Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Being sick of the system

I have written and rewritten this post several times. This is the topic that has been on my mind for a very long time, and sometimes overabundance of feelings on the subject makes it harder to express them. Do I go with pure numbers and logic? Do I bring in personal experiences? Do I just say how I feel on the subject? Or all of the above? And at some point, one needs to rid herself of the post, no matter how badly it's written. So here it comes, just in time for elections, very imperfect, but all mine.

I don't like talking about politics,especially during the presidential elections year. Political talk rarely makes you friends, but very often causes rifts and sour feelings. And most of the time this talk is pointless. I haven't been able to persuade anyone with the opposite view in their wrongness. Most people are very stubborn in their views and wouldn't change them even when presented with all the facts and logic in the world. The most you can do is to plant the seed of doubt in their minds, and even for that you have to be a very persuasive speaker and the person you are talking to has to possess enough integrity to admit that he might have been wrong. And even when everyone agrees on all the issues, political talk rarely makes for a pleasant conversation. So these are the main reasons for my refusal to talk about politics - futility of discussions and desire not to alienate people. Often my attitude is mistaken for not caring about issues. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, I rarely get overly excited and lather up at the mouth because of politics (though I did that a lot in my very early youth), but I deeply care about many problems our country is facing. And political process, in which I am very disappointed, is just one of those problems.

That being said, one of the main problems that boggles my mind is this country's health care system. That actually is one of the few topics that invariably raises my blood pressure when mentioned or discussed. The more I discover, the more appalled I get. It is unthinkable to me that the country this great and wealthy cannot guarantee its citizens some basic medical coverage. The laws instituted today are moving into somewhat of a more humane direction, but are still very far from anything I would find acceptable. And the fact that most medical coverage is provided by employers is making some of the issues even worse (there are advantages to this also). With the rising costs, many employers opt out of offering health insurance to their employees or offer cheaper plans with higher deductibles and co-pays. What I find even scarier is that in this system one risks losing health coverage when one needs it the most: when losing a job, getting seriously sick or during life changing events, such as birth of a child, divorce or death of the spouse through whom one gets insurance. When an employee is no longer able to work, his employer feels no obligation to provide coverage. But what about Cobra? Yes, this wonderful COBRA, which of course was the step in the right direction since it is still better than losing insurance altogether, costs oodles of money during the time when one is either receiving no paycheck or only a fraction of it (because again, employers are not obligated to provide paid sick days, maternity leaves or even keep sick employees in their employment if they can't perform their duties due to sickness. And those disability and unemployment checks are often not enough to cover the rent, let alone anything else.) The number of people forced to declare bankruptcy due to their inability to pay medical bills is simply astonishing. And those are not only irresponsible punks thinking that they are immune to accidents and diseases. Very often these are people with serious illnesses well in their forties and fifties who for various reasons lost their insurance or didn't have proper coverage for a life-saving procedure.

Ok, I guess enough griping. I don't want to make this too long. If you would ask me for suggestions, I don't have any. I certainly wouldn't recommend destroying the system that works only half the time in favor of no system at all. And I also don't think that putting all the blame or the burden on the employers is fair. That could result in more trouble than it's worth. One thing I am sure about is that there must be a solution. Not everyone will be happy because it is impossible to make everyone happy, but all those experts can and should find a solution acceptable to the majority of Americans. After all, many civilized countries somehow achieved it, why can't we?

And before you read this as an endorsement of Obama's candidacy, let me put you at ease or disappoint you. It isn't. I have read his plan for health care reform, and I had read McCain's suggestions on the matter. Neither candidate, in my opinion, provides a solution. McCain's plan provides a patch for a deteriorating system, but I am not persuaded that it would help for much and for long. Obama's plan, on the other hand, is close to non-existent. It sounds more like a slogan to me, very, very vague, without any specifics. And again, the burden is shifted to the employers. Oh, but he believes in the universal health coverage. Well, so do I, but it doesn't seem to help anyone. Give me the details!

That's it. Please vote! It's important that you do regardless of how you vote!


  1. Why is it important that you vote?

    And: what I wonder is what happens if you have to give birth or something, and have no medical insurance?

  2. Very well said and "Amen" on both fronts (political and medical), SW!

  3. To the commenter with a long Hebrew name: why it is important to vote requires and deserves a post of its own. Since the elections are over, I am no particular mood to address this in great detail, especially that there are many articles dedicated to this topic. The main reason why I vote is that voting makes politicians take your social group into account because ultimately all they care about is votes. If you don't vote, you don't count. If you don't count, then issues that are important to you don't count either. If anyone else wants to address this issue, please feel free.

    On what happens if you need emergency medical care and have no insurance? It is illegal for any hospital to turn a patient in need of emergency care away. I guess that includes giving birth. However, I have heard of people being turned away, mostly illiterate immigrants, of course. But hospitals are not obligated to provide this care for free or at a discount. And emergency care is the most expensive care.

  4. You misunderstood Obama's health plan. He had many more specifics than McCain. Independent organizations rated both plans and determined that Obama's health plan would cover many more people than McCain's would. You can look up more info on politifact.com


Don't be shy! Leave your sub-comment!