Monday, December 12, 2011

Fighting Cancer: Occupy Healthcare

Mom’s started back on her chemo treatments this past week. She’s with a new doctor now. The only explanation she’s received about why Medicare denied her treatments over a month ago was a typo… A simple typo, made by the doctor’s office on the paperwork that was sent in to Medicare. For over a month she waited patiently, losing strength and weight. Finally, she took the advice of a cancer advocate and found a new doctor who said he’d treat her. Suddenly, her former doctor’s office called and admitted to the mistake and told her she could come back tomorrow and resume her chemo, but by then Mom had already made up her mind to switch doctors.

And still no one has apologized or explained why she couldn’t have continued her chemotherapy as planned while the various parties discussed the discrepancy in the paperwork. A human being’s health and well-being were completely forgotten in all this mess—a mess that she didn’t cause, doesn’t understand, and was never in any, way, shape or form responsible for.

So… who is responsible? She had made such strides in her first  two months of chemotherapy and was actually starting to feel somewhat better and her appetite had improved. She hadn’t felt the need for any painkillers until this past week, when the pains that had first alerted her to the cancer returned. Who is responsible for Mom’s declining health? Who is responsible for this debacle?

I guess the answer to who is responsible depends on what side of the “99% versus 1%” argument you favor.

If you’re in the 1%: “Of course it’s the 77 year old lady’s fault. She would have never allowed herself to become sick in the first place if she had her own vegan chef  and bimonthly trips to the health spa. Barring that, she should have more than enough money in the bank to purchase the best of health insurances and the best of health care… No depending on government programs necessary, unless you already have the politicians in your pocket. And if anyone causes you any guff—well, that’s what expensive lawyers are for. That’ll get you results. Good manners? Patience? Pfft! Those are for those who can’t afford to have their own way!”

If you’re in the 99%: “I followed all the rules, paid Social Security taxes all my life. I asked my doctor why I was experiencing these horrible pains in my abdomen, and he said he could only do certain tests because that’s all Medicare/my insurance would pay for and those tests didn’t give him any results he could interpret, and I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for more testing…”  OR  “I followed all the rules, paid Social Security taxes, but I’m not old enough to receive Medicare, and I’m unemployed and have no health insurance, and I can’t get any doctor to see me and diagnose these horrible pains…”

I think that pretty much sums up healthcare in the good ol’ US of A, don’t you?

The single-payer system where everyone can walk into a doctor’s office and receive the treatment they need—not what they can afford to pay without filing bankruptcy—makes more sense than ever. “But who will pay for it?” the 1% asks, pulling out their checkbooks and writing checks to political action committees. “We’re all paying for it,” reply the 99% who pay more and more in insurance premiums and taxes and receive less and less actual healthcare.

Face it—we ALL have been paying for it. And who has profited from this set-up? Our ever-advertising pharmaceutical industry and private health insurance companies. They continue to make record profits while everyday Americans continue going broke and making decisions like, “Heat or eat this winter?”

If there hasn’t been an “Occupy Healthcare” group sitting in front of a hospital or clinic somewhere, there should be.

What's your take on this issue? Are you making "heat or eat this winter?" decisions? Are you tired of not being able to afford to see a doctor, dentist and/or eye doctor? Are you happy you have a good insurance policy for you and your loved ones and don't care how your fellow citizens suffer? Don't be afraid to speak up in the comment section below.


A J said...

The overall impression I get of healthcare in the US since coming here nearly three years ago is one of shoddy, money-raking greed on the part of pharmaceutical companies and doctors.

Maybe I am blanketing the whole medical profession with one condemnation, but I think and feel the exceptions are increasingly few and farther between.

I was incensed when a public official was hounded from office recently for praising the British NHS system. It may have its faults, but at least treatment is available for all.

I sincerely hope your mom didn't lose too much ground during the hiatus, and that she feels much better soon.

Cindy said...

Well said, AJ. :)

You do wonder if the pharmaceutical industry/insurance industry aren't hounding the politicians out of office for speaking up in defense of the 99%. I don't see why--if we all become so poor we can't afford ANY medications or treatments or premium, then these industries will be put out of business.

I don't think they can survive serving just the top 1%, but I could be wrong.

Zo said...

I have pretty good insurance. But...I need to have my yearly physical and I'm putting it off. Last year my doctor did blood work, which I think should be considered part of an annual checkup. However, my insurance didn't cover the cost of the test and I got a bill for $140. I don't have that sitting around this year (didn't last year either), so I'm going to have to put off the checkup until I know what I can have done without extra cost. Sucks!

Cindy said...

Really, that sucks, Zo!

I hope you can get your tests done without extra costs, but I know it's not a "sure thing" nowadays. It seems healthcare in the US has become a luxury only for the wealthy.

At least I don't worry about the costs anymore--no health insurance, no visits to health providers who charge mucho dinero! Thank goodness my chiropractor doesn't charge too much for a visit.

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