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Meaningless Health Care Anecdotes from the Front

chicago dyke's picture

So one of my jobs is "caregiver" for several elderly family members. Tonight I was out at the Adult Foster Care unit where my Evil Grandmother lives, to meet her new doctor. Someone always has to be there for the intitial visits, as she has a tendency to lie and make up health problems she doesn't really have. Let me stress: Evil. Anyway, he was a great doc, obviously knows how to deal with elderly patients, took his time with us, and in general I feel good about this switch, however much she didn't want it (her old doc quit the visiting physician company he worked for so she had no choice).

Every time I do physician visits with my elderly family members, I'm really struck by how differently they are treated. Compared to my own health "care" experiences as a poor, uninsured person. My family (not counting me, of course) has done a bang-up job of hanging onto some really nice health benefits. Grandma is no exception; she even sued her last employer, successfully, when they got bought out by a large corporation and tried to fuck her and other retirees out of their contracted benefits. Sometimes, Evil pays. I wonder: how evil will I have to be, as I reach the stage when "I don't have insurance" isn't an option and I must seek care?

I've played some (not really) funny games over the course of my life with health insurance providers. I know I'm not alone. I'm sure most of you here would agree with me: they make you do it, they force one to be a 'sinner' in the sense that lying, cheating and misrepresenting your needs is the only way to be sure that you get what you actually need. This is so different than what grandma has to do. She tells her providers what's wrong, what she thinks is wrong, what she'd like to be wrong because that podiatrist is so handsome and she'd like to see him again...and everyone jumps to meet her needs. You can't tell me money doesn't play a big role in this. Grandma has government insurance as well as private insurance, and that's the same for the other people I care for, and it never ceases to amaze me, the lengths their providers are willing to go, the tests they get, all the techs and specialists and primary care time. Yes, I'm jealous. It's been...years, since I've seen someone with an MD or DO after their name for more than 10 minutes at a time. Not knocking PAs and RNs; those folks are professionals in their own right and I respect the work they do. But, you know, it would be really great to see someone with as much training as I have, for a change, even if it's only now and again.

The question I find myself asking tonight: will any of this be there for me, when I'm 85? My prospects of employment with phat benes are pretty slim right now, I don't expect that to change any time soon, not just because jobs are few and far between in this state, but because fewer and fewer corporations feel the need to offer them. Starving, scared slaves take what we can get, yo? And "independent contracting" is the employment wave of the future, in this country, in case you haven't noticed. /Laughs/ Yeah, like I can afford a private health insurance package on what my clients pay me, not. Further, all the chatter from people I trust suggests that Obama is "really interested" in the so-called ideology of "entitlement reform." Jesus I hate that phrase. Yo: if they are "entitlements" then there's no basis for "reforming" them. They belong to us as our dues for participating and paying taxes and fees in our so-called civilized society.

I can completely envision a future, or rather, my future, being one in which people like me actually live shorter and less healthy lives than our parents and grandparents. It's not like I failed to do everything and more that they did, in terms of being a "deserving" member of society. It's that so much of what I prepared for, was taught to believe would be there, the systems that I learned to negotiate...are evaporating before our very eyes. The trustifarian class doesn't understand this, not one bit, nor are they likely. The contrast between my life in DC or with the tony "I don't need a scholarship" club at UC taught me that- it'll take a lot more culling of our society's overall wealth before any of them take this sort of thinking seriously. But it doesn't make me hopeful, as I know how many of these types are devising policy and will be doing so in the future.

So far, I've been lucky. Vitamins, yoga, eating right, and flat out luck have kept me from the worst nightmares a la "Sicko" in terms of my health. But it's always a gamble, isn't it? Thank you, Everyone at Corrente. I really mean that. The fact that this blog is literally leading the charge towards civilized health care reform in this country is going to count for a lot, when it's all over. However "all over" may be defined for each of us. But the record will show, while other people are obsessing about hairpieces and basketball courts and which kinds various politicians choose, some of us were here reminding them of what their actual jobs are all about: serving the people who elected them, and finding ways to use the taxes we pay for things that we need. I don't mean to sound bitter or defeated, indeed, it was quite uplifting to see how "government health insurance" can work, and well, for someone who actually has it.

Instead: consider this a warning. If President Obama wants to tear down the Medi- programs so he can give rich people even more of our money to cover their incompetent asses, he'll be very, very sorry. Shit, you think I'm foul-mouthed, rude and inconsiderate? You really, really don't want to meet my grandmother, then. There's a Dow Jones major that can attest to this, personally as well as financially. And I'll wheel her ass to DC if that's what it takes. For his own sake, Obama better not make that a necessity. I'm merely one of millions with a very similar way of thinking. I've said it before, and as much as I diss Joe and Jane Sixpack American, I still think health care is the tinder that will spark the next 'revolution' in this country. If we're all going to die anyway, what do we have to lose?

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Comments

Submitted by lambert on

[sorry. Lost ocntrol there for a moment]

There's really nothing I can add to this, except it's great to see it all tied together like this. We've got to keep hammering. It's the only way.

Two points.

1. "Cheap labor." There, I said (in only two words ;-)

2. "wheel her ass to DC" and "what do we have to lose?" -- +100. Are you listening, professor?

Submitted by lambert on

Big time! Big time! The moment I have in mind is at 1:35-1:40 ;-) But by all means play the whole thing; I understand Robbie Robertson has a certain appeal...

Actually, this is a pretty good theme song for a movement, a propos not just for the title, but for the line at 2:04-2:05 -- "I turned 41, I don't mind dyin'..." Ahimsa, ahimsa, but wheeling your grandma, or me, for that matter, to DC falls under that heading...

trishb's picture
Submitted by trishb on

Then I'm gone, or at the least sharing my dogs' food. I work for a huge ass global conglomerate in a "professional" position. I have insurance, but I order most of my meds from India. The prices here are too high here even with insurance. $300/month vs $50/month. Health care is barely affordable. Etc., etc., etc. Oh, and don't ask me about my 401k, you already know the answer.

Funny how things have changed. I grew up with benefits that covered almost everything. My dad had a heart attack last year, with a helicopter ride from one hospital to another. The charges for the whole thing were insane. Dad was 66, so there was some Medicare and some insurance. Oh, that "some insurance" is from the days when he worked 38 years for GE. I'm sure you can guess what the overall bill might be - more than most people make in a year. My parents are lucky, and they damn well know it.

Also, back in the dark ages, they still had a pension when he started and some benefits guaranteed to retirees. So there was something you had beyond dog food to supplement the Social Security check.