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The US Healthcare System Is So Fucked Up!
* Comments(5)

Yeah I know that’s no shocking news is it?

You hear about it on the news and every once in a while our politicians pay lip service to fixing the problem. But from where I stand it keeps getting worse and worse and it’s hitting closer to home.

Several months ago my friend’s company shut down so he and his family (wife and 4 kids) lost their insurance. Sure, in theory they could have bought COBRA insurance but that would have cost them more than $1000 a month. $1000 a month is a big chunk o’ change anyway, but when you’ve just been laid off it becomes that much more unfeasible.

Luckilly, they’ve been healthy and haven’t had any major sickness or accidents. But they and the other 46 million uninsured in America (as of April 2007) are just one accident away from bankruptcy. Healthcare costs are the top cause of bankruptcy in the United States. It’s sickening. (No pun intended.)

Which leads me to another friend who lost his health insurance when he lost his job. He also couldn’t afford the outrageous cost of individual health insurance, but his roll of the dice didn’t come out so well.

A few months ago he got appendicitis and had to have emergency surgery. Apparently they didn’t catch it in time because he got a major infection and had to stay in the hospital for two weeks. Long story short—a $32,000 medical bill. How’s an unemployed, single parent going to come up with $32,000. Sell a kidney? A 4,000 year installment plan?

So why am I so fired up today? Here’s the story…

18 months ago we moved from Honolulu, Hawaii to San Jose, CA for better job opportunities for my wife. (Hawaii’s cost of living is as high as California’s, but the pay in Hawaii is generally 20%-70% LESS than California and the mainland in general.) We were luckily able to afford COBRA coverage even though it was about 8x more expensive (over $600/month) since my wife’s employer wasn’t covering most of it.

So here we are 18 months later with COBRA running out in two weeks. Even though my wife has an MBA and 15+ years of experience, the only job she’s been able to find is contract work which doesn’t offer insurance. (And Google likes to act like they’re such a great and socially conscious company. But that’s another post.)

I’m self employed so that doesn’t help us at all in the insurance racket. So we had to go shopping on the open market for health insurance. Blue Cross of California seemed to have the best coverage and we were/are with Blue Cross Blue Shield with COBRA so we though maybe that would be the best choice.

I take two prescription medicines (over $400/month) and see the doctor about once a month in the past, but soon to be every four to six months. When I did the math it was cheaper for me to pay for the medicine and doctor visits out of pocket and just get a major medical insurance plan than it was for me to get a "comprehensive" (HA HA) plan.

I knew I was going to have trouble getting insurance. I’m exactly who the insurance companies don’t want—a person who actually needs insurance. So like I said, I applied for a major medical policy–one that doesn’t cover prescription drugs and won’t cover doctor visits until I pay the $2,500 yearly deductible (which is never going to happen unless I have a major emergency, which is exactly what the plan is for.)

Today I got the dreaded letter from Blue Cross of California. ENROLLMENT DECLINED! What’s the reason? Because I’m taking two prescription drugs and they say my "condition must be controlled with a single or less medication for a minimum of 12 months"! Uh hello, this insurance plan doesn’t even cover prescription drugs so how the hell can they deny me because I take them? They won’t be paying for them so how can that be a cause for denial? What a bunch of  BULLSHIT!!!!!!!

But out of the goodness of their heart (no actually required by law) they graciously offered me a HIPAA plan for 5x more money (over $600/month for ME ONLY. And with that great coverage I’d still have to pay 30% of doctors visits and—get this—for prescription drugs I’d have a $30 co-pay AFTER a $250 "brand name deductible" AND since one of my prescriptions has a generic version (which is crap even though they want to say it’s the same) and my doctor has the gall to prescribe the brand name which actually works, I then have to pay the difference in price between the generic and the brand name. That’s in addition to the $30 copay  and the $250 deductible mentioned above. All that on top of the $600 a month for the insurance in the first place. Gee that’s a fricking great deal, where do I sign?

That would make a hilarious Monty Python skit if it wasn’t really happening to me! "What? You want health insurance you can actually use? No, no, that’s next door…it’s being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here. What a stupid concept!"

Oh my head hurts just thinking about it. I think I need a doctor. Nope sorry we can’t allow that.

So that’s my story. I’m sure the other 46 million of you out there have similar happy stories. It’s fricking amazing. Somehow our country can rustle 10’s of Billions of dollars to fight a war, but fix this fricking healthcare mess. No sorry, we don’t have the will for that—but here’s a yellow ribbon bumper sticker you unpatriotic git!

Not that it’s all the pharmaceutical company’s faults but here are some numbers…
Johnson and Johnson’s CEO received salary and bonuses in 2006 of 28 million dollars, according to Dow Jones.
Merck CEO Richard Clark received 10 million dollars in compensation, according to AFL-CIO Corpwatch.
–When former Pfizer CEO Henry McKinnell left the company in 2006, he was given pension, stock and other benefits worth 180 million dollars, according to AFL-CIO Corpwatch.
CEO William McGuire, of UnitedHealth Group, a health insurance company, stands alone. His annual salary in 2005 was 124 million dollars and he has been provided stock options worth more than 1.7 billion dollars, according to Forbes.com. As part of his retirement package, he and his spouse will receive free health care for as long as they live, according to AFL-CIO Corpwatch.

Good work if you can get it…

But wait, there’s more…

Pfizer was recently fined 430 million dollars for attempting to defraud a government program.
Schering Plough paid a 500-million-dollar fine for manufacturing violations, and 345 million dollars for improper marketing of Claritin, an allergy drug, Rost says. (former vice president of marketing for Pfizer and author of the book “Whistleblower”.)

The Internal Revenue Service, has demanded that drug company GlaxoSmithKline pay 7.8 billion dollars in back taxes while Merck may be facing two billion dollars in back tax payments.

One of the biggest mistakes this country ever made was making healthcare a for-profit proposition. Sure doctors have always made good money and that’s not the problem. It’s corporations taking over hospitals and indeed the entire industry and making profit the primary motive instead of health. Squeeze out the costs by any means necessary. If that mean firing 20% of the staff then that’s the way it is. If that means paying minimum wage (and getting minimum wage quality) to the orderlies then so be it. Sorry gramps, you don’t really need that heart medicine. We know better than your doctor, we’re your HMO.

Add in the blood-sucking, ambulance-chasing lawyers, to the cost-cutting, no-coverage insurance companies, and the money-grubbing pharmaceuticals and you’ve got yourself a helluva stew don’t ya boy? You’ve got yourself a right nice money-making machine which uses human beings as grist for the mill. Fucking sick!

It’s awesome to live in the greatest country in the world isn’t it? Geeze why wouldn’t all the other countries of the world want to listen to us tell them how to build a democracy? We’re doing such a bang-up job with our own house aren’t we?

I could go on ranting for about six years but I’d better conclude. I’m largely a capitalist. I own my own business. I support self-reliance and I don’t support a welfare state. BUT there has got to be a balance.

How long will we as a country continue to worship at the altar of the almighty dollar? What about the people? What about the folks who are on the verge of bankruptcy because of this healthcare mess? What about people like the poor woman who just died in the emergency room of the Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles? She’s lying on the floor throwing up blood and the staff just ignored her. IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM OF THE HOSPITAL!

If you can’t get healthcare when your throwing up blood in a hospital emergency room, what the hell has become of our country?

 

5 Responses to “The US Healthcare System Is So Fucked Up!”

  1. Jon, on June 16th, 2007 at 7:10 am, said:

    You got most of the facts correct. My final bill was $46,000. The reason I lost my job is because at the time I was working at an Engineering Firm. Part of my job requirement was that I had to travel, and work late at night. At the end of 2005 my visitation schedule changed with my daughter. I went from having her 16-17 days a month to 21-24 days per month because her mother got a new job.

    Obviously this cut into my already limited ability to travel and they let me go.

    The reason I had to let my insurance expire was because although I have my daughter 80% of the time, I am still required to pay her mother child support. We set up Mediation to ask that the child support order be rescended, but she lied and said she was starting a new job in 90 days (first shift) and that our schedule would return to our original agreement. She never had a new job.

    I could have taken her back to court, but the Mediation (2 hours) cost me over $1000. And her mother lies whenever we go to court, which drags things out because we have to demonstrate she’s lying, and things get postponed etc. (The first time we went to court to establish visitation and child support she dragged it out for 8 months. $15,000).

    So, I got to experience two of the “Wonders” of America in a short period of time. Family Court, and the Health Care System.

    Oh, I forgot. When I went to the Hospital we originally went to the one operated by the University. (Great hospital but overwhelmed). While we were waiting is when my appendix split (it didn’t actually rupture, which could have killed me). I had a 102 F temperature, and severe pain in my side, but they kept me waiting. We were told I may have to wait up to 32 hours before I could see a Doctor. Luckily we had other options, so we left. But if I stayed I could have died sitting there inside a hospital.

    In the end, the hospital where I had surgery did take away a majority of my bill. So, it wasn’t all bad, but I still owe thousands, and I’m still paying child support.

  2. Michael, on June 26th, 2007 at 9:53 pm, said:

    Man you hit the nail on the head! I’m in the same boat and I can’t get healthcare because I’m self employed. This system is messed up. I really hope the democrats do something about it now that they’ve got the congress.

  3. Realitology » Blog Archive » Snakes and Insurance Companies, on July 25th, 2007 at 10:50 am, said:

    […] while back I posted about the fucked up nature of the US healthcare system. This is a bit of a continuation of that theme. A bit of backstory…I take two prescription […]

  4. AmereCitizen, on February 19th, 2009 at 2:14 pm, said:

    My plans:
    I keep my auto insurance up to date. Then if I need critical care – I drive my car TO the hospital and then drive my car INTO THE SIDE of the hospital, crashing it.

    Wala! My auto insurance will then cover my medical bills.

    Anyone with a better idea, please post.

  5. TOM RHODES, on April 3rd, 2009 at 12:48 pm, said:

    I AM INJURED OVER 4 YEARS AGO I WAS IN MY NEW HYBRID CIVIC HONDA 2004. IT WAS TOTALED BY A BITCH
    KNOWN AS CAROL E. BORG. SHE WOULD HAVE CLAIMED BANKRUPTCY IN THIS MATTER BECAUSE SHE WAS DRIVING ON KLONOPIN A STRONG ANTI-ANXIETY DRUG SHE WENT TO SLEEP ON BEHIND THE WHEEL. SHE WAS A FORMER ALCHOLIC WHO SWITCHED FROM BOOZE TO PILLS. SHE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN OF WITH BANKRUPTCY IF I SUED SO I ALL I GOT WAS $25,000 FROM THE BITCH.

    I SWEAR I WOULD KILL HER IF I HAD’NT BEEN BEND, OR.

    NOW I LIVE IN ASSISTED LIVING AND WANT TO DIE. I WOULD BE BETTER OFF DEAD THAN LIVING LIKE THIS, AND I WILL DO IT. FUCK AMERICA, I HOPE THIS COUNTRY AND THE WORLD ENDED DEC. 21, 2012. I AM PREYING THAT IT HAPPENS. NO MISPELLING HERE, I MEAN “PREYING” ON THIS COUNTRY.

    MY MOTHER KNEW I WANTED TO DIE IF I NOT BEING CONSCIENCE ABLE TO TALK WITH MY DR’S. I WANTED OUT,NOW I MEAN IT. FUCK AMERICA!!!

    I MEAN IT SO FUCKED UP I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE, PERIOD.

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