As of this moment, 324 people have visited this blog this morning, making a total of over 3500 since Monday, which I am pretty certain is a record by a wide margin. Most of them, sadly, have come here thanks to an anonymously written right-wing email that some one attributed to myself last spring. Because the hysterical campaign against the President is growing in volume, the circulation of the email is growing as well. (You can read the full history of the email here.\\
Meanwhile, however, the increased traffic has in one way or another brought interested people to the site, people with something to say about health care and other issues. One such just posted a comment--and I would like to ask everyone who gets here today to go ahead and read it and ask yourself if you are really satisfied with the health care in this country.
My thanks to the author, whose story is far more eloquent on this topic than I could ever be.
"Re NHS services in the U.K: Our daughter spent six months (2002-2003) as an undergrad student at Pembroke College in Cambridge. We were urged to purchase student health insurance coverage for her despite the presence of NHS in England, and we did so. It was a waste of money. She had one brief illness while there and did consult with a physician. As with David's experience above, she found the NHS the way to go, and also found that her "insurance" was more of a hindrance than help.
"We are a blue collar couple in our late 50's. My husband is clinging to his physically demanding job despite severe rheumatoid arthritis that leaves him in pain at the end of each work day. Every time he sees his rheumatologist he's told to quit. He stays because our health insurance is tied to his job and because I also have a chronic condition that would go untreated without insurance. We have a profoundly autistic son who was just kicked off our insurance arbitrarily at age 22, despite our repeated compliance in providing physician's forms certifying that he is never going to be able to care for himself. If his care defaults to Medi-Cal, he will not be able to see his present neurologist for care of epilepsy and our area has no other neurologists who will accept Medi-Cal as payment. He will also be refused dental care (but cannot speak to tell us when his teeth hurt). We lost our home years ago as a result of having to pay childhood medical bills for our son during the very early years of the explosion of autism--years when insurance companies classified autism as a non-covered mental illness. Doctors in every specialty including family practice who accept Medi-Cal are all but nonexistent in our area. I'll be spending today working to again prove our autistic son's disability to the insurance company.
"Meanwhile, our grad student daughter's (History, U.C. Irvine)insurance comes & goes, entirely dependent on when she is actively working as an instructor as opposed to periods of fellowship work on her PhD. She is the poster child for starving student; she's done it all on her own because she had to, but she is also only one serious illness away from losing all she has worked so hard for.
"Our oldest son followed his father into a service trade and has a wife and two children. While the trade is one that blessedly has not yet experienced deep layoffs, our greatest collective fear as a family is loss of that all important job--not because we could not eat or pay the rent (we'd figure that out) but because we'd lose our health care.
"Something must change, and I voted for change. I pray that President Obama hits this one out of the metaphorical park. We need it.
"I arrived here as a result of that awful forwarded email. I'm glad I found your blog. I'm not a regular on any blog, but I enjoy your insight and will return!"
In response I am going to share a story of my own.
William Strauss, as many of you know, was my college classmate, close friend, adn the co-author of the theory of generations and turnings upon which so many of these commentaries is based. He actually earned his living for the last 25 years or so of his life as the producer of the comedy troop, the Capitol Steps. He and his co-owner provided a health plan to all the members of the troop--about 25 of them I think.
In 1999 Bill got pancreatic cancer. Fortunately he was a candidate for a new procedure that initially restored him to full health and left his pancreas cancer-free for the rest of his life. However, within a few years the cancer was in his liver as well, and between 1999 and 2007, when he died, he had several chemotherapy treatments that required significant hospitalizations. The interesting part of the story is that just a couple of years after his operation, as I recall it, the insurance company informed the Capitol Steps that there was going to be an enormous increase in their group premium--more than 100%, as I remember. It was obvious what was happening: they wanted to recover the money they had had to pay out on Bill's treatment! Since the enterprise could not afford the increase, Bill dropped out of the plan--fortunately he was able to get insurance through his wife, a public servant. Otherwise he would have gone bankrupt, died years earlier than he did, or both.
Yes, readers, there is a very serious health care problem in America that needs--I will not shrink from the word--a radical solution.