Friday, September 18, 2009

Superstarr HealthCare

I'm starting a new writing project about Endometriosis. The other day I had to drop Dave Ramsey. He spent five minutes on his radio program ranting about how universal healthcare would be "socialism." It was disgusting and I navigated right away from his website, where I'd just been planning to drop $200 for tickets to his live event.

Universal Healthcare is no more socialism than offering healthcare to active and retired military personnel. I've been the beneficiary of government healthcare most of my life, first as a military dependent then as a college student, then as a private citizen who prefers to utilize clinics. In fact, and this is a total aside, my life was never put at risk until I hauled off and used private physician care. Those guys nearly killed me!

When this president was campaigning, he made the rather poignant commitment to making sure every American had access to the same healthcare as members of Congress enjoy. Think about that for five seconds. The same people who are exhorting the "evil socialist unDERtow" of HealthCare for All are on a government healthcare plan. They will keep that healthcare plan if they are voted out in the next election.

Personally, I could appreciate having access to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). There are millions, yes, MILLIONS of people covered by FEHBP. The surly government worker at the courthouse, she is covered by FEHBP. The disinterested gossip at the Federal Building...he has it too. If you're between the ages of 24-34 in all likelihood you're reading this without insurance. If you're in certain California or New York markets you may have catastrophic coverage. Catastrophic coverage does precisely what it says, if a piano falls on your head, you're covered for a few hospital days.

More than likely, if you do have coverage you don't know what isn't covered until you need it. I work in medicine, the only people who can get the healthcare they need are 1. covered by the U.S. Government or 2. coming from another country and paying cash. I've heard individuals on the street railing about not wanting to pay for "welfare queen's kids" to have health insurance. They are crazy. Definitely crazy. The Welfare Queen? Her kids, they are already covered. If she smokes crack and snorts heroin and drinks antifreeze and her child is born with every developmental disability ever conceived, her child is covered for LIFE.

The nice college graduate who married her high school sweetheart and is starting out in a career on the bottom rung and finds herself expecting a baby? She will cut prenatal pills in half, skip sonograms, go through a very nervous pregnancy, and walk out of the hospital owing $20,000 or more for the labor suite because she does not have health insurance and in this country, if you are young (under 65) you are not deserving of basic medical care.

I'm a 30-year-old woman who has lived with a chronic illness since I was 13. I've never worried much about money and my healthcare - I've always had the benefit of the U.S. Army's healthcare plan, and when that was over, I was very gainfully employed in the career of my dreams. It wasn't until I went through the dot-com bust, lost my job after a less-than-successful surgery, and found myself living off of my investments that I even got curious about healthcare. So, I did what any enterprising young woman of 25 would do, I changed careers and started working in medicine. The things I've seen are frightening. Most physicians have no idea how to help their patients navigate the frightening world of American healthcare.

I have seen newly employed men lose their jobs and find out that the benefits they payed for were retroactively canceled after they suffer some terrible accident. The insurance company would much rather cut a guy a check for his premium than pay for his surgical care when he's been in a car accident.

I have seen hardworking people forgo care because their insurer won't approve it. Thankfully I can say I have dedicated no small amount of my life to fighting on their behalf, but I've seen it every day of my life, I've seen it.

I have had riders placed on my insurance policies. A Rider is a clause in a policy that exempts the insurance company from paying for any care related to a condition. Most policies, unbeknownst to the well-meaning purchasers, carry riders for pregnancy.

My riders put my health care in my hands. I negotiated with physicians for rates and used "cash is king" as my motto. I have been fortunate to have the cash to do this successfully, but I have spent thousands of dollars, on top of insurance premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and co-pays for the privilege. When a surgical error resulted in 6 additional surgeries, I was relieved not to have significant financial responsibility as the hospital bills rolled in. I was not without day-to-day grownup life responsibilities, and I kept the secret fear that my insurance would drop me on a whim. I sat in a hospital bed, emaciated and drugged, working on my laptop because I feared losing my job in addition to losing my health. It wasn't an irrational fear, it had a precedent in my real life experience.

I whittled away my nest egg and, in addition to the infantilizing effects of prolonged recovery, I could have ended up homeless and haunted. I've not recovered from the damage done while I was under anesthesia. I may not ever recover. Thankfully, I didn't walk away with tremendous debt. I'm very, very fortunate. There but for the grace of God went I.

How would a government health care plan have changed my life or my experience? Not a whole whopping lot, other than perhaps giving me real means for recourse with the surgeons by implementing tort reform with regards to health care. During the time period when I was self-insured, it could have saved me about $10,000. As I prepare to return to school, toting along my injuries and diminished ability to work, I would have greater confidence that I could continue to take care of myself in the myriad small ways I must.

I believe in state sponsored health care plans. State sponsored, in this instance, meaning government regulated and controlled. To say this does not exist is to ignore the tens of millions of Americans currently enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, Military Benefits, Retiree Benefits, Federal Employee Benefits, State Employee Benefits, Prison Health Care (yes, the serial killer who scored life in prison gets medical care while you fret about co-pays) and various other health care plans.

I do not have a classy ending to this post. I don't have a classy ending to my life, or the stories I have witnessed or participated in as I've grown up in America. I look with great optimism at the resolve of a President whose mother died while wondering how she would pay for the medical care she received. There is something to that, having someone in the White House for whom health care is not an abstract issue that concerns the proletariat, but an issue that has broken his own heart and hit his own pocket at the worst time imagineable. That's the best advocate I can think of in the bloviated, self-involved world of Washington.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today is not the day

For the healthcare blog. I'm tired...still.

I am at the ranch, which is infinitely more interesting than being at my home. AT the ranch, someone or something is always up to no good. Tonight one of the horses went on an unauthorized walkabout. Freaked the little sister out. She went all Death Con 5 on the everyone. It was pretty funny.

The horse was recovered in a pasture where she was enjoying some new-growth grass and a rub down or something because she's all soft and warm to the touch now. Perhaps she was abducted by aliens like Cartman and had an anal probe.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009


i'm going to write a blog on healthcare...tomorrow. tonight, i'm tired and my back hurts. there was a time when I would make such a remark, and some older coworker would tell me I was too young for back pain.

ha! i showed them! i have legitimate back pain.

but tomorrow. tomorrow i will write about healthcare. this matters to me from all sides and i want to write something i can be proud of.

listening to God Save the Sweet Potato Queens. Keeps me jolly.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Change your hair - change your life!

That's one of my favorite sayings. It's true too. Today was a good day for not writing. I keep bullying myself, challenging and taunting myself to get back to editing, but I just broke out in a rash and that seems enough to put a pause to all activity. Plus, I'm tired.

I'm on the Ralph Lauren site. Gone are the halcyon days of cruising websites and waiting with all manner of anxiety for my purchases to arrive. I'm moving! I'm going to graduate school! I'm reverting to poor (by comparison) student life. I must refamiliarize myself with TJ Maxx. I've always loved a well-cut piece of clothing, I just can't afford to pay premium prices any longer.

I have, however, thoroughly vetted every piece of clothing in my closet. All that remain are items I love and feel good in. The closet is...sparsely populated. I'm inspired by my friend Fly-brother (Ernest White II, a desperately handsome fella) @ who packed all his belongings into two carry-on bags. If I need to, I have no problem doing this, I prefer to travel light. But I've been living heavy for a while. I mean...don't crucify me for this, but I just realized I have no business tripping the market fantastic on or any longer.

This is going to take a real adjustment on my part.

Oh well. Onward and upward. I'm going to bed. I'm not going to dream of Vuitton or Louboutin! I am...I so totally am. And Bocchic Origine cuffs and raw diamonds. I'm going to dream of all of it...

Monday, September 07, 2009

What I have between my ears

Is pretty awesome...

I'm writing while I wait for my novel to open. It's not looking good for the whole "finish my 4th round of edits" project this evening. I remain optimistic.

I have quite a few projects in the pipeline. At the moment, between twice weekly breakdowns of the nervous variety and looking up at the sky from the bottom of a hole not of my own making, I've been playing with my hormones for the betterment of my health. It's working wonders too!

In addition to all of this inside work, and lots of therapy, I'm also taking on the task of miraculously dropping 10-20 actual pounds. I'm reworking my wardrobe again, nearly 2 years after falling in love with Tim Gunn's infallible advice. Now, all of this will not be documented on Les Artistes. I think I will chart my advance on graduate school (yes, two years after declaring my bachelor's degree had expired, I'm finally doing something about it) here. I'll continue to rant and rave and post inappropriate things here, while exercising some diligence and focus on my new blogs, as yet to be named.

Regardless, I'm going to commit to something. I'm committed to writing on a daily basis 5 times a week. Hope someone out there will pay attention.