Healthcare musings

I’ve spent the past few days being ill, and am still trying to get through what looks to be another week of “recovery.”  Nothing “serious,” as in life-threatening, may need hospitalization, etc., but in terms of being abjectly miserable, it’s been right up there on my list.   I went to the local clinic Monday morning, and the diagnosis was a cold with a sinus infection.   I got a prescription for antibiotics, and a listing of over-the-counter medications to take, along with the usual “rest, and plenty of fluids” advice.   I’ll probably be back to work on Monday.   It’s all very standard, nothing remarkable about it – now.  As I’ve recovered enough, and with some time on my hands, I realized that yes, it is “remarkable.”  8 years ago, I would have been in some serious trouble with this .

You see, back then, I didn’t have health insurance.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want it, I simply didn’t have any money to buy it.  I was working a “bridge job,” something  which just barely paid enough to cover my rent, food, and transportation, and no margin whatsoever.  It was very much a job with no sick time or benefits, and if you didn’t show up for work, you didn’t get paid.  You might, if the boss was in the mood, be allowed to take the time off, but you would be put on shaky ground.  Even with the job, I would not have been able to pay the clinic fees, the prescription might have been beyond my reach, and I know the OTC medicines would have made a serious dent in my virtually empty bank account.   So what I would have been looking at was not just being sick, but a major financial blow and possible unemployment.  Compared to then, this illness (despite how I feel physically) is a piece of cake.  Yes, it’s miserable, and I have no voice left, but it’s not a looming financial disaster.

I’m reminded of that time, and that there are many others who face that situation today, every time I listen to some conservative expound on the joys of the free market in healthcare, or make a number of ignorant statements about why people don’t have health insurance.   They’ve never really had to face that themselves, or if they ever were without insurance, it was when they were young, healthy, and didn’t think they needed it.   I’ve got an idea for government savings, though.  Let’s take away their government health insurance.  No, really.  They have to find and pay for their own, totally out of pocket, no “employer subsidy.”  That includes if they were drawing a military retirement or state employee benefits.  Yes, some of them “took a stand” by not accepting the Congressional health plan, because they already had equal or better benefits from their previous government position.    I think we’d save a nice bit of change and reduce the deficit.  I also think that within a few months they’d be shoving it back into law as fast as they could manage.



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14 responses to “Healthcare musings

  1. Glad you’re feeling better and glad you have this stuff covered. It is a BHD to have health insurance.

    • Well, feeling better is a relative term. In terms of how I felt this weekend, much better. In terms of how I felt before this started? Meh. But yes, having insurance is a BHD. While I probably could have covered this out of my own pocket now that I actually have savings, it’s still nice. Its also nice not to have to worry about “gosh, I’m not going to make any money this week” because of that.

      It’s experience that makes me realize just how out of touch so many conservatives are with reality. They seem to have the idea that someone does without health insurance by “choice,” or they’d rather sponge off the taxpayers, or they’re unwilling to properly budget to purchase insurance or get another job to do that. The reality is that it often isn’t a choice – even if someone came in and offered $200 a month health insurance, I couldn’t have afforded it, there aren’t a whole lot of jobs to begin with – let alone second jobs. I saw an op-ed over at the NY Times by a former executive at Palm, and she said “The truth is that individual health insurance is not easy to get. I found this out the hard way. “

  2. Nathan Katungi

    I hope you continue to get better Norbrook. I am in the same situation, but in my case age seems to prolong and intensify what used to be a simple cold. And I really hate cold medicine with a passion because it makes me so disoriented. Thank you for highlighting the importance of having health insurance. I really do not understand how ordinary people can be fooled by wealthy people, like Dick Armey, to oppose universal health coverage. I suppose many of the middle class have never experienced huge medical bills, like I have, when you have a family member with a serious illness. I simply don’t get it when working class/middle class people buy into the idiocy of the super rich who never have to worry about health insurance.

    • Most of them have never had to deal with it, or are in serious denial that it could be them. There’s a remarkable lack of empathy in that group. I’ve run into it a lot, where people just don’t see the disconnect between their political beliefs and objective reality. If you look at it, it’s often “somebody else’s problem,” not theirs, or somebody “undeserving” who is receiving the same or better benefits than they do.

  3. It strikes me that a large part of the reason for people to believe “that someone does without health insurance by ‘choice,’ or they’d rather sponge off the taxpayers, or they’re unwilling to properly budget to purchase insurance or get another job to do that” is, as Norbrook says, that they “are in serious denial that it could be them.” Major illness is frightening; the financial devastation it can create is terrifying; it mustn’t, it can’t happen to good people like them; any suggestion that it could must be fiercely rejected.

    I say this because reading the above reminded me of a fellow horse owner’s reaction to Christopher Reeve’s accident during an equestrian competition that put him in a wheelchair. Normally a calm, intelligent, sensible person, she was bursting with indignant anger: it was all his fault, he was riding incompetently, he was way out of his league in that event, he put the horse in all wrong to the jump, it was all his fault! Her jeremiad bewildered me at first, till I realized it was her way of coping with the fear that all riders face (or refuse to face) to some degree, the fear of serious injury or death that riding horses inherently carries with it. If Reeve screwed up and caused his own horrific fate, in some way that insulated her, a skillful, careful, knowledgeable equestrian, against a similar disaster.

    • It’s not just denial about getting a major illness. It’s denial about a range of things. For example, people don’t really want to believe that they will lose their jobs, and that it might be a very long time before another job comes down the pike, or you find a job with anything like the benefits you once had. That the COBRA coverage has a time limit, and once that’s gone, you’re out of luck. It’s much more comforting to believe that you won’t lose the job, that another job has equal benefits, or that there’s a readily available “reasonably priced” insurance package available, if only you’re willing to look – and pay the premium. The reality that you can lose your job, that most other jobs probably won’t have the benefits you had, and “reasonably priced” health insurance packages are usually scams. Oh, and that any insurance company really wants to take you on.

  4. g

    And without insurance, you ‘ d have one less member of your blog. I assume I’ll hit 100 grand before my “odyssey” is over.

  5. Aquagranny911

    So sorry to read you have been sick. I’m sending you healing right now.
    I’m a Reiki healer so can’t help sending out the energy whenever someone is sick, forgive me if you don’t believe in stuff like that. Be well, Sweetie.

    I know very well what it is to be without insurance and not have money to go to the doctor or even pay for OTC remedies. I knew every home remedy in the herbal compendium. When my young Kiddos got sick, it was always the toss up of : Could they weather this on their own with “mom care” or would we have to somehow scrape up the $$ for doctor and medicine. No parent should have to struggle with how much the food budget could be cut so she can pay for a sick child to see the doctor.

    People who have it all, never seem to understand the terror of getting sick for those who have no medical insurance and live one pay check away from disaster.

    • Thanks. 🙂 You’re right, they really don’t understand it.

      One of the other things that showed that was the whole Republican attack line of “rationing healthcare.” As anyone who has done without insurance can tell you, it already is rationed. Even if you have insurance, it’s rationed, based on what the insurance company is willing to cover, which in practice turns out to be “as little as possible.” I know that from experience, having spent the better part of a year playing “bounce the bill collectors to the insurance company and back” deal over a decade ago. 🙄 I never thought someone would question the need for a cast on a broken arm, but yes, they did.

      • Aquagranny911

        I hear you! A few years ago one of my grandsons fell from a jungle gym and tore his ear lobe loose from his face. Their pediatrician sent him on to the emergency room where they repaired the damage and monitored him for concussion. My son had medical insurance but Blue Cross refused to pay, calling this an “elective” ER visit. He fought with BC for two years before they finally paid the bill. He wanted to go ahead and just pay it but I made him fight. He was paying big premiums for his insurance and they wanted to play games.

        I despise insurance companies, most are crooks, liars and parasites on people’s need and pain.

        • They were arguing over the second cast. The first cast was put on in the ER after the bones were set (comminuted fracture of the radius and ulna), and was a monstrous hand-to-shoulder plaster cast. 4 weeks in, the orthopedic surgeon decided to take that one off, and switch me to a fiberglass cast which only went 3/4ths of the way up the forearm. The funny (sort of) thing about the whole experience was that the worst pain I felt was when they removed the first cast. Moving my elbow for the first time in a month was something that made me want some serious morphine! 😆

          My sister, who drove me to the ER, still shakes her head about me there. I walked in, and the ER nurse asked what the problem was. I said “I broke my arm.” She asked 🙄 “What makes you think that?” I held up my arm, which had S-curve in a place that’s supposed to be straight, and matter-of-factly said “because my arm doesn’t normally look like this.” To this day my sister shakes her head, and says “I can’t believe you did that!” 😆

  6. kittypat

    This hits close to home NB . A family member is seriously ill right now and has not had insurance for quite some time, thanks to the ACA and the recent expansion of Medicaid in my home state it looks as if he will receive the treatment he so desperately needs. If he does not qualify for Medicaid he has the option of the high risk pool, for him and others like him it is a matter of life or death. My in-law is a lefty-libertarian type who is deeply distrustful of the government when I showed him the state site for the high risk pool he was very grateful because he had another option that was affordable and comprehensive.

  7. creolechild

    Norwood, I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling better, or a reasonable facsimile thereof! (: