Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Health Care Rant

Like a cold, it starts with a tickle in your throat. A twitch in your eye.

Before you know it, you're sending nasty emails to family members and blogging about how stupid the American public is, the vein in your forehead pulsing with fury.

I feel a rant coming on and I'm about to blog all over my keyboard.

My insurance company recently sent me a form. They wanted me to explain, on three separate forms, exactly how I broke my clavicle. Please provide as much detail as possible, or it may delay the processing of your claim.

There is absolutely no medical reason why the insurance company needs this information. It will not speed up my recovery or enable them to provide better medical care. In fact, no doctor or nurse who cares for me will ever see this form. So why are they asking for it? Because they want to know if someone else might be responsible for my injury. They're looking to get out of paying for my medical care.

It shouldn't be this complicated. I have a broken clavicle. Who cares how it happened. It's real and it needs to be fixed. I pay health insurance (or my employer does) precisely for this kind of situation.

How much time, energy and money are wasted by insurance companies trying to get out of doing exactly what we pay them to do?

In other countries they have something called a single-payer system that bypasses all of this bullshit.

Speaking of other countries, I don't understand why we're the only rich country in the world (and the richest of them all, at that) that doesn't consider health care a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, along the lines of public education, clean water, a fair court system, free elections, etc. Why are people so afraid of this?

We're the richest country in the world, but we're #42 in life expectancy. We pay more for health care, with worse results, than 41 other countries. There's so much to admire about this country, so why can't we provide for our citizens like the rest of the civilized world does? Why is this not even a priority for us?

Okay, I'm being rhetorical, because I have lots of theories about why we're the outlier. And none of them are charitable toward Republicans, conservatives, and most "Christians." There is a disease among people on the right that makes them believe that the government is bad. It doesn't serve any worthwhile purpose. Forget about schools and roads and police and national defense and a hundred other services that girder the system we operate within, the government is not to be trusted.

One of the most hilarious and distressing things I've heard was hollered at one of these town hall meetings lately was, "Get the government out of my Medicare!"

I can't even think of an analogy that illustrates a total lack of rationality more than that. I could try: it's like saying, "Get God out of my church!" But that's still not as clearly ridiculous as the quote I'm trying to analogize.

Guess what, Medicare is the government!! It's a government-run social program that provides health care to Americans over 65. See, the government can run health care!! It was started in the 1960's by LBJ, a Democratic president, and was opposed by most Republicans, most notably Ronald Reagan. But it's been wildly popular, and some people theorize it was the passing of this popular social program by Democrats that kept the Republicans out of power for so long.

It was funny listening to Michael Steele, the Republican committee chairman, trying to do verbal gymnastics on NPR this morning to explain his attitude toward Medicare. He won't say whether he's for it or against it, just that he wants to improve it. Even though it's a government-run health care system, and he's against those. But he can't come right out and say that he's against Medicare, because it would be political suicide. But he can come right out and say he's against the government running health care. Except that Medicare does that. And except when it (the government) regulates insurance companies.

So, I ask, again rhetorically, what is wrong with all these old people who cling to Medicare like their life depends on it (because it does) and yet furiously decry any form of government-run health care? Jesus, people, pull your head out of your Glenn Beck!!

There are two right-wing "compassionate Christians" who submit comments on my brother Dan's blog. During debates about the role of government and social programs, both of them have voiced a similar attitude that absolutely baffles me.

They've said that as Christians it is their duty to voluntarily help the poor. So if the government gets in the business of helping the poor, it takes away their choice. It takes away their ability to honor God. If they're forced to help the poor, they don't get credit for it.

Please forgive me if I've misunderstood. Perhaps they're just not very good at expressing what they mean. But what it sounds like to me is that they need poor people in order to be good Christians. Their goal is not to eradicate poverty, but to be good Christians. It's Christianity for robots. Jesus said care for the meek, so we better go find us some meek. Maybe even cultivate a group of meek that we can keep as pets. We'll be such good Christians when we care for them!

Obviously, I find this attitude incredibly nearsighted, selfish, and repugnant. Notice how this isn't at all about the people you claim to want to help (or volunteer to help), but about you. You want to be a good Christian. You want to volunteer to help. The people who don't have adequate health care? They're just a means for you to get into heaven.


Who would Jesus deny health care to?


Dan S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan S said...

Nice rant. As you might guess, I totally agree.

(which is the same comment that I deleted, except that I forgot to press the "email follow-up comments" button.)

ecthead said...

I agree with your position, and you say it so well... Have you read "Crazy for God" By Frank Shaeffer? I've only read reviews, but have it on hold at my library. I think you'd find some good comment on the "right" thinking. I'll check your blog for any comments on it!
BTW:On naming your house--It looks like a Timbrook to me.