Friday, March 19, 2010

Millions Sick or Dying In the US Without Treatment

Paul Krugman’s latest op-ed, “Why We Reform” sums up my feelings on the stupidity of humanity.

This article on healthcare reform in the United States starts out by saying that the fate of reform currently lies in hands of a few conservative Democrats. This handful of folks will decide if we get a flawed yet significant improvement or whether we have to wait perhaps a decade for another chance.

That little bit alone is AMAZING. What the F$*#@ kind of screwed-up sclerotic bureaucracy is so constipated that it can’t make the obvious decision to provide medical treatment for tens of millions of people who currently have no access?

And it’s almost equally ridiculous that if the current plan doesn’t pass, we’ll have to wait ten more years for another chance. What does this say about the moral fabric of the so-called wealthiest nation on Earth?

We pour more money into medicine, per capita, than any other nation, and our system is ridiculous and pathetic. Not only are many people uninsured, those that are insured are paying massive “deductibles” and being horribly gouged.

Here is one commentator’s remarks on the Krugman piece:

“I have an Assurant Health Insurance Policy with a $5,100 deductible. I have had the policy for almost three years, and I have never come close to the deductible limit. Effectively, I am paying for all of my health care, plus the premiums. Despite never having a claim which required payment... my premiums were increased by 50% in one year. If I do become seriously ill, I do not want to have my insurance ‘rescinded’”.

The reason so much money does so little is simple: greed. Greedy insurance companies that terminate people’s policies when they get sick. Greedy insurance companies that can deny policies based on absurd pre-existing conditions like acne and being beat up by your spouse.

Krugman’s case of the insurer Fortis (now part of Assurant Health) dropping people with HIV “for any excuse, no matter how flimsy” does indeed, as he says, illustrate “the vileness of our current system.”

And get this: Although Assurant’s systemic cancellation of HIV policyholders was found to be illegal, the fine imposed was not enough to negate the profit of the wrongdoing:

“The truth, widely documented, is that behavior like Assurant Health’s is widespread for a simple reason: it pays. A House committee estimated that Assurant made $150 million in profits between 2003 and 2007 by canceling coverage of people who thought they had insurance, a sum that dwarfs the fine the court imposed in this particular case.”

(Krugman, “Why We Reform”)

The US Empire got rich after WWII and yet within several decades that wealth was securely in the hands of 10% of the population, most of it in the bloated piggybanks of the top 1%. So much money and so little kindness. So much acrimony and selfishness.

A mean horde--a large vocal faction of the citizenry--is thoroughly and disgustingly against what they call “handouts” for those without insurance, which is to say, those who cannot get serious medical treatment without going into massive debt that will dog them all their lives.

Cases of people losing their entire life savings when they get cancer or have a heart attack are not uncommon. Poof. All gone to pay for bloated bills ramped up by a dysfunctional system where hospitals bleed insurance companies and insurance companies bleed the public.

I want to end this rant with one of Krugman’s best lines ever:

“This is a story that could happen only in America. In every other advanced nation, insurance coverage is available to everyone regardless of medical history. Our system is unique in its cruelty.”

I SCREAM out to the gods: Why do you let so many people suffer under the ignorance of so many other people?

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