Once upon a Time in America….

23 Jul

The story usually starts with an immigrant arriving and picking himself up over the poor and destitute to become rich and powerful. This was the real American dream, Streets of gold meant opportunity and the promise of freedom from tyranny. And if those fleeing immigrants suffered a poor and unglorified life their children or their children’s children would be able to experience what America has to offer.

Times have changed. America is no longer like those time period movies, we are not a nation of Gatsbys, if that ever was a compliment. All the new money we’ve made as the dominant imperial power of the 2nd half of the 20th century has gone to health care. We are no longer worried about feeding the homeless and starving people of other countries. Consider yourselves lucky as a family if you don’t have a family member who has had a costly surgery, diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, or god forbid, cancer. Each of these conditions is like a high roller slots machine. Furthermore, it seems wrong to blame an individual doctor for the state of health care in this country as it would be shameful and unthinkable to blame a soldier for a war they fight in but didn’t start.

Is it any wonder that many of the popular American dramas begin with a malady that isn’t covered or can’t be afforded. When the patriarch or matriarch of a family goes down with a condition, it isn’t unheard of to have the whole family help out be it driving them around, taking them to dialysis, or just figuring out how to pay for the massive medical bills. And that’s if you have insurance, if you don’t then the family may take the brunt of the eceonomic hardship. There is no surety in insurance. My mother’s latest knee surgery, a full replacement, cost her beyond 80,000, and she had to pay 20%. May seem worth it to get a $100,000 operation (including hospital stay, physical therapy, pain management) for the price of a cheap car, but consider that she has had 3 operations, pre and postoperative rehab, pain drugs, and hospital bills for over 6 months and it can strain any well implemeted budget. God forbid you didn’t plan for someone getting hurt.

Lots of people think they have insurance, but don’t know the ins and outs of their policy. That means they haven’t used it for seeing the doctor or physiotherapist or chiropractor… which means they are paying a company money either off their paycheck for insurance that will probably only cover the major traumas like surgery and expensive “medically necessary” operations. That is all good and well but what about the family that has a $10,000(ind)/$20,000(family) deductible. They are persuaded by the limits of their policy away from preventative, maintenance care medicine and therapies.

So the morale of the story of America now reads… Don’t get sick or hurt. It’s cheaper to die… Pay up the yinyang for a policy or several insurance policy that will cover all forms of care…. Or wait til your 65 to get the base minimum health care other free countries take for granted (which may not even be there by time we are all 65).

No critical article should end on despair, so you ask my solution: Don’t expect free health care. Expect to pay for what you get and demand quality health care from your doctors and believe me the prices for healthcare will drop drastically. Don’t trust insurance companies to cover everything and take care of yourself with preventative medicine, especially in middle age where different maladies may begin to present themselves. An ounce of knowledge yields a pound of life.


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