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Expertise

My first job was filing charts in my dad's office when I was twelve or thirteen. I'd go to work with him a few days a week and help his secretary with lite office work. When I was sixteen, I worked a summer for an oncologist doing more or less the same thing. I also worked for a rhumatologist answering phones and helping out the rest of the very busy office staff. When I was seventeen and nineteen, I worked as a nurse's aide in the hospital where my dad worked, day surgery one summer, the ICU the following. I took a little time off from health care after that, canvassing the summer when I was 21 and then working for the Houston Area Women's Center when I was 22 and 23. From that point on, though, I've worked every single paycheck in healthcare. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on healthcare, I went to law school specifically to become a healthcare lawyer, I did all of the coursework for a masters in Public Health with a concentration on Management and Policy Sciences. I've been a practicing health care attorney for eleven years.

I like to think I know a little bit about healthcare.

But I haven't talked much about it in the last few months. I haven't written a word here about the debate going on nationally. I have been nearly silent on Lawtalkers about it.

And it's because I'm so pissed off I don't even know where to begin.

A friend of mine went to an opthalmologist's appointment on Monday. As he was leaving the office, an old man came in and presented some paper work to the front desk person. He explained that Medicare had rejected the claim and was there anything they could do to help him resubmit? The woman behind the desk saw what was wrong and asked him to have a seat in the waiting room. The man then went on to rant at a black lady minding her own business in the waiting room about how Obama wanted to take health care away from all of us and have the government take it over. The man on Medicare.

The debate on my lawyer board has become so insane that I can't go anywhere near there anymore. There are people there that honestly don't see a problem with the system we have now. Self-interest has so blinded those people (admittedly only a few) that debate is pointless, and I bowed out two weeks ago. Occasionally, I'll scroll by, see some false assertion that could easily be corrected with a sentence or two, and have to resist the temptation to be brought back into the fray in a battle I know I can't win because no one actually wants to fix the problems that they think exist.

And now there's the assault in the town-hall meetings. Falsehoods, stupid assertions, volume without substaqnce. My favorite, of course, was at Gene Green's last night:
During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

At another point, a small business owner who supported health reform asks the audience how many people in this room “do not have health insurance of some kind.” Only one hand seemed to be raised. “I think the people who are objecting,” she noted, “are the people who have insurance.”
But they killed Lloyd Doggett's town-hall meeting yesterday, too. And while I think they have a total right to be a pain in the ass at public events, they're wrong. Factually, wrong. And that bothers me.

But what I've gathered over the last few weeks is that the people on my lawyer board, the person in the doctor's office and the people at these town hall meetings don't care about the health care system. They have access to health care. They don't see a problem with the system as it currently stands, with the inefficient and costly emergency rooms standing in as the only way for a good hunk of our population to get healthcare. If something goes horribly wrong for some poor sap without insurance, the thousands of dollars of medical bills were seemingly that person's fault. They should have bought insurance instead of a big screen TV or the new car or the house that they're upside down on their mortgage.

And so, I sit here, clearly knowing nothing about healthcare despite a lifetime of working in the industry, and I feel dispair. Because I know that these people have big insurance money on their side, and they'll ultimately win. And people in the US will continue to suffer at great cost.

Comments

jasheffe
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
OK...since you brought it up...
How will government sponsored health care affect people like me who already have really good insurance through an employer? Will I lose benefits? Will I lose my ability to go wherever I want (I have very good PPO insurance) for a specialist without a referral from another doctor? Will it cost me more?

I have been following the debate and issue casually but I tend to tune it out. To many talking heads and no one really listening so that people can make real sense of what is on the table.
texaslawchick
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
As it currently stands, it really wouldn't impact you at all. To qualify for the public plan you have to be in the exchange, to be in the exchange, you'd have to be unemployed or otherwise uninsured. Your employer would continue to provide you with insurance. There's a slight possibility that you'd be either taxed on the insurance benefit you already receive tax free (you freeloader, you), but that's not really on the table. The PPO wouldn't change at all, though it's possible that they'd offer MORE services to adequately compete with the insurance market.
jasheffe
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
I don't see how people who are insured have a problem with this then. OK, maybe the being taxed part, I'm taxed enough already but as long as it's not outrageous, it's a win/win for the public.

I can see why Big Business has an issue, but I really do believe that we need some kind of National Health Care program in place for people who need it. I'd actually be more for full government regulation of health care to stop the gouging on procedures that seems to happen. The difference in cost between having the same MRI at USC, UCLA and the radiology place down the street from my house is obscene.
texaslawchick
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well, people who are insured are happy with what they have and worry that they're either going to a) pay more to maintain the status quo, or b) going to lose something.

And, under the current system, you are royally fucked if you don't have a job that provides insurance for you. Given your medical history, there is no insurance company in the world that would write you an individual policy that would provide the sort of coverage that you need that wouldn't cost an absolute fortune. Your monthly premiums would probably be well over a couple thousand dollars a month in the individual market.
jasheffe
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know this well. I took a paycut to keep my job last year and avoid being laid off so I could keep my insurance. I have AFLAC on top of everything which I took over premiums from a prior employer who had offered it. When they found out my prior medical history, they wigged.

The current system is broken in more ways than anyone can imagine. We need something in place. I agree with your frustration and anger over the intimidation through misinformation and fear that's being used.
samtosha
Aug. 6th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
I pay out of pocket for my health insurance and with my medical history, it is an insane amount of money. But I have to have it, no way around it.