Wednesday, 26 August 2009

U.S. Healthcare Reform

Normally I stick to writing about things that are happening in my day to day life and leave politics and religion and everything else out of my blog. However... I'm SO irritated with my home country and their refusal to change (when only months ago they were shouting for it!) that I'm going to rant a little bit.

I've seen numerous posts on facebook and news channel websites, watched videos from CNN and political sites, and listened to people explain why government run healthcare will be the downfall of the U.S. and how that makes Obama a Socialist. Blah Blah Blah. Is anyone actually listening to what they are saying? Are Americans doing research on the statistics for the uninsured/high risk individuals that are still (gasp!) American... and therefore just as deserving of proper medical attention as anyone else that can actually afford the high cost of health care in the U.S.?! If you, for even one second, are serious in your allegations that the change will have a negative affect on the U.S., I DARE you to go and sit in an Emergency Room for an hour. Just go sit in there and look around. You'll see families that are worried sick, not just because someone they love is injured, but because they know the bills for the visit will eat a large amount of their annual salary and they probably aren't able to afford the necessary visit. Take for example when Nick was sick a few years ago. It was a Friday night and our doctor's office wasn't going to be open until Tuesday because the Monday was a public holiday. We did not have insurance (we were both full time students and all our income from our jobs went toward our bills and my tuition). His fever was so high that he was beginning to get emotional (which is VERY rare for him) and was talking crazy talk. He was losing it. So we tried treating him at home with over the counter meds and cold baths to get his fever down. That didn't work. So we hesitantly went to the ER. Two hours later, he was feeling better and his fever was under control... and our pockets were SEVERELY drained. I'm talking $4,237 drained. Did we have that kind of money? Hell no.

I did a lot of volunteer work for the then Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now Susan G. Komen for the Cure) when I lived in the States. I have seen with my own eyes women who cannot afford health insurance and couldn't afford to go to the ER or a clinic but had Breast Cancer in the late stages. I have seen a woman with tumors so bad that her breasts looked like they were actually falling off. It's the most graphic thing I've ever seen and it kills me to know that no one was willing to do anything about it. It kills me to know that if the U.S. had a system like the one here, in Scotland, she would have been seen and treated without hesitation. Or what about the kids that don't get taken to the doctor as often as they should because their parents don't make enough to pay for insurance for them? I don't want to hear about the CHIPs program or the other little programs that the US is currently offering to help sort this problem out. They are lame attempts to cover up a system that is failing miserably.

I then think about my Mom and Dad... both had cancer. My mom has insurance... always has. They pay a ton for their insurance each year and their premiums on top of that. When she was undergoing treatment for her breast cancer, she reached a "cap" for what her insurance would cover. What?! Isn't that what you pay for insurance for? So that when you need it... it will pay for your treatments? The rest of her treatments and medications had to be paid out of pocket. She's not awake yet or I would call her and confirm the ungodly amount that she had to pay (and I believe is still paying 5 years later...) out of pocket. Dad was the same... but he didn't live through his treatments and so the life insurance that he had went to paying off the hospital bills- not to his kids or widow. It's a good thing he had life insurance though, or I'd be the one paying still. Talk about kicking someone when they are down. If you are sick, they charge you exorbitant amounts of money for treatments that you cannot live without.

Ok... so let's talk about this "Crazy" or "Socialist" healthcare system that seems so wrong to so many people who simply don't get it. I've experienced both systems... and I have to say that I definitely prefer the National Healthcare System that they have here in Scotland to the private system that we have at home. I can tell you honestly, that 7.5% of my income here went to National Insurance. Nick, who is in a much higher tax bracket than I am pays 9.5%. That's it. I don't have to pay anything for private insurance (but can if I would like to...), I don't have to pay any premiums, when I go to the doctor or my midwife I walk straight out without paying a penny afterwards. My prescriptions are ALL only 5 pounds. Actually... now that I am pregnant they are free (and will be for all of this year and next year). Regardless of what it is that I take, it's 5 pounds. I told this to my Grandmother and she nearly had a heart attack. She pays HUNDREDS on top of what medicare pays for her monthly prescriptions. There have been months for her where it determines what they have for dinner... because it's either pay for their pills that day or have a steak. My grandparents have worked HARD all their lives, and this is how we repay them? My grandfather served his country in war bravely... and this is how we repay him? By letting him struggle to pay for his medications? It's ridiculous and it pains me to no end to see that. I am fine with paying a percentage of my income so that everyone here can see the doctor and not worry about whether or not they can afford it. I think it's my duty to take care of those around me... that may be because I'm Christian, but I would like to think that it's because I'm a decent human being that deserves the same treatment as everyone else (whether they are rich/poor/old/young or whatever!). Who are we to deny people the right to medical attention because they cannot afford it?! Come on people... it's time to get over ourselves and realize that it won't be long until no one can afford or even qualify for insurance anymore. Once you can't afford to go to the doctor, you'll see how important health care is and what you are willing to pay to make sure everyone gets an equal shot at it.

I read a lot of blogs and news sites (I don't like to watch the news... I'd rather read it) and I think what got me going today was one of the blogs I read (Jon's Blog) was responded to by the White House. I think it's great that the government is finally listening to their constituents and are actually providing information for the public- even if it's not in their favor. There are two links that are provided by the white house in that post that are pretty interesting. Please also read this: Ebert Ropert Blog ESPECIALLY if you are a conservative (I'm kind of in the middle to be honest...).

I am thankful that we live here right now. One, because it's a beautiful country and I'm happy here. Two, because I probably couldn't afford to stay at home during my pregnancy at home. Three, because we probably STILL wouldn't have insurance because of how much it costs at home and would be severely out of pocket for this baby. The medical system here has relieved a TON of stress from me personally and I am VERY happy with the treatment I've received here. I've always received doctors appointments the same day I call (with the exception of Nick's knee... which is a specialist). I can ask anything I need to and they don't reprimand me and say that I need a different appointment for that since it has nothing to do with what I came in for. The hospital/midwife center where I will give birth has many options (like a birth pool) that I wouldn't get at home unless I went to a specific hospital. I can't say enough good things about the system here...

I know it isn't perfect. The dental system here needs a TON of work, as does the specialist care. However, for the general needs of the public it's nice to know that it's available to everyone.

I'm off my soapbox because I have stuff to do... but I'm still riled up about it and I'm sure I'll talk about it again.

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