A week ago, many Time Goes By readers who are also elderbloggers joined together writing in support of health care reform. All that day, I was scrambling to get links posted to every story written and to contact media organizations to perhaps take notice that, unlike so many elders at town hall meetings, there are a lot of us who are informed, passionate and believe everyone should have access to health care at least as good as our Medicare.
None of the media folks took notice (oh well, I tried), but a whole of lot readers did. Maybe we changed some minds, or maybe we were preaching to the choir. If the latter is all that happened, it is still important. I know a lot more about health care and reform now than I did before 20 August and anyone who read through these essays must also have learned a few things.
Another plus for me was how terrific it felt to have us all come together on one topic at the same time.
Because I was so busy that day, I have gone back during the past several days to carefully re-read every post. Each one in its own way is well-thought out, informative, compelling and useful. Please take a bow, everyone.
While re-reading them, I pulled out some quotations and today, I've organized them into some broad categories to give you a sense of what we have been thinking about health care reform. Writers names link to their 20 August posts.
HOW THE CURRENT SYSTEM WORKS
“Here’s what happened to Jerry’s wife. Some years after he took out the insurance, she discovered that she had metastasized breast cancer, the same thing Elizabeth Edwards has. It would eventually kill her, but there were treatments which could significantly prolong her life. She was given chemotherapy and the cancer went into remission. The tumors were not gone, but they were no longer growing. After another year they came back. Jerry got a letter from Group Health saying they would no longer cover Susy’s cancer.”
“...if nothing is done, you probably won't be able to afford your health care in a very few years. Even if you are able to get insurance, or are on Medicare, you will no longer get the quality of care you now enjoy. Those who are frightened by the lies being put out by the insurance industry should really be frightened if nothing is done.”
“My daughter recounts her recent experience at the pharmacy where she was told that her insurance company would not pay for the medication prescribed by her doctor until she first tried another medication. WHAT?! The insurance company knows better than her own doctor what she needs to be taking? Ridiculous!”
“It's easy to sit back and tout that America has the best doctors and hospitals when you are amply insured with a good job; far different viewpoint if you were among the people affected by loss of employment, impossible COBRA payments, and/or suffering from a possible terminal illness that your insurance company denies coverage for.”
"My mother lived to 89. She was completely demented; did not know who my father was, or who I was; saw visions and finally spent most of her last days unconscious...For the next two days my comatose mother was enthroned on a kind of pedestal bed with multiple tubes from her body to multiple machines. Then she died. Those two days cost Medicare $10,000 in 1995. Assuming those multiple machines could have saved her, what would be the point? So more money could be spent on maintaining a completely meaningless life?"
“The one time we did file a claim against our (at that time) $5,000 deductible, was when my husband was sent to our regional hospital by ambulance with a life threatening case of pneumonia. He had woken up at 4AM coughing blood. It was our doctor's decision that he needed to be in the intensive care unit at the larger hospital. Our insurance refused to allow the charge saying he wasn't ill enough to be in the hospital. That's how much you can trust insurance companies.”
Nancy B: (a nurse)
“A woman went to the hospital for surgical removal of a suspicious breast lump. When the surgeon went to remove it, it was obviously malignant and spread to lymph nodes. He removed the breast lump, the breast and some of the lymph nodes. The HMO denied coverage because the surgeon did not call the managed care organization for pre-authorization for a mastectomy instead of lump removal.”
“In any HMO today, you cannot go to a specialist without prior approval unless you are paying for it yourself. You can only receive covered second opinions from those who are in the same insurance package. What makes some Americans believe that insurance companies care more about them than the government? Where is the evidence for that? Our current system? You jest.”
“I just don’t understand why people think that corporate-run health care will look out for their interests. Corporations, by their very nature, are in it to make a profit. So, logically corporate run health care needs to maximize premiums and minimize payments so that they can make a profit.”
“There are, of course, people who don't want you to think health care is a moral issue. In fact, they want you to believe you couldn't possibly understand the issues. Mostly, they are folks who make a profit from selling medical care, drugs, and above all insurance. (Aside from the insurers and the drug companies, some of them also do care if you are sick and try to help you, if it is not too costly for them.) For them, health policy is complicated, because they are continually redesigning the system so they can make the most money out of it for themselves. They are fighting for survival and will do anything they have to do to hang on to their profits.”
“Every discussion of health care reform should begin with a recitation of the facts: the growing number of uninsured, the fact that we spend 16% of GDP on health care compared to 7-9% in Canada and Europe yet have inferior results, the fact that the reform plans being discussed are middle-of-the-road compromises between people who want single-payer and people who want the status quo. This week came word the public option might be dropped. This is dreadful news, capitulation to the powerful insurance companies and evidence their scare tactics may have worked.”
Robbin Roshi Rose:
“Health Insurance companies, on average, keep 35 cents of every dollar as profit. This is more than casinos (who are notorious for tricking you into giving them all your money)!”
HOW IT COULD/SHOULD BE
Paula H. Cohen:
“Today, we’re both on Medicare, but buy a mid-level Medicare supplement HMO plan from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The supplement includes a drug plan and costs $119 a month, bringing our total outlay for health insurance to $216 a month/per person.
“Thanks to Medicare and the supplement plan, we’re saving about $800 per month for the two of us. Thank you, US taxpayers and government bureaucrats.”
“On the whole, people with Medicare like it. My Dad who is a Rush Limbaugh Republican and who has Medicare and great cheap secondary insurance through his former employer has no complaints about Medicare. A lot of people think government can't possibly run an insurance program well but it seems to me that Medicare is proof that a public insurance program can work.”
“I’m also a hospice worker, and I’ve seen close up what happens to people who choose the rationed, socialized, death panel way: they die peacefully, at home with their loved ones.”
“...it seems likely–after we are both retired–that in order to get complete health care coverage, we’re going to have to spend four or five hundred dollars a month (including $200 that goes straight back to the government). Oh, well. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I’ll have coverage and I can just about afford it.”
Faith Davis Ferris:
“I'm aware that no solution or plan is without it's costs, downsides or difficulties. But it's far harder to imagine how the potential of losing everything one has by having no health care insurance (or avoiding treatment due to the same) is preferable?”
OTHER NATIONS' HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS
“Any procedure that is needed to be done immediately [in Germany], you usually can get an appointment at a specialist or hospital right away. For preventive procedures, you might have to wait a 2-3 weeks for an appointment at a specialist. “Your state insurance company compensates you your income if you are ill for longer than a six-week duration. Under six weeks, your employer continues to pay your salary. “The insurance costs are a fixed percentage of your monthly salary. At the moment, the costs are somewhere between 12-13% of your salary.”
“Without the NHS [in the United Kingdom], I probably would be dead by now, because of the stresses of the crippled life I would have faced. Without the NHS I wouldn't have a wife - she has MS and would probably again have died by now without the health and social care we can take for granted here. Without the NHS I wouldn't have a daughter - my wife had several miscarriages and without NHS treatment she would never have carried a pregnancy to term.”
“I nursed my husband through Cancer over six years; all but nine weeks were at home. The [U.K. health service in Northern Ireland] services came to us. A hospital bed and many items were provided to aid me in looking after him. I suppose with hind-sight I could have made more noise and demanded more help. It was my wish to look after him myself and kept going as long as I could. All medications were provided and on one particular difficult day alone, I had three Doctors call to our home.”
[Comparing systems in Sweden, France and the U.S.] “I do not know one European who would want the American system. In general, Europeans pay half, or less, compared to Americans, for good health care. There is nothing wrong with a government-run program, and it is much cheaper, in fact.”
Marian Van Eyk McCain:
“Please ignore the lies about health systems in our country [U.K.] and others that are being pushed by U.S. healthcare companies. Our national system of public healthcare works very well and enjoys extremely high levels of public support. Yes, there is room for improvement. Sure, for some non-urgent procedures there are waiting lists. But our system ensures that treatment is available for every man, woman and child in this entire country, and that nobody ever gets turned away when they need medical help.”
“So, our teeth may not be as white or regular as yours, but we [in the U.K.] live without fear of astronomical health care costs, secure in the knowledge that we will be taken care of if the need arises. I sincerely hope that the same will one day be a reality for all Americans , not only those who can afford it.”
DO SOMETHING TO HELP
“...all of us who cheerfully said, 'Oh YES! We know we are going to have to help Obama! We know the election is just the beginning…' Well, recess is nearly over, literally. If we do not make a strong presence when class reassembles on health care reform, we are going to be witness to a great deal more suffering and disappointment than is necessary.”
“What can I do? There are many small things and one very important big thing that I can do. The most important thing I can do is to study the issues and understand what is truth and fiction.”
“Tell our elected officials that we did not vote for change last November to run scared because the hate- and fear-mongers yell ’socialism’ and ‘government control.’ If people had listened to these threats a few decades ago, we would not have Social Security and Medicare today.”
“Let's do something good for our country. Let's debate this, let's figure out together how to come up with a health care system that is better for everyone.”
“This is no time to bow out of the decision-making process; we all must participate to make sure that we get the health care reform that we need. Our lives depend on it.”
Peter Lott Heppner:
“The next cry of socialistic medicine, should be met with the question, 'On a scale of one to ten how would you describe your pain?'"
Diane Widler Wenzel:
“Because vases are often given as a symbol to remind the gift receiver of their similar values, I think it is important to define in ceramic vases what it is we most value in times of noisy confusing arguments. With the kindling of good feelings and our similar bonds we can then work together effectively to make a good bill to bring about a caring health system.”
“It’s time we find another solution. We need to follow the better medical models now available like that of France or Canada. Arguing at forums, urged on by PAC’s and insurance companies, is not the solution. Taking action is. I wish everyone could live in physical comfort getting the medical care they need at a price they can afford. This needn’t be a dream for American families today.”
“It’s time for the Democrats and the Obama administration to cowboy up. Forget the Republicans. They are too much in the pocket of the insurance industry and the drug companies to ever vote for health care reform. We the People urge you to use your muscle, guys.”
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Brenda Adams: The 211 Bus Follies