Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another (Slightly Rambling) View on Health Care

Our friend Robin has posted a good piece on Health Care Reform here:

Health Care Rationing

She points out that her son, who works in food service, pays a lot for an awful insurance plan. He is lucky. My employees can't pay anything for any kind of plan. I couldn't possibly afford to provide it. Husband and I are covered by his Kaiser plan from his employer. If he stops working there, we are both out of luck as well.

I pointed out in a comment on Robin's post that the idiots screaming about "Death Panels" have obviously never tried to shepherd an aging parent through our health care system. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the treatment he received amounted to minimal (and erroneous) diagnostics, and surgery to reduce the tumor and find out that the diagnostics had been off and he was much sicker than they thought.

Then they sent him home to die. Period.

We got no help from his "primary care physician." We were not referred to an oncologist. The only services he was directed to when he left the hospital were "home health'--which provided a constantly shifting array of inept nursing practitioners to come to house to "check on him" twice a week—and the place where we got his tube-feeding equipment and supplies.

No one gave us a prognosis. No one discussed with him or us what we could expect from the course of the disease. We had to scratch and claw for every bit of care he got, just to keep him comfortable. For four months.

A week before he died, when his hospice nurse had him checked into the hospital because he was unable to tolerate the tube feedings anymore and he was dangerously dehydrated, the resident on call at the hospital asked, "What is this man doing here?" Kind of like--"He's dying. He can't do that HERE."

And they made sure they got dad checked out of that hospital before he was in there long enough for Medicare to have to pay for the stay.

This was ten years ago. And let’s just say that I’m confident the system has not improved in the interim.

So who is getting all this great insurance coverage with all these choices and wonderful physicians that they don’t want to lose? And who is getting all the unnecessary procedures that they say are driving up the cost of health care? Who makes the decision that a 79-year-old man has lived plenty of life, and the dollars and the care need to go to someone else?

My family is slightly to the north of middle class, economically, and yet we are suffering substantially from the lack of accessible health care. Then I heard on NPR the other day that the West, particularly the Pacific Northwest, is a model for how well the HMO system can work. I looked at the radio like it had just vomited pea soup into my car...

Surely it’s evident that health care is just one more arena in which the wealthy are buying the right to control the outcome of the debate. Are we going to sit quietly and let that continue?


JACKIE said...

I knew it had been hard for your family, just not how hard.

Perhaps the best argument for a single payer, single provider system. I doubt if the results could be any worse and at least maybe everybody MIGHT, just might be on the same page.

Kathy said...

We shouldn't sit quietly and let that happen. I know that I pay plenty out of my weekly check for family coverage in a BCBS HMO. So far,we've had no difficulties getting coverage for anything that's been needed -- including some special stuff for Miss Em, but I worry the day is fast approaching when even the doctors, nurses and secretaries cannot figure out how to get BCBS to pay.

It's worrisome and frightening that people today cannot get basic care because it is UNAFFORDABLE if you don't have insurance. And the catch 22 is that it is unaffordable to purchase health insurance.