctor, an OB, or a midwife – and my choice could be made purely based on standard of care rather than financial concerns.

    • Carolyn the Red

      That’s it – the systems in Canada aren’t perfect, but really, we just don’t have to think about money when it comes to our health and our families’ health. I keep talking to Americans who think that you are assigned a doctor and lack for choice in Canadian health care – I just don’t see it. I’m 5 1/2 months pregnant myself.

      When I went to my GP to confirm the pregnancy, he asked me where I wanted a referral (I’ve moved since I started visiting him, but I like him) So, I picked an obstetrician. That OB I picked told me that the first appointment was primarily to see if I was comfortable with him and his practice, and that he or my family doctor could refer me on if I wanted. There’s regular appointments every 4 weeks, then every 2, then 1, for monitoring. I can call for an extra appointment if there’s any problem, or if I’m just really worried about something.

      Then we talked about testing – and it was really a philosophical talk about small risks and invasive testing versus non-invasive tests that are less certain, and what I wanted in these respects. Money never came into my thought process at all. All the screening tests were covered. None was “compulsory”. The only money-related question was if I’d like to pay a little extra for a single room, rather than the free 4-person room, when I pre-registered at the hospital.

      There could be an issue of choice, and is in a lot of places not too far from here – but that’s a lack of doctors/midwives/whatever. Paying them out of pocket won’t magically make more appear, and in particular, won’t make them choose to practice in the areas with a lack of them.

      I’m just angry when I hear about people having to make health-care decisions with financial considerations being so important. I know it happens in Canada too (medications being a case), and it makes me angry then too.

      • Rosie

        “There could be an issue of choice, and is in a lot of places…but that’s a lack of doctors…. Paying them out of pocket won’t magically make more appear, and in particular, won’t make them choose to practice in the areas with a lack of them.”

        AMEN! As is evidenced by the fact that we have the *exact same problem* in rural areas in the US.

    • Rana

      I become insanely jealous whenever I read about the maternity care that women receive in other countries. Here, maternity care is not inherently a part of insurance; it is often treated as an optional extra, with its own waiting period and additional premiums. So if a woman finds herself pregnant, and either loses her job or learns that her employer didn’t bother to include maternity coverage, she’s basically out of luck. All of the self-insurance packages I’ve seen either exclude prenatal care (though I guess ACA addresses that part) and childbirth and other hospital expenses outright, or they charge a higher premium AND require a 365-day waiting period before they’ll cover any such expenses. So if you’re not currently covered and pregnant, or facing a situation where time delays are a concern (such as a woman facing a surgery or medical treatment that will permanently alter her fertility, or who is at the older end of things), you’re going to end up paying for any hospital expenses – for miscarriage, for childbirth – out of pocket. And in a medical context in which 1/3 of women are given C-sections, that’s a hideously large expense.

      • Christine

        I think that a lot of Canadians don’t get just how bad the healthcare system in the US is, because the private insurance is so much worse there than it is in Canada. My officemate’s wife is an immigrant, and there were delays in getting her coverage (I think she needed her permanent residency approved first, or something, I’m not sure what it was). So they bought insurance for her. They found insurance that would specifically cover emergency costs for a very affordable price. In addition, many (if not most) Canadians have private insurance to cover things like prescription medication, eyeglasses, upgrades to a private room in the hospital, services that have been delisted in their province (eye checkups if you’re not a kid or senior, physio, etc). But because they have such a different function than American health insurance, they don’t actually provide a good basis for comparison, and have resulted in a kinder industry.

    • Kit

      This doesn’t just apply to pregnancy either. Due to our universal health care system, it is much easier for us to actually practice preventative medicine the way that it’s recommended, and as a result any medical issues we do have tend to cost the system less in the long run.

      I come from a lower-middle income family, and recently one of my parents was diagnosed with cancer. I’m a law student with a significant tuition rate, and in a place like the United States I might have had to leave school to work (I have a degree already in another field and could potentially find work, with difficulty), or we would have had to take out loans or whatever because cancer care is so expensive. But due to universal health care, I could concentrate on the emotional side of things, and anyway because my parents have been going to see the doctor the recommended number of times, they caught it early enough that the doctors are fairly certain they can cure it without even using chemo. Preventative medicine saves lives and is cheaper in the long run (unless your plan is to actually just let all those people die).

      One of my friends is a doctor and has mentioned to me that actually you have a lot more options for your medical care when you don’t have to pay for it. When you have to pay for medical care, the doctor needs to think up options that you can afford, rather than options that are actually good for you.

      In short, I absolutely don’t understand the controversy in the United States over this. Maybe it is because the law in the US is substantially different but … no, really, in the end I just don’t get it.

      • Elise

        As an American citizen who spent a lot of childhood in Canada, the entire thing is nonsensical to me, too.

    • Dianne

      Teabaggers like to claim that “socialized medicine” reduces your choices, but it doesn’t.

      I remember reading somewhere (sorry, don’t have the reference at the moment) a formal study of this issue. They found that while Canadians have less choice in which insurance they use, they have equal or more choice in which provider they use. So your impression has been scientifically confirmed.

  • mostlylurking

    I will never forget the ad i saw on a bus in NY once; Can’t pay your childrens medical bills? Call… Frankly, it’s obscene in a supposedly first world nation that people run the risk of bankruptcy by having children. And the fact that amputation is common in your diabetics because insurance won’t cover blood sugar measuring tests? Insane.

  • http://salami-orchids.blogspot.com PlumJo

    To make a very long story extremely short relative to its size, I’ll be 25 in January, having graduated college in 2011 with a BA. I have fibromyalgia, endometriosis, asthma, and a joint condition probably caused by a genetic disorder (but I wouldn’t know, I can’t afford to be tested…the treatment’s the same, so it doesn’t really matter, but I digress)– and those are just the expensive ones. My medical bills alone are $300 a month, WITH insurance.

    Obama came through for me like a shining knight with the law that granted me insurance coverage under my parents’ policy until I turn 26, because as it had been I would have lost coverage upon graduating.

    Because of my conditions I can’t work at McDonald’s or a grocery store like other recent grads, so I’ve been substitute teaching for about $100 a week while looking for a job I can handle. Unfortunately the job market’s flooded. I’m going to be stuck in my childhood bedroom for a long, long time: suffocating.

    If I even get a job with benefits, though, the insurance companies can turn me down for preexisting conditions. I desperately need access to universal healthcare.

    My health, money, and politics influence every decision I make.

    I need to stop talking or I’m going to cry.

    • Lotti

      I hope this doesn’t sound ridiculous- but come to Australia. Or go to Canada. Sometimes I wish the rest of the world could impress upon those Americans just how horrific we see the conditions human beings must live with there are.

    • Watry

      I’m 22 and in the last year of my BS, but otherwise our stories are extremely similar–diabetes, a thyroid disorder, joint problems, and mental health issues. Without insurance, I’d be trying to make ridiculous amounts of money just for insulin and blood sugar testing strips. I’m looking at graduate schools outside the US.

  • Dianne

    FWIW, Romney is behind right now, according to 538.com and losing rather than gaining ground. So it currently looks like Obama again.

    But “Obamacare” isn’t enough. We need real universal health care.

  • Evenstar120

    When my husband lost his job a couple of years ago, the first major worry was what we would do about health insurance. We had savings that would cover day-to-day expenses/bills, but there was absolutely no way we could pay for COBRA long term. In the end, we wound up going with a very temporary extremely high deductible plan that was still pretty expensive, but better than nothing. And then we hoped very hard that nothing major happened and that my birth control worked because pregnancy definitely wasn’t covered. I used to dream that I was pregnant and would have to decide what to do.

    I also find myself ignoring symptoms and dreading even the smallest problematic diagnosis. Not because of the obvious medical implications for my body, but because I live in fear of having that “pre-existing condition” that assures I would never find health insurance if I lost my job. I know that the ACA is supposed to change that, but like Libby Anne says, what happens if the law gets overturned?

    It’s ironic that even as the right trumpets about our supposed right to get what ever care we need, see any doctor we want to see, and freedom to make health choices, as Libby Anne points out, most of us aren’t really free to do that at all due to things like cost.

    • http://pslibrary.com MrPopularSentiment

      See, that’s the thing. Ignoring symptoms? I cough and I go see my doctor, just to make sure that everything is okay.

      I have a friend who keeps going on about how he wants a US style health care system because he doesn’t want the “wait times” (meaning he had to wait three days for a non-life threatening emergency condition). But what he doesn’t get is that when he heart “just felt funny,” he didn’t even think twice about going to the hospital and getting a barrage of tests to make sure that everything was okay. When his wife thought that she might have found a lump in her breast, same thing. Straight to the hospital, did a bunch of tests. And while it was very stressful, that stress was all about the possibility of her having cancer and not at all about the costs of tests (or, worse, treatment should anything have been found). So when his retina detached and he’s whining about how he wants a US style system because they made him wait a couple days for surgery, wtf?

      • Christine

        I’m not positive about all the provinces, but in Ontario at least, the hospitals are privately run (generally for-profit AFAIK). The wait times are in the hands of the for-profit hospitals, not the government. (I admit, they were hurt by the government before this one, which sent a lot of people to cabinet in Ottawa, because they felt that the doctors should be working 100% of the time, which means NO down time, therefore mandatory waits). See if your friend has an answer to why a more profit-based system would fix the problems with the for-profit aspect of healthcare. (Probably because then they’d be allowed to bump a poor person for him if he paid enough money, but he’s unlikely to want to admit that).

      • Liberated Liberal

        Umm.. You should tell him that unless he does have a real emergency he DOES have to wait. We sometimes have to wait weeks and months for appointments with doctors. In emergency rooms, of course, you can be forced to wait many, many miserable hours. You don’t get into surgery immediately just because he says he wants to. I’m seriously curious about what he thinks – you just decide in one moment that you want to see a certain doctor and have a certain procedure and you’ll get it that minute? It seriously doesn’t work that way. But it would be fun to watch him find out the hard way. Especially when he’s out $45,000 for that surgery.

        I guess they believe the propaganda about the superiority of US healthcare as much as we tend to. It is rare that you get to see a doctor immediately, or even within a few days. And nothing depends on insurance and money over there. I’ve been sick for weeks now, but have no health insurance. I don’t know if I have an infection, the flu or who knows what, because I can’t pay for it and most of them wouldn’t take me anyway.

      • http://pslibrary.com MrPopularSentiment

        That’s exactly it. He claims that if people pay their own, doctors will be making more money so there will be more incentive for people to get into that field, but of course Canadian medical schools are turning plenty of people away – profit is clearly not the issue.

      • Rosie

        My friend had a “female problem” for which her doctor recommended hysterectomy. But the insurance company didn’t want to pay for it on the word of the doctor, so they had to do a laparoscopy, take pictures, sew her back up, send the pictures to the insurance company, wait for approval, then finally schedule her for the real surgery six weeks after the original diagnosis. And people in Canada complain about wait times?!?!

      • Christy

        Tell your friend that’s so in love with U.S. healthcare that my last ER visit cost me $2,000 – and I HAVE health insurance. I’m self-employed, so I have a high deductible. My last dental visit? $1,000. Therapy for severe PTSD? $18,000 over a four year period. (And as a bonus, I can NEVER switch insurance companies because of the diagnosis. Put PTSD on a list of your pre-exisiting conditions and they won’t be able to mail the denial letter fast enough.) My HMO has very limited mental health coverage, no dental, and each visit to the eye doctor costs me $200.

        I once broke out in hives, threw up repeatedly, and then passed out in my hallway – and didn’t go to the doctor because I hadn’t hit my out of pocket maximum yet, and couldn’t afford the lab tests.

        And here’s the thing – I’m grateful I have health insurance. I’m having a baby in a few months, and without it, my pre-natal care and childbirth would cost around $20,000. Instead, we’re only paying about $2,500 out of pocket. And I don’t understand this thing where supposedly, we have all these choices – I have to go to an OB (I had exactly 8 to choose from within a ten mile radius), because my insurance doesn’t cover midwives; I have to have the baby at the one hospital run by my HMO within a ten mile radius; and I have to get my prescriptions filled at the HMO pharmacy or they won’t cover it.

        And I live in Los Angeles, and my HMO is a non-profit with one of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings in the country – I can only imagine how much more limited it would be if I lived in a small town or rural area.

        And I live in Los Angeles

      • Rosa

        Once, I was working and one of my coworkers started having serious heart pains – up her arm, across her chest.

        We worked across the street from a hospital. But her insurance plan didn’t cover that hospital, it was “out of network”. She COULD have walked over there and been seen probably right away, but the out of network copay was high (a few years later I went to an out-of-network emergency room on different insurance and it was $400.)

        So another coworker drove her across town to the hospital her insurance had an agreement with. Luckily, it was still soon enough that her heart attack was treated promptly and everything turned out OK. But what if the attack had been more serious, and those 15 minutes were really critical?

      • ABaker

        Wait times? WAIT TIMES? Here is the very short version: During my sophomore year of high school I had a headache for months that wouldn’t go away. I had to wait months more for an appointment with a doctor 4 hours away to test for Lyme Disease, and his tests weren’t covered: $1000+ out of pocket. This was 5 years ago. The headache still hasn’t gone away, in part because I can’t afford the time off work or the $100 in gas to go see this doctor. (He’s one of the best/only Lyme doctors in the New England area.) To add to the problems, I haven’t had a menstrual cycle since December. I tried to get an appointment with a local ObGyn in April, but the earliest appointment they had was August 30. MONTHS later. And I still haven’t had a cycle, and who knows if there’s something seriously wrong with my hormones or my plumbing… Now because of the Affordable Care Act, I’m still on my mother’s insurance. And because she’s a retired teacher, she has FANTASTIC coverage: $20-or-less copays for pretty much anything except ER visits, which are $35. Her insurance covers most any procedure needed (except a few types of tests), and she pays all of $80/month for it. How terrible it is for my friends who don’t get that coverage? And for people in rural areas (I live in the outer suburbs of NYC) who have fewer doctors to choose from. I’m almost 20 years old and know I’ll have to leave the country before I turn 26 or if I want to start a family in order to keep myself healthy. I wasn’t able to afford more than one year of college in part because I had to choose between tuition and medical bills. This country doesn’t care for it’s people.

  • Liberated Liberal

    Last month, I was kicked off of my SO’s insurance plan (through work) because of a clerical error. And they won’t take me until I re enroll for another year. I’ve spent a month applying for insurance and being denied all types of coverage because I have:

    1) PMS that I do nothing for. I take no medication and my paps are always normal.
    2) Anxiety that requires maybe $15 worth of medication a YEAR and one or two visits to the doctor
    3) I went to a chiropractor last year for hip weakness (that was FIXED brilliantly)

    It’s no joke. They list these things on every denial letter. I am not allowed health insurance because I have relatively minor issues that require $15 and some ibuprofen. They won’t even cover me and refuse to cover those issues. I am moving out of this country as soon as possible. I no longer agree with anything this place stands for – socially, politically, environmentally, spiritually, etc.; the list could go on ad infinitum. Rather than just being angry and continuing to let my life fall apart, I’m starting the process of doing anything I can to move.

    • http://Ripeningreason.com Bix

      When I had to find new insurance I was denied for similarly stupid reasons, so I wrote to the insurance company and outlined precisely why their reasons were stupid. I included my old doctor’s contact info, and I don’t know if they called her, but I did get a membership package in the mail about a week later. My friend’s husband was denied because of a healed shoulder injury, and he also got the plan he wanted after writing a letter. So it’s definitely worth a try if you haven’t already. I think they’re just trying to extort people as much as they can.
      Which is why I appreciated Romneycare when I lived in Massachusetts, but I guess he’s not so into that anymore.

  • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

    I’m self-employed, can’t afford insurance (seriously it would cost more than my rent per month so my choice is have a place to live or have health insurance, I can’t afford both), and I make just barely too much to qualify for the state medicaid program. I’ve had pain in my hip for months, where it will “snap” painfully if I bend just wrong, I can’t afford to see an orthopedist for it. I had a Mirena IUD put in almost 2 years ago, I qualified for a reduced fee due to my income but it was still $250 out of pocket (compared to around $700 if I’d had to pay all of it).

    My boyfriend and I have discussed getting married, even though neither of us really want to get married, just so I can be covered under his health insurance. That is not a fair situation for either of us to be in.

  • Emily

    My husband can stay on his parents’ health insurance plan till he’s 26! Previously, you couldn’t be on your parents’ plan after marriage. This is great, because his full time job doesn’t provide benefits. Thanks, Obama!

  • Rosie

    When I decided last year that I really *needed* to have my tubes tied, I went through some wondering about if I should wait for the Obamacare provisions to kick in, and then buy insurance to pay for it. However, my husband works for such a small company that insurance through them is about the same cost as on the private market (significantly higher than our mortgage, for two of us). So even though it took about half my retirement savings (which are thankfully available penalty-free for medical expenses), we determined that we’d save all that money back in a mere 18 months without insurance. And waiting would have been hellish anyhow; my intense fear of pregnancy-therefore-fear-of-sex is the only thing that has come even close to splitting up my marriage.

  • Eric D Red

    As with the above comments, when my Canadian wife and I had our kids (well, she did most of it), monthly prenatal checks, newborn checkups, and so on, without ever having to worry about affording it. You simply get the care you need. And you don’t go bankrupt doing it.

    But there’s more to it. I’ve started my own business, and I doubt I could have dared do that if I thought it meant a broken leg would cost us thousands, or some long-term illness would leave us broke and forever without insurance. Teabaggers (and most Americans, it seems) scream about losing their freedom to socialized medicine, but being tied to a job you hate because you can’t afford to risk leaving due to a long term illness is not freedom.

    • Elise

      Exactly. Workers are afraid to report abuses because they are afraid of losing their jobs. They can’t join unions because the employers have made it clear that they will be fired. It’s a sort of modern indentured servitude.

  • BabyRaptor

    I don’t have medical insurance. I ignore medical issues until it gets to the point that I end up in the ER.

    And there are people out there who think that this is how it should be. How God intended it to be.

    Welcome to America!

  • http://www.brooksandsparrow.com Angelia Sparrow

    My daughter is 20. She lives and works on her own and makes enough to upport herself. However, her work offers no benefits whatsoever. My insurance still covers her.

    She has a hernia right now. We thought it was an ovarian cyst.
    If she needs surgery, I’ve told her to get it before January, before November if possible.
    Doctors are hearing a LOT of that.

  • Mostlylurking

    My impression reading the “arguments” against national healthcare, is that the opponents are more interested in making sure “those” people don’t get any. You know, the unworthy, swarthy, welfare using, lazy bodies that all live in mansions, have flat screens and drive away in ( insert luxury car here), who never did a day of honest work in their lives. And not interested at all in you know, real people who actually need it.

    • smrnda

      The description of the people who don’t deserve health care sound exactly like the lives of rich and wealthy people.

  • Nurse Bee

    The main reason I work as much as I do is so we have health insurance. My husband’s work would only cover him (and even then, when we looked at him being covered through his work instead of mine there is a $500/day copay if he ever ended up in the hospital…no thanks!). We pay quite a bit too…about $700/month for medical, although it covers just about everything with minimal co-pays.

    I have to admit though, I worry about rising healthcare costs for my own family, associated with current healthcare reform, as ours is a pretty good plan and might end up getting taxed. The US system does stink, and though the healthcare reform has some good things, I think in general people will still be unhappy (it isn’t universal healthcare afterall).

  • Catherine

    Not to rub it in anyone’s face but here in Canada, after we get our free pregnancy care and delivery, we get a full year of paid maternity leave, that we can share with the father if we so like. Then, if we live in the province of Quebec, we can send our kids to excellent daycare for 7$ a day…then comes college age, tuition is +- 2500$, whatever the university or program you choose. C’mon, yall, move up here ! :)

  • C

    I’m on the contraception method that I’m on currently because it’s generic – at my last job, I had a rude awakening about what the pill I was taking cost when you didn’t get it through a university hospital that discounted it for students. So I’ve been bouncing around trying different generics that “get the job done” but after a few months start up with ridiculous side effects. Many of the discussions we have around availability of health care are also really biased towards those that live in urban areas – in the small town we lived in, the closest OB-GYN in-network was over an hour’s drive away. Thankfully I’ve moved to a new job and new insurance: I’m looking forward to switching back to the pill that actually WORKS and won’t break our budget, and to seeing a doctor that is local.

    I did not go to the dentist for over 6 years (graduate school) because I couldn’t afford it, and it was only due to careful self-care and good luck that when I finally went (having dental insurance through work) that everything was OK. Eye care was OK, since the local optometrist had a deal running for students – but given family history, I really need to see an ophthalmologist. My partner was uninsured for three years, and we now have him on my work insurance – and we worried anytime he felt badly, because what if this would bankrupt us. When we looked into him receiving care at one of the low-income clinics in town, we realized it would have taken over 2 months to be “approved” and then to make an appointment. Thankfully, we were OK and I had a family safety net to fall back on if something weren’t – but that’s not the way it should be.

    Really, I share these anecdotes because even people like me (grew up middle class, are ostensibly middle class now that graduate school’s over) are still making our medical decisions based on cost rather than care – which is a recipe for long term problems for our collective national health. I’m happy we have Obamacare, because it’s better than what we had before, but I wish we had gone with single-payer.

  • Meyli

    Financial decisions are big one for me lately – so it isn’t only health insurance…..
    I work *almost* full-time, and my boyfriend just started working full-time. He gets benefits (if he chooses) and I do not. Options:

    1) We move out. Then I need health insurance (because we would be independent of our parents). Either we get married, and I’m placed under his, or I apply for my state’s program independently because I make very little.
    2) We move out, into a low-income community (that we qualify for). If I get a raise or get put on full-time, I may disqualify us by a few hundred dollars. If we increased our family size (by having a child), we could live there until we made several thousand dollars more.
    3) We stay at home. Unmarried because we cannot live together. I remain under my parents’ health insurance for a couple years. Neither of us qualifies for more financial aid or academic assistance because we are still ‘dependents’ (so even if we pay for our own college courses, it is not reflected in our tax returns!). However, our parents will not, or cannot pay for college for us (includes: they cannot co-sign any loans). Ever tried to get a $50,000 loan without a co-signer?

    All three situations raises so many questions for us. There are so many directions we could go in, but none of them seem quite right for us.

  • smrnda

    Had to weigh in on my own situation here. I have 3 college degrees (mathematics, computer science and psychology.) Up until a few years ago I wasn’t using then but I was working at a day care for about 11 dollars an hour. Why? Because I needed the insurance. I have epilepsy, I’m partially blind, and I have schizo-affective disorder which means that most plans would exclude me for pre-existing conditions.

    So a few months ago I took a job as a software engineer at a start-up; I’m paying COBRA for my old insurance, but because the new company is small, and can’t afford it, I’m probably going to leave them and go back to the day care since even with 4.5 times more $$$, the insurance costs would be so high that I’d end up making nothing but barely meeting my living expenses.

    My boss is not from the US, and he’s found the US health care system (or lack thereof) to be a huge problem for businesses in the US. “What kind of insurance do you offer?” isn’t a question he got asked in any other nation, and he’s found this problem to be big enough that he might close up shop in the US if Obama care doesn’t stay in effect. (So tea-baggers who want to say the Obama care is anti-business – go shove it.) He won’t be happy to lose me, but he can’t do much about it, and so I’ll end up leaving a job that few people could do and will go take up one that other people might need… all because of the insurance.

    I’ve never met a person opposed to a national health care plan who had any facts, just ignorant opinions and lots of screaming and yelling.

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  • Rene

    How sad is it that when I was 10 years old I began dreading growing up because that would mean getting off my parents’ health insurance coverage? I have type 1 diabetes, which is not cheap. I am even putting off considering marriage with my partner of 4 years just so I can stay on my parents’ insurance. Crazy.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    As a Canadian-American, the whole healthcare debate drives me nuts (it did before I moved here, but more now that I’ve had to deal with the American health care ‘system’). Even with insurance coverage (and a household income that can easily cover out-of-pocket expenses that still arise), it’s been a pain. Our insurance provider changed in January, so right now my psychiatrist’s office is trying to get payments from them and I’m hoping that it works out because while we can afford the bill, it’s still upwards of $200 (for two check-ups).

    A few months before moving, I was having an eye problem and had to get a number of tests done. I had several appointments with an optometrist, a blood test and a chest x-ray, and didn’t pay a cent for any of it. My total costs only came out to maybe $40 (I honestly don’t remember) for anti-biotics. A few months after moving I took my husband to the ER for a bad migraine, and we wound up paying $800 AFTER insurance just for that. My medication initially cost me more after insurance here than it did before insurance in Canada (The cost has since dropped, but I need to get it via mail-order, which makes it a hassle sometimes. Both of us have had periods of being out of pills). The most frustrating one was just before the new mental coverage regulation came in I had used up all my covered visits (that we already had a deductible on), and I’m not talking yearly. They’re covered again now, and I’m paying less for them, but yeesh. All in all, it’s been a bigger pain as well as more expensive.

    What really gets me is the arguments people have against reform–most of them are ALREADY HAPPENING. Death panels? Yeah, they’re called insurance adjusters. Having to wait for care? Happens if you need to save up for it, assuming you ever get the money together at all.

    ( I do find it amusing that when reform comes up in the US the line is ‘We don’t want to be like Canada’ and when it comes up in Canada the line is ‘We don’t want to be like the US’)

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