pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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Recall Them All

So, if you aren’t clear are on all of this, know this: it is absolutely impossible at this point for the GOP to shut down the ACA. The Senate has refused. They will continue to refuse. This has been voted on over 40 times. While many other things have waited to be worked on the Congress, the House of Representatives has again and again voted on the ACA (aka “Obamacare”).

It will not happen. There’s no reality in which it happens. Senate GOP has even said this.

Yet they have done this. They have put over 800,000 people in peril by removing paychecks when we know that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck; a move that will further gut our economy. They have closed down National Parks on the 123rd Anniversary of Yosemite National Park. They have closed down the CDC’s ability to track down and prevent diseases on the eve of Flu season during a time when we know that a world wide pandemic is simply a matter of when and not if. They have shut down WIC when there are over 9 million women, infants and children (what the program is named after: pregnant and nursing women, infants, and children) in desperate need of what small help it provides, this being a program we started not just because it is gross negligence to have children starving in a country of such plenty, but because children who starve actually suffer malnutrition and become a *deficit* to our economy from the related disabilities that then arise. They have closed down E-verify, a program that is mandatory in quite a few states to use to even *hire* a person, during a time when there are desperate millions trying very hard to be employed.

They have done all this not because it is possible for them to destroy the ACA. They can’t. They know that.

They’ve done this because they can. Simply because they can. Because they want the Senate and the President to understand that they are in control. That this is their ball, and because they are not winning in a game that they devised the rules for (remember, Congress actually *passed* the ACA) that they will simply stop playing, and damn the consequences.

This is a thing they do “for the principle of the thing.”

RECALL THEM ALL. They do not represent the American people any longer.


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It Started Simply

It started with a runny nose. The beginning of the school year usually means the start of the immune year, too. Especially in these first few years of school. So I wasn’t surprised to see a runny nose on either of my 4 year olds. It started, this time, pretty simply with a runny nose.

 

After a few days of not eating very much, the cough came out. Every night when we put P to bed, he’d cough fitfully for a bit, then sleep for most of the night.

After a day or two, his sister followed suit. Pie had her own runny nose, and her own cough when laying down for sleep. It wasn’t as bad as P’s, though, and she was still eating and seemed more energetic. I felt a bit rundown myself. We moved the kids to sleep in our bed. The air circulation in our room is the best upstairs, and they sleep most deeply when sleeping next to us.

In this same time frame my husband’s division at work got dissolved, and he was let go. We had a week or so of insurance left, and then we’d be without insurance until he found another job.

I took P to his pediatrician. We talked through what was going on with him while she did the examination. We talked through the insurance problem, and she did what she could. She noted he had fluid in his eat, but the hope was the medicines prescribed should decrease the sinus pressure and let his ears drain before that became a problem.

We got the medications and followed them faithfully. He seemed to be improving for a day or two and then it was like a backward slide.

The week ran out and we had no insurance. Meanwhile Pie got worse. I took them back to the doctor. No, no insurance. Yes, we’ll pay. A 10% discount applied for self-pay brought that total to $174 for both children to see the doctor. The doctor thought Pie sounded great, and advised us to change to new hypo-allergenic pillows, remove stuffed animals, that the coughs coinciding so directly with sleep time meant that they were being irritated by their bedding. P sounded worse, and the fluid behind his ear had developed into an infection. His medications were increased, and an antibiotic was prescribed. The doctor and I talked about the no insurance, and we worked out the best medications possible that were the least expensive.

The antibiotic was free at my grocery store. The other medicine was not, it was over two hundred dollars. I silently was grateful for the fact that we have savings, and could afford this luxury when I know so many people who can’t.

It is a luxury in the United States: Wellness. Being able to afford medication.

What happens to people who can’t afford it? If they’re lucky, they have credit cards. So they pay for their sicknesses on a card that adds to the stack of bills that they can not pay. If they aren’t lucky, they simply get more sick.

Some turn to emergency rooms in hospitals, where supposedly you can not be turned away for the lack of insurance. The reality is that people are being turned away, though. Lacking any medical care whatsoever, they go to the emergency room for reasons that are not immediate medical emergencies. The laws that state that patients can’t be turned away only protect those whom the hospitals deem to be having an emergency. Lack of money or insurance when you have medical needs does not constitute an emergency.

Even if the hospital does take you in, even if you do have insurance, the mounting debt for simply being treated can and does wipe out families entire financial assets. Bankruptcy from medical debt is not unusual.

Simply having a baby in the United States costs about USD$30,000. Add in a complication like cesarean section and that costs goes to USD$50,000.

That costs gets parsed into pieces if you are lucky enough to have health insurance. The insurance companies bargain in large purchasing blocks. The insurance companies will pay this much, and the patient will pay that much, so the hospital sets their rates thusly. They take into account late payments from insurance companies (entire counties have been known to deny service to different providers because of non payment for services by the insurance companies), what percentages people are generally responsible for “out of pocket” by the insurance companies, and how many people simply will never be able to pay, and the few that do pay out of pocket. The hospitals and health care centers pay litigation insurance for those who will sue for damages for negligence or other malpractice. The pharmaceutical companies release more medicines as brand names that carry hefty price tags. They reformulate old medications with slight variations that can be as simple as a different way of administering the drug. That way they can avoid having their patent go into generic formulations that are sold at pennies on the dollar of the brand name.

Legally forbidden from directly paying doctors for prescribing the pharmaceutical’s goods, pharmaceutical representatives invite doctor, hospital and clinical representatives to expensive meals or events. Boxes of samples of the drugs are given to doctors, health centers and hospitals and then have a free sample to give to their patients whom they are often desperate to help, but that know can’t afford the medicines. So the doctors get used to prescribing that particular drug. Mostly nobody is bribed directly, and the free samples from the pharmaceuticals can be a boon to clinics serving poorer clientele. It’s almost a windfall for them. They know their patients will actually be treated and get better. Or at least survive.

That last part is the sticky bit for me. I can’t even count the number of people I know that are on medications basically permanently. Blood pressure medications, immune boosters, immune suppressors, anti inflammatories, pain reducers, anti depression drugs, anti anxiety drugs, anti convulsant drugs, blood thinners, blood coagulators. The list goes on and on. These medicines can cost anywhere from $30 a month to $800 (and more) a month, and that’s after insurance pays their part. If the person has no insurance, then the cost of the medicines that they need to live are so prohibitive that most people just… don’t take medicine. They use alternative medicines like herbs, and homeopathic “medicine.” They change their diets to whatever the current food fads say are the most healthy, and least likely to make you sick. They pray.

They also try to avoid any sort of pre existing condition diagnosis on their forms. A diagnosis of epilepsy, or asthma (or at least used to be able to, the Affordable Care Act actually took care of this, and is one of the reasons it must not be repealed) means being denied health insurance coverage.  Even a simple diagnosis of acne has been used to retroactively deny health insurance claims, and then to deny health insurance, period.

People often stay in low paying jobs that have no potential for growth simply because the employer offers health insurance.

The other thing that’s happening?

People are immigrating to other countries that actually have universal health care. We’re losing some of our best and brightest to dead end jobs, bankruptcy that hurts the entire economy, and exodus from the country.

 

I don’t raise this issue because of the recent experience of paying over $400 for a simple cold that had complications for my two kids. I raise it because I’ve had friends move overseas, I’ve got friends that are drowning in medical debt, and I even have friends who are simply dying, just because medical treatment has come too late for them. I raise the issue with my own experience of paying $400 for a simple cold that had complications because, although any of that can happen to you, if you have children it’s likely that the simple cold with simple complications will happen. It’s a thing you can connect to, and people are more likely to care about something close to them than far away.

Meanwhile House GOP voted to repeal the ACA, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” for the 40th time.