This morning I saw some college undergrads analyze the healthcare bill more incisively than any legislator, policy wonk, or pundit. That is both a source of pride in the students I’m privileged to teach and terror in that none of our leaders in Washington seem to get what the hell is going on.
This is a black eye most of all on my President Barack Obama who, as a generally supportive but frustrated professor said, “should have brought doctors and economists together to craft a real solution” to be debated in Congress. I once thought his standards too high, but mine were too low. And it is clearly reflected in the bill.
I’m still optimistic because our system seems to be self correcting over the long haul. I pray we correct soon. Until then I’ll at least enjoy the GOP get pummelled by fact checks.
Today I had to take my son for his 15 month well visit. All day in the car as I listened to NPR, universal healthcare was the topic. Little did I know I would get a reminder of the problems with our system up close and personal today.
At the doctor’s, my son developed a strong fever. It turns out this was due to a new ear infection. Great. His shots would have to be delayed another few weeks and we’d have to give him a course of antibiotics. All of this would be handled well by my insurance. The full course, between generic substitutions in pharmacy and our family’s insurance coverage, would run me $12. No sweat. With a $15 copay my running total so far was $27.
But there was a problem.
My wife was concerned with the wheezing she still hears in my son’s breathing at night. My doctor was as well. She prescribed a 30 day supply of Pulmicort, an asthma treatment medicine. Since there are no generic substitutes, I have to pay full boat with my plan reimbursing me for 60% of the cost. And that cost? $365!
Now I don’t know about you, but how is a person with few means supposed to shelve out that kind of money on a monthly basis to treat their child? First you have to have the cash on hand or the credit to shell out what amounts to a car payment. Second, you’d have to be able to afford the 40%, or $146, you’d be responsible for if you have insurance. What happens if you are one of the 47,000,000 people who don’t? What’s wrong with this picture?
Truly, when I think of folks defending our healthcare system, esp. with regard to the pharma companies, I find it hard not to think of the phrase “full of shit.”
UPDATE: I can’t really take credit for the title, it was from a teacher and mentor who corrected me when I mentioned that the UK’s universal healthcare system was socialized medicine. She said, “No, it’s civilized medicine.”