Sickies.

I’ve been blessed — as an agnostic, I don’t use that word lightly — with good health all my life. I come from a sturdy line of people who generally live into their ninth decade, with no chronic diseases other than those time carries in its reeking baggage. My medical-history interviews are a chorus of no, no, no. Lucky me.

Lately it has occurred to me I won’t live forever, and may in fact see my lucky streak end with the usual degradations of cancer or heart disease or stroke or multiple blunt-force trauma in a bicycle accident. I’ve always had health insurance through my/our employers, but lately those employers aren’t looking so healthy themselves, so it’s something I’ve been thinking about more. So you might say I was ready for “Sicko,” and when someone offered me a screener copy, of course I said yes.Everything you’ve already read about the movie is true, so we don’t need to go into greater depth here: Yes, it’s entertaining propaganda. Yes, the Cuba sequences were ridiculous. Yes, Michael Moore is still fat. But hey, guess what else: It’s also a pretty excellent movie. Moore is at his most self-effacing and crafty, deliberately dialing down the childishness in favor of sincerity.

By concentrating not on the uninsured, but the badly insured, he makes it hard to distance yourself from the problem. If 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance, that means 250 million have at least something standing between them and a $250,000 hospital bill, and “Sicko” only confirms what many of us long suspected: There but for the grace of God, etc.There’s the woman whose ambulance ride after a car accident was denied, because it wasn’t pre-approved.  The woman whose husband was denied a bone-marrow transplant, and died. (And she worked at a hospital!) And there’s the woman who was denied cervical-cancer treatment, because she was too young to get cervical cancer, in her insurer’s opinion.

You can’t help but wonder how long before something like this happens to you. This isn’t journalism; it’s not even-handed. When he goes to France, and England, and Canada, and looks at the happy people there, we know there are others who aren’t. Mention universal health care in this country, and within seconds someone will bring up the eight-month waiting list for a hernia repair in the UK, or whatever. No one does this in “Sicko,” granted.But here’s something I don’t notice happening in Canada, either: People saying, “Let’s dump our system and adopt that of the United States, because that’s one that works like a Swiss watch.”

No one’s saying the National Health Service is a bowl of cherries, but at least after waiting your eight months or whatever, you can walk out of the hospital with the shirt on your back. Nothing is really free, and when Moore keeps calling government-subsidized care by that name you want to correct him — they’re all paying one way or another. But maybe this is what you can afford when you’re not flushing billions down the Pentagon’s toilets, too.

I know I quote Roy too often here, but I think he got to the heart of it with his post on the film, a few weeks ago:

 But there aren’t a lot of “gotcha” ambush moments. Instead, halfway through the film Moore seems to abandon the litany of despair to go to other countries where we meet people who are well-served by their systems, because their governments acknowledge that health care is a human right. And hearing their stories, and especially observing their lives outside the hospitals and clinics, we come to realize that health care is only part of the difference. What’s remarkable (and sometimes infuriating) about these subjects’ attitudes is that they take their superior care for granted. They expect more from their governments than we do — and, the film implies, that’s why they have it and we don’t.  Even hostile reviewers seem to pick up on this. The claim by National Review’s Rich Lowry that Moore is “the Riefenstahl of socialism” is hysterical but telling. Lowry is acknowledging the power of SiCKO’s real story — the story of a civilized world that, in some important ways, has left America behind, not by dint of socialism but by a different understanding of what the old Labourite Tony Benn calls by its right name: democracy.     

   

We look, after Moore’s propaganda film, like people who can’t quite let go of the other propaganda we’ve had sowed in our brains since birth: That the government can’t do anything right, and the market does everything better. Ask yourself if that’s true the next time you find your COBRA running out.

Posted at 1:36 pm in Movies |
 

39 responses to “Sickies.”

  1. Cynthia said on September 7, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, Nancy, where to start?

    I was going to post a screed about Michael Moore, but then decided my time is more valuable. The kindest thing I can think to say about MM is that he’s a fine example of our capitalist system. He figured out a way to make millions by bashing the U.S. and is laughing all the way to the bank.

    The anecdotes you cite from the movie leave me wondering if those were the whole story. The man who was denied a bone marros transplant – why? Was he so close to death that it wouldn’t have made any difference? The woman who was denied cervical cancer treatment – was that the end of the story? Oh, you won’t pay, um, well ok then. Did she fight the company? Did she get a reversal on that stupid decision?

    I’ve long thought that health insurance should be like car insurance. States (or the Feds if absolutely necessary) should set minimum coverage requirements coupled with a so-called “patient’s bill of rights” and then people can buy their own coverage. If they want more coverage or certain enhancements, they buy it, but everyone has to buy the minimum. Put this together with mandatory medical savings accounts and I think we would be lightyears ahead of every other country on the planet. When there is true competition in the market, consumers get the best product for the best price.

    Finally, I don’t feel I’ve been brainwashed into thinking the gov’t can’t do anything right. They provide clear evidence almost every day. Name for me one thing they do right? Katrina? Connecting those famous “dots?” Military spending? Gov’t spending? Collecting taxes from everyone? Social Security? Medicare? I could go on.

    I’ll take the free market anytime. I don’t want some gov’t idiot telling me what, when or where I can get my healthcare issues treated, thank you very much.

  2. nancy said on September 7, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Valid points. I wanted more information, too. But I’d argue that healthcare is a right, and that seems to be where I’d differ with the free-marketeers. When you attach a profit motive to a human right, you — and here I’m speaking of the universal you, not you personally — start to sound like those conservatives who believe slavery should have been allowed to go away “naturally” rather than ended by presidential fiat and civil war. So Mississippi might not have come around until 1967 or so; at least the government wouldn’t have been involved!

    It’s pretty obvious to me that the reason government keeps failing is, we expect it to fail. The Bush administration doesn’t give a shit about FEMA, so they give the job of running it to Brownie. The government built a pretty good interstate highway system. They maintain an enviable network of national parks (even if the timber industry wants the market to make them even BETTER!). We’re always being told our military is the best in the world; why, if they’re part of the evil government?

    No one is saying health care would be perfect under a single-payer system. But I’d hope fewer people would die waiting for their insurer to approve their treatment at an out-of-network hospital, as happened to a toddler in “Sicko.” 105-degree fever, 911 call, rushed to the closest hospital and Kaiser Permanente says wait, we won’t pay if she’s treated there. So they dither and dick around and by the time the kid is finally transported to the correct hospital, she’s in cardiac arrest and down the drain.

    The one thing about the Cuban sequence that I liked — the simple relief that these people got when someone finally listened to them. Yes, they were getting care no one else in Cuba outside of Castro’s inner circle was getting, I’d wager. But they weren’t getting the runaround, either. Why is this so hard, even for insured people?

  3. LA mary said on September 7, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Ever been without group insurance and not been able to afford individual? I have, and it’s miserable. It’s about eight times as much as car insurance for individual, and I don’t think there’s any mandate for insurance companies to cover pre exisiting conditions.
    I know lots of Brits, and although they complain about their healthcare system, they wouldn’t trade it for ours.

  4. Julie Robinson said on September 7, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Michael Moore is interested in getting people riled up, and in this case there is plenty to be riled up about.

    Two examples from my own life: After taking a job that involved standing, my feet started to hurt, alot. Doc said I needed a podiatrist, but our insurance had none. If only I had known I would have paid for one out of pocket. I went through two years of agony awaiting proper diagnosis and treatment, but the condition had become chronic and didn’t respond. 11 years later my life revolves around the level of pain for the day.

    Second example, different insurer: after getting my annual pap smear they refused to pay, citing wrong coding. But there is only one code, according to the doctor’s office and they had used it. For two years I would talk to different people; the first would say it was approved, the second, no, on and on. Asking for a supervisor only brought a voicemail that was never returned. This was not a strange or rare disease; millions of women have these done every year! Today I read that this insurer is paying $12 to settle complaints for applying wrong fee schedules, not paying claims promptly (it never paid mine) and being unable to correct problems.

    I’ve heard enough about problems with government run healthcare to not be naive and think it’s the answer, but Cynthia, there are already idiots running the free market system, and they are engaging in big time fraud.

  5. Danny said on September 7, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Plus the Brits save a lot on denistry.

    And they have Hedley & Wyche, the toothpaste that makes brushing a pleasure because its mild cleaning agent is enhanced by two teaspoons of pure cane sugar, for a smile that says “Yum, that was good!”

  6. Jen said on September 7, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    The man who was denied a bone marros transplant – why? Was he so close to death that it wouldn’t have made any difference?

    Wow, Cynthia, are you saying that insurance administrators paid a market-driven wage should be determining the insured’s prognosis?

    The real debate — and you’re close to touching on it in your post, even if you don’t quite get there — ought to consist of determining what is, and isn’t, included in this “basic” health care that is an inalienable right.

  7. LA mary said on September 7, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Danny, you think they have bad teeth, they think we’re morons because of our health system. Call it a draw.

  8. Danny said on September 7, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Way OT for a brief question.

    Nancy, do you know or have you heard of Lois McMaster Bujold?

  9. Danny said on September 7, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Mary, have you seen the SNL skit to which I was referring? It is hilarious.

  10. LA mary said on September 7, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    No. I didn’t see it.

  11. Danny said on September 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Here’s the transcript:
    Hedley & Wyche

    Spokesman…..Mike Myers
    Pub Owner…..Phil Hartman
    Barmaid…..Julia Sweeney
    Bobby…..Kevin Nealon
    Pub Patron…..Chris Farley

    [ open in British pub ]

    Spokesman: You like our pubs, and you like our fish and chips. And I’m about to let you in on another secret – Hedley & Wyche.

    Pub Owner: It’s the only toothpaste we ever use! [ smiles, revealing poorly-cared for teeth ]

    Barmaid: One tube last for years! [ smiles with rotten teeth ]

    Bobby: Actually, I’ve used it all my life, and I’ve never had to go to a dentist. [ smiles with rotten teeth ]

    Spokesman: Hedley & Wyche, is the toothpaste that makes brushing a pleasure. That’s because its mild cleaning agent is enhanced by two teaspoons of pure cane sugar, for a smile that says “Yum, that was good!”

    Pub Patron: And it tastes great on a cracker!

    Jingle: “Hedley & Wyche
    The British toothpaste!
    It tastes okay
    And it’s got great taste!”

    Spokesman: Hedley & Wyche. The British toothpaste. You don’t have to brush your teeth every week – but you just might want to!

    Announcer: Hedley & Wyche. For a smile that says, “Yum, that was good!”

  12. nancy said on September 7, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Don’t know Lois. She’s a few years older than me, and UAHS is, and was especially then, a very big school.

    Don’t get me started on pre-existing conditions. People who are perfectly willing to pay for health insurance can’t get it because of this racket. A typical example, via communist NPR: A healthy, 40ish woman who looked for months, always getting turned down because of her Type 1 diabetes. Finally she found a company that would take her, but would only pay claims not related to diabetes. Ha. If you have diabetes, EVERYTHING is related to it, and what’s more, if you don’t pay close attention to those little things, they can become big things very fast, so of course you want coverage for the little things. She finally found coverage and paid for several months before filing a claim, which was never paid. Every call to the company said, “It’s in the mail,” etc. Finally, with the bill in collections, she learned the truth: The policy was a con, set up by people looking for people like her.

    This is how bad it is: There’s a strong profit motive in defrauding the system, for people inside and outside the law. I ask you.

  13. LA mary said on September 7, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Mitt Romney says we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we aren’t paying for uninsured people’s healthcare already. We’re just paying far too much, and that’s true. An ER visit for what started out as a minor illness costs all of us way too much.

  14. Jolene said on September 7, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Just checking here. NN.com is telling me a comment I tried to post has, in fact, already been posted, but it’s not appearing. Small delay or is something weird happening? No need to answer.

  15. Cynthia said on September 7, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    I agree that there is a lot to be desired with a lot of health care companies and the plans/coverage they offer. My point is that if health care is offered as an idividual product, subject to mandated regulations and whatever safeguards you want to build into it, then the cost would go down, the inferior companies would lose customers and every one would be better covered at lower prices. Having to depend on your employer and whatever crappy plan they provide is what leads to a lot of what you folks are pointing out. Putting the buying power in the hands of the people and the freedom to kiss a bad company good-bye is a good thing.

    Also, I wasn’t being callous about the man who needed a bone marrow transplant. When it comes to Moore, I just know there has to be more to the story. My cynicism was directed at him.

  16. Julie Robinson said on September 7, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Yea–my sister has diabetes and just had to buy more stuff for her meter. It’s a fluid that you use to calibrate it. You can’t use the meter without it, but it’s not covered by health insurance. Where is the logic in that?

    Anybody got a link to the toothpaste skit? I could use some laughs.

  17. Jolene said on September 7, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    I am a little afraid that 20 versions of this comment might appear. If so, please forgive me, but I especially wanted to send the link below.

    ******************
    There is so much to say on this topic that I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just say two things re my own current situation and point to a brief research report that says more than most of us would like to know re our health care system. You want data, just ask me.

    As for me: Pre-existing condition, currently on COBRA. Yes, I’m worried.

    Here’s the report. If anything, it confirms Moore’s main observation: Even those who should, given their insurance status, be getting decent care within our current system, are not getting it.

  18. Jolene said on September 7, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Cynthia:

    To prevent skimming (i.e., the practice of selling health insurance only to the healthiest customers), an approach of the type you suggest would require extensive regulation. The government involvement in the healthcare market that concerns you would still exist w/o necessarily increasing access to coverage–not to mention that such a program would do nothing to improve the quality of care.

    I think there is a lot to be said for the idea that we should expect more of our government. We have been electing leaders who hate government. Why, then, would we expect government to perform well? The people in charge at the highest level are not only not working to improve government performance; the political appointees are actively interfering w/ the efforts of the professional staff to improve the health of the public.

    Here’s one example.

    If we allow our government to act in this way w/ regard to an important public health issue, then, indeed, we shouldn’t expect that a taxpayer-supported healthcare system would operate in our interest.

  19. nancy said on September 7, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Jolene brings up a good point, Cynthia. The efficient market you describe works well with widescreen TVs, but maybe not so good with healthcare, as the practice of skimming demonstrates. If a private-insurer system is to work, it’ll have to be on a government-regulated level playing field; i.e., they’ll have to take everybody. Certainly smokers or those who willingly engage in high-risk unhealthy behavior should pay more; maybe people with more children or dependents should pay more. But everyone should be able to pay, which means more regulation, i.e., lowered premiums for the poor, etc. It’s a complicated problem I doubt will be solved in my lifetime. But I’d like to see us try.

  20. Jolene said on September 7, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    Or maybe insurance should cover smoking cessation programs and treatments, as well as weight management programs and even bariatric surgery. Addictive behaviors (e.g., smoking) and other behaviors that are both culturally and biologically determined (e.g., eating) are notoriously difficult to change. The body resists.

    W/ two-thirds of the country overweight, it doesn’t seem likely that we are likely to get far by hoping that those affected will develop more willpower or that they will be able to respond effectively to economic incentives over the long term.

  21. brian stouder said on September 7, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Well, a few observations from the cheap seats –

    First, here in Fort Wayne, the hospitals are never NOT expanding; they are ALWAYS pouring new cement and erecting new steel and renovating and acquiring. My crude understanding is that they are ‘non-profit’, and therefore have to take the cascades of cash that apparently rains down upon them and immediately expend it. Parkview Hospital, formerly the domain of a FONN.c (friend of Nance) seems to be literally on the path to keep renovating there Randalia campus right up to the day they shut it down (probably in the next 5 years or so) whilst simultaneously building a whole new facility in the northern suburbs.

    Why should hospitals relocate into former farm fields in the outer suburbs? Because that’s where the money is? But the folks who have real money and choices blow Fort Wayne off altogether and go to Indianapolis for their healthcare.

    Some sort of hybrid base-line national coverage/HMO is necessary, in my opinion; much like basic public education (which some people STILL bitch about to no end)

    Oh, and anybody who thinks corporate America acts more rationally than government is simply divorced from reality.

  22. john c said on September 8, 2007 at 7:31 am

    My only quibble with our venerable web host is the term “right.” I don’t think health care is a right. It’s too broad a concept to be a right. All I think is this: A country as advanced as ours should be able to agree that, if we all chip in a bit and pay for a system that covers everyone, no one will get ruined because they or someone they love got really sick. I don’t think that’s socialism. It doesn’t have to be some huge government bureacracy. But we have too many smart people – and too much money – not to be able to figure something out. Will it be perfect? Of course not. But it will be civilized. (Or is it civilised?)

  23. Colleen said on September 8, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Under the current system, we don’t have government employees deciding on treatment, we have insurance company clerical workers doing so. I have actually read my policy….in it is a sentence that made my head explode: “If we determing the treatment as medically necessary…..”. Um. Did “we” go to medical school? My DOCTOR should make that determination.

    I have really good insurance. Last year when I had my appendix out, I spend less than 24 hours in the hospital, and the bill was more than 20 grand. We paid between 1-2 thousand when it was all over. But still. I got one claim turned down because we didn’t call and pre-approve for….wait for it….the ANESTHESIA.

    I also think our current system keeps people tied to jobs they loathe (and may actually be negatively affecting their health…) because of insurance, and it discourages people from striking out on their own because of health insurance issues.

  24. Danny said on September 8, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Julie, here is a link to the video of the Hedley and Wyche skit.

  25. Danny said on September 8, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Well, despite my best efforts to turn this thread into a vacuous humor fest, you’ve all managed to have some really interesting discussion. This is my first legitimate day off in a while and it has been nice to have time to read and digest some of the linkage on health care.

    I tried to take off last weekend (not Monday), but it ended up not being relaxing because my wife developed a herniated L4-L5 disc early Saturday while we were just putzing around in the garage. Thankfully, I was home or she may have been laying in a pile on the floor all day. As it is it still took 2.5 hours before I could get a prescription called in, pick it up, have her take it, have it take effect, and then, finally get her to urgent care.

    Our coverage is above average, but even in this recent situation we encountered many of the frustrations, idiosyncrasies and downright stupid disconnects that you all are describing.

  26. Cynthia said on September 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Nancy & Jolene,
    I agree with you completely that health care companies would have to accept everyone. I also agree that smokers, the overweight, etc. should have to pay higher premiums. That provides a built-in incentive to stop smoking, lose weight.

    I understand that there will be gov’t regulation and lots of it. I would want those regulations to level the playing field for all consumers of health care policies. Then we have to have a system of auditing these companies to verify compliance.

    I disagree that we should expect more from our gov’t. The less gov’t the better in my opinion. I read with interest your link about the breast feeding situation, Jolene. The first thing that came to my mind is why does the breast feeding group want the gov’t to create those ads? Why don’t they do it themselves and buy public service air time like lots of other advocacy organizations?

    Obviously, I’m more of a libertarian than you folks.

  27. Jolene said on September 8, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    It was the professional staff of agencies concerned with public health within the Dept. of Health and Human Services that wanted to launch the public information campaign–specifically, the Office of Women’s Health. Their efforts were based on a report, issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, another HHS agency, showing that such campaigns help to increase the rate and duration of breastfeeding.

    Private groups supporting breastfeeding lobbied on behalf of the proposed campaign, but it was the lobbyists for the manufacturers of baby formula (most of whom are pharmaceutical companies) that carried the day.

  28. Julie Robinson said on September 8, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Danny—Thanks so much! What a hoot! Those truly were the glory years of SNL.

    Anyone had a baby lately? How musch does that cost these days? Our daughter, born in 1980, cost about $3000 for a standard delivery, three day stay. Recently saw a bill my mother-in-law had saved from her first, in 1940. The bill was $40 and she stayed in the hospital for 10 days.

    But speaking of glory days, when our son was born in 1987 we had this fantastic insurance that was started by local doctors. No premiums, doctor visits were free and prescriptions were $3 (or the other way around). We paid a $25 fee to the obstetrician and not a penny to the hospital.

    We have this same company again in hubby’s new job and are paying $7500 just in premiums for the family. Doctor visits are $20, prescriptions anywhere from $20 to $40, and I don’t even want to look at the cost of a hospital visit.

    I think Colleen is on to a good point about people staying in lousy jobs just for the insurance. And if you still have student loans to pay off, as most do for 10 years after college, what is the chance you can take a risky position, such as being an entrepeneur?

  29. Jolene said on September 8, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    This topic is one of my personal hobbyhorses, as well as one in which I have some professional expertise, so I could cite statistics all day, a temptation that I’ll resist. I will, though, add a couple of links to the quality report I referred to above.

    A study comparing healthcare costs in the United States and other rich nations over a 23-year period indicates that we are spending much more per capita on healthcare than those other countries.

    . . . at least 24% higher than in the next highest spending countries, and over 90% higher than in many other countries that we would consider global competitors. . .”

    The rate of growth in healthcare expenditures in the U.S. is higher than in all but a few countries whose expenditures were very low in 1980, the earliest year for which data were available.

    “The U.S. average annual growth rate (4.4% from 1980 to 2003) was the second highest among the countries analyzed. The combination of a relatively high level of per capita health spending in 1980, and a relatively high level of growth in that spending between 1980 and 2003, resulted in the very high level of health spending per capita that we see now in the U.S. relative to other countries. For example, while Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark had levels of per capita health spending roughly comparable to the U.S. in 1980 (Exhibit 2), they had much lower average annual growth rates in health spending than the U.S. over the 1980 to 2003 period. Other countries with relatively high average annual growth rates over the 1980 to 2003 period (e.g., Luxembourg, Norway, Ireland) started the period at relatively low levels of health spending per capita relative to the U.S. Annual increases in per capita health spending slowed in the U.S. between 1990 and 2003, but even that growth rate (3.6%) equaled or exceeded the rates in more than half of the analyzed countries over the period.

    A very high percentage of these costs stems from administrative costs, and a very high proportion of the healthcare workforce is involved in administrative work. According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine,

    “administration accounted for 31.0 percent of health care expenditures in the United States and 16.7 percent of health care expenditures in Canada. Canada’s national health insurance program had overhead of 1.3 percent; the overhead among Canada’s private insurers was higher than that in the United States (13.2 percent vs. 11.7 percent). Providers’ administrative costs were far lower in Canada.

    Between 1969 and 1999, the share of the U.S. health care labor force accounted for by administrative workers grew from 18.2 percent to 27.3 percent. In Canada, it grew from 16.0 percent in 1971 to 19.1 percent in 1996. (Both nations’ figures exclude insurance-industry personnel.)”

    We are paying more than the citizens of comparable countries, the rate of healthcare expenditures in the U.S. is growing faster than in those countries, and about one-sixth of our citizens have no insurance at all. Further, as the examples above indicate, even those of us who have insurance regularly encounter difficulties in obtaining authorization and/or reimbursement for reasonable care.

    The next time a politician–or anyone–says that we have the best healthcare in the world, you should immediately assume that person is ignorant of many important facts.

  30. nancy said on September 8, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Julie, let me guess: You had/have PHP, right? The plan that went from nirvana to hell in about four years.

    Colleen’s point is one I’ve thought many times myself: How much pent-up energy could we release in this country if people were freed from this millstone? What sort of entrepreneurs would feel free to chase a dream if they didn’t feel yoked to a job just because it has health insurance? Single coverage when you’re young isn’t so much money, but for those with chronic conditions, or for families, it’s just out of the question.

  31. Julie Robinson said on September 8, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    You’ve got it Nancy, PHP. Also the plan that screwed me over when my feet started hurting. I could go on all day about all the ways.

  32. Ricardo said on September 8, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    I just want the same kind of (taxpayer-funded, government-operated) insurance that Dick Cheney has.

    I have suggested that California partner with Canada for health coverage. If that becomes a failure, then move on to something else. If it works, it could be a pattern for the rest of the country. All of the anecdotal scare stories, urban legends, and what ifs could be put to rest with an actual trial run. Canada has the experience and California is willing (yes, Arnold wants it) to try universal health care, and has the bucks to back it up.

  33. Laura said on September 9, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I had one thought the entire time I watched “Sicko”: thank God I have a PPO. I pay dearly for it (now, $1200/month), but I been covered for just about everything.

    Plus, since the one of my (many) meds costs $40,000/year to be filled, I still get to feel like I’m sticking it to the man.

  34. ashley said on September 9, 2007 at 11:25 am

    $40k a year? Damn. What’s the street value?

    Traditional plans are going the way of the dodo. I like HMOs when they’re done well. Problem is, they’re never done well. I used to work for an excellent HMO (LAMary — it was Pacificare), which simply contracted with providers and employers. From what I’ve seen, the problem with HMOs comes when they’re both the provider and the plan administrators.

    I am forced to use a PPO because my employer is in Chicago, and I live in New Orleans. Most HMOs have geographical restrictions.

    When I had the motorcycle wreck in Cali, my insurance had run out the week before. This, while being an independent contractor working at an HMO. Fortunately, since the guy left the scene, the “Victim of Violent Crimes fund” paid for all of the initial bills. At that point, I did some research on which employers had Pacificare, and got a job with one of them. Pacificare covered pre-existing conditions, so I worked there 7 weeks, had a surgery and 7 weeks off, and then put in my 2 week notice and COBRAed.

    Thank God my COBRA didn’t run out until I got more real insurance.

    This is pathetic. The only people in the US that get US subsidized health care are the military and prisoners. Oh, to get prisoner-level healthcare.

  35. leslie said on September 9, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I’d like to point out an important difference between car insurance and health insurance: if you can’t afford car insurance, you can choose not to own a car. There is no getting away from the body, however, no matter how poor you be.

  36. Jolene said on September 9, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Leslie’s reference to car insurance points up both a similarity and a difference. The similarity: Unpredictable things happen. The difference: The unpredictable things that happen to the body may affect our lives forever and in multiple ways.

  37. Jolene said on September 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    And one more thing re our system of connecting employment and health insurance: In many cases, it’s the people who have the most–i.e., steady jobs w/ good incomes–who get the most. Those who work in low-income jobs are, in general, much less likely to get insurance through their jobs.

  38. Laura said on September 9, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Ashley, the street value for herceptin is sadly low, as it works only on (about 25percent) breast cancer patients who carry a rouge protein that makes cancer want to return. No crazy side effects either, so it can’t even sell to those wishing hair loss or nausea.

  39. harry near indy said on September 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    folks,

    if you want to read more about health care, i strongly recommend ezraklein.com. he writes a lot about it, and writes well.

    i would’ve submitted this comment earlier, but my isp was down this weekend.