Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Once Upon a Time

I was just reading about the health care crisis once more. As I do every day. And why don't our legislators get it? We need Medicare for everyone. Single payer healthcare. End of crisis. Or, just enroll us all in the legislator's health care plan, the one they have has no deductible at all!

Anyway, that thinking brought me some medical memories. One took place in 1974; I was 34 years old and in great health. I worked every day as a sheetrocker and I was also a vocational instructor for the Los Angeles City Schools at night, and that meant that I had to get a chest x-ray every year. That year, a few weeks after the x-ray, I was contacted by the school health department and told that I should contact my own doctor because my x-ray showed something suspicious. I quickly found a doctor to call my own and he took an x-ray for himself to view. He then asked if I could go to the hospital…tomorrow. Scared, I did just that and stayed for a week. For 5 days I laid in bed and watched television and submitted myself to one test per day. Yes, one (1) per day. I had no idea how much all of this cost and I wasn't too worried, I did have a good Blue Cross policy because of my Carpenter's union benefits. It was a group policy that covered thousands of members.

Short story; After a week the doctor told me to go home and then return in a week for exploratory chest surgery. Which I did, and after all of that it was found that I had pneumonia scarring in my right lung and not cancer.

I'm sure the total bill for all of this was tremendous. And I also think that the doctors and the hospital colluded to drive the bill as high as they could. And the insurance company didn't seem to mind. So where was all of this money going and who was profiting? Apparently they all were.

To be honest, I still don't see anything wrong with that system. As part of a large group, I had very affordable insurance. Very affordable. I received great care. Boring, but still very good care. The doctors and the hospitals profited and so did the insurance companies. So what went wrong?

Greed did it in. Each wanted more than the great profits they were already making. That's when healthcare fell apart and that's why we have such a healthcare disaster today. And that's why we need to control it for ourselves, as a nation. With a single payer, Medicare for all, we could do just that. Imagine a whole country, millions of us, paying into that insurance plan. Everyone would profit. Just as they used to 35 years ago. Before Reagan. (I had to throw his name in…he deserves all the infamy he can get)

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