Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

First thing we do...

Of late, I've had reason to wonder why. The big Why? Recent readers already know some impetus; longtime readers know this month it will be 14 years since my dad died. Winter has never been my favorite season. Why do these things happen?

Some back story. My dad was only 57. He was self-employed for his last 14 years, most of it without health insurance for himself or his family. Seriously. He had a wife and three kids and no health insurance for anyone. When I say, "If we'd had allergies, we'd be dead," I only mean partly because my mother wouldn't have had the patience for it.
I had insurance when I was in college only because 1) it was mandated by the college and 2) they sold it for about $150 a year. Six months after graduation, though, I was flying solo. I went to the dentist, the optometrist (I had contacts and was vain), and the gynecologist (the Pill). I figured if both ends were okay, in between had to be in good shape too. Good thing I was pretty healthy; I don't know what would have happened if I'd gotten pregnant. The boyfriend at the time said he'd "fight for what was his"--a bit vague. What exactly did he consider "his"?
Anyway, the day I got hired at the parochial school brought me insurance. I remember signing the form--long-term disability was crossed out. I didn't care. I walked out of the interview thinking, "I have health insurance! I can get sick now!"
Back to my dad. He had health issues, I'm sure. His dad died when in his early 40's, his mother had diabetes pretty badly. He had problems my mother told me about after his passing (don't make me paint a picture, folks). He had bleeding from his ears. You know, where the skin is really thin?
But without health insurance, he couldn't afford a trip to the doctor. It's not a given he would have gone anyway, being a man from the Silent Generation and all, but he would have had one less excuse.

Then there's Christina. She was gainfully employed for most or all of her adult life, somehow or another. It was tough for her without a college degree but she never shirked or was too proud for just about any job. When she started having "digestive trouble," she tried adjusting her diet, her activity, tried blaming hormones, et cetera. Attributed it to irritable bowel, eating something bad, casting about for anything.
More than a year later, her workplace finally got health insurance and she traipsed off to the specialist she thought she needed. They thought a colonoscopy was the route to go, which is when they found the cancer that later killed her. At 34.
Okay, yeah, she could have gone on her husband's health insurance through his work, but that meant they wouldn't have enough to pay for the gas for him to get to work. Catch-22, anyone?

So we follow the money. Is it because doctors charge enormous fees to afford their private jets, ocean-going yachts, and Swiss bank accounts? I don't think so. Speaking as a lawyer's wife, it's not like they hand you a check along with your diploma. Have you seen how much med school costs? I've heard of doctors scrubbing their own office toilets to stay solvent. What is costing so much?

My guess is malpractice insurance. And who makes money from that?



At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Annalucia said...

``My guess is malpractice insurance.''

Got it in one, Heather.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Zach said...

And who makes money from that?

Presidential candidates.

At 9:55 PM, Blogger RAnn said...

Where does all the money go? Large amounts of it go to treat the dying, or those who would have died quickly and cheaply 50 years ago. My mom died a year ago of an illness she had been diagnosed with three years earlier, an illness she had been told three years earlier gave her a life expectancy of two years. During those three years she was on medication costing over $10,000 per month--medication that made her feel better but which no one expected would make her anything more active than a semi-invalid. Without it she probably would have died within a year. I have an uncle in his seventies with stage IV pancreatic cancer, which has almost no five year survival rate. He is receiving chemo--I don't know the cost but I'm sure it isn't cheap. You linked to the story of a premie, a premie who not not too many years ago would have died quickly and cheaply. I'll bet she has half a million in medical bills. I guess what I'm saying is that health insurance isn't obnoxioulsy expensive because it has to pay for the routine illnesses we all get, but rather because it has to pay to the extended expensive care some people get--care that wasn't available not that long ago.


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