Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This entry says about half of what I’d like to say. I’ve got it in my head but getting it on paper is a problem sometimes. Oh, well, enter rant, stage right.

I know Lisa and I knew just a little of what her family went through during her dad’s final illness. Damn little it turns out.

In a twisted way, a very sick twisted way, what happened with her dad makes perfect sense. When our fellow Americans are referred to in the media it’s usually as consumers, not citizens and our mis-named health care system is not set up to deliver health: as if you could buy five pounds of health at so much a pound, but tests, procedures and surgeries. When Lisa’s dad was sent home, he was no longer a consumer of tests, procedures and surgeries.

At that point what he needed was human on human care. And when it comes to face to face, hands on interaction with another human being you have to fight like hell to get it. And the people who provide that care are lucky if they make a little above minimum wage. No reflection on them, the men and women in the trenches do the best they can with the little they get.

Dean Ornish made the comment in one of his books that a patient’s insurance company was willing to fork over at least twenty five thousand bucks to pay for by pass surgery but wouldn’t pay for office time for a doctor to counsel the patient on diet and exercise changes he/she could make to avoid needing the by pass in the first place or to avoid needing another one five years down the road.

“Reforming” health care won’t work until we rethink how we see the other human beings who live within the lines on the map labeled the United States. And that rethinking goes far beond the cost of an office visit. It's everything from access to clean locally grown food to cleaning up the toxic left overs that don't appear on corporate balance sheets. We’re human beings, not "consumers" and we have the right to be treated as human beings and to take the time to be human simply because that is what we are whether we choose to consume what the corporate culture wishes it could sell us or not.

The system, as it exists now, doesn’t support our humanity. So ladies, how do we remake the world?


Lisa :-] said...

The demise of health "care" in this country began many years ago. When healing became a "science," rather than an art, or a spiritual gift; when only top IQ's were courted by medical schools, rather than those with the natural talent or calling to heal; when medical schooling became so expensive only the rich could consider it, turning medicine into an elitist society; this is when our health care system started on its way to hell in a handbasket. And that had to have begun every bit of 100 years ago... The damage has only been accellerated by today's greed-fueled society.

Also, think about this for a minute: We whine about the days of our youth, when health insurance was good, and affordable. But if health care had not even then become an (over-priced) commodity, rather than a basic human right, we never would have needed health insurance to begin with.

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Kathy said...

This is such a huge issue ... but I like to think that if we had health insurance for only the 'big ticket items' and we had to purchase our office visits like we do, say, our groceries, we might have more of a say in just how we are treated and how much we are willing to pay.

For instance, those procedures currently not covered by health insurance (commodity) are now seeing a decline in price to consumers (grocery shopper) because consumers are not willing to pay an outrageous amount of money for something not covered by their insurance and are willing to forego a procedure because of self cost.

Imagine how consumers could push prices down if we had the opportunity to shop around for the best care at the best (and affordable to us) cost?

I say reform is needed but I also think we all should question the doctor, hospital, clinic: How much does this cost? And what does my insurance pay? Does it cost less or more if I pay cash or use insurance?

We need to be educated and informed consumers of health care. Just like everything else in life.