Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here's where that "Center enough to irritate everyone" comes into play...

I am not one of those who think our current healthcare system works just fine. I think tying insurance to employment was a mistake in the first place--and that mistake is a half-century old. I think that HMOs were another big mistake. Bear in mind, I think our system does work, but I know from firsthand experience that it is too expensive, too cumbersome, and too specialized to work well.

When I was a young girl, my mother filled out insurance forms for reimbursement. It was a long and tedious process. Although we were ex-military and were able to use our Retired Air Force military IDs to access the military medical system, we only used that for vaccines, allergy shots, urgent, or emergency care--they were good at that kind of medicine. The private sector performed better for the day-to-day care, hence all the insurance forms papering our dining room table every time someone had an appointment. Because my mother had to pay up front and be reimbursed later, she questioned procedures and therefore doctors didn't order as many tests. She was invested in healthcare in a way that I never had to be.

I had HMOs. Once I landed my first job with benefits, I stopped being a watchful consumer of my medical care. I avoided doctors like the plague when I was younger and uninsured. With the HMO, I had only a small co-pay for an office visit, a slightly larger one for urgent care, and an almost painful one for an emergency room visit. Almost.

Unlike my uninsured days, I now went to the doctor with every cold or flu. If she wanted to rule out pneumonia with a lung X-ray, I had no objections. I probably wouldn't see a bill for that anyway and the only paperwork I ever had to work with was filling out my change of address forms whenever I moved.

Econ 101 says that an increase in demand drives up prices. My demand increased. I'm sure others were demanding more, too. Why not? It was monetarily painless, after all.

Healthcare was painless in other ways, too. Because I never filled out forms, my doctor had to hire staff to do that. Because I never argued over procedures, my doctor and his office battled it out with my insurance company. After awhile, they worked things out or they negotiated a set number of procedures that were okay in certain circumstances and the charges for those. Over time and with everyone doing that, I think things have gotten a bit out of hand.

Meanwhile, those who have not had the opportunity or the gumption to get those jobs with the benefits (those self-insured by choice or by circumstance) have had to deal with the up tick in prices caused by all of us using the system more frequently.

So, here we are. We've got a massive new healthcare bill with already record spending deficits and no real way to pay for it. No one is talking to anyone else: shouting and name-calling, yes, but no real dialogue. Not a single GOP member voted for the bill and Attorney Generals in several states are lining up to see who's going to file the first challenge to the bill when it is signed today.

Worse and worser, for some stupid reason, this couldn't just be about healthcare. Instead, heavy-duty life issues were incorporated into it so that many people who would have supported this (read the USCCB and other pro-life Christian groups) couldn't support it, despite what a few dozen wayward nuns and Nancy Pelosi have had to say about it.

I'm thinking what we need here is an administration who recognizes that it had better start wooing not only the press but the people and the other party as well. So far, the press is on board. Maybe Mrs. Clinton can share a few tricks of her husband's: he was a master at wooing was he not? Since we are still arguing despite the bill being ready to sign, I'm thinking that bullying and name-calling in the blogosphere wasn't the best plan.

Life issues and money issues have been my two objections all along. Because I've raised them here and there, I've been called a bigot and I've been told my son should die rather than burden the system. I've been compared to Palin, too (and let me just make it very clear, despite the glasses, the brown hair, the jogging, and the special-needs son, the resemblance is merely surface level. I'm no quitter). I could just chalk this up to tolerance and compassion from the Left, but that's too snarky. I'll say instead that ignorance and bigotry are not exclusive to the Right. Most racists I've encountered have been Conservative, but most Eugenicists have been Liberal.

How about we ditch the extremists of both parties and start talking in the middle here?

Not that anyone cares what I think, but I do think the bill has gotten so entangled with issues and partisanship and rancor it is going to be tangled up in so many suits it will be strangled to a long-suffering death. I'm thinking no one has won this one. I really hope it's not too late to call for a do-over. Sticks and stones have broken a bone or two. Is there a doctor in the House? How about the Senate?


  1. I think your last paragraph sums it up. No one really cares what the American people WANT. No one cares what what we are thinking.
    The mindset seems to be, we HAVE GOT to pass a health care bill or the Obama Presidency will have NO legacy. Its Shameful!

    I believe there should be something done about health care. Tort reform would be a really good first step. I believe we should have an honest dialogue, instead of trying to ram a health care bill down our throats that the american people really do not WANT.

  2. I hate the hive mind: "You don't think like we think? You're evil!" The extremists of both parties have made chumps of us all. They want those in the middle to be so riled up, they aren't able to talk about anything. It's effectively shut down dialogue. There's not a whole lot of tolerance for dialogue anymore. Noticed?