You Are All Bad And You Should Feel Bad If You Think This

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

When I discuss health care, people tell me, “I have good insurance.” I always reply, “Have you gotten seriously sick?  Have you ever had to make a serious claim on your insurance for major surgery or a large-scale illness?”
To which they have until this point inevitably replied, “Why, no, I haven’t.”
You don’t know, then.  So shut the hell up.
The problem I have with a lot of the health care debate is that it frames “health insurance” as some sort of magic shield where everything is covered and you can’t go broke.  But here.  Take a look at Jay Lake, successful fantasy writer and owner of a fully-fledged and well-paying Day Jobbe with what he considers fairly good insurance.  He got cancer, pretty bad cancer that’s required multiple surgeries and chemotherapy.  He’s paying roughly $200 a week in co-payments for his medicine,  and estimates that the cancer is costing him at least $10,000 a year in medical bills alone.  No word on what it costs him in terms of time off from work, his inability to attend writing workshops as an instructor, his lost writing time thanks to cancer-brain, et al. Lord knows what will happen if his Day Jobbe is callous and finds that Jay’s fogged brain is a liability to his productivity, and sorry, time to let you go.
If not Jay, then think of my sister-in-law Kristi, who had health insurance through her husband.  She got a deadly, rare illness – and the insurance company refused to pay for the only known surgery that was known to treat it.  In the meantime, they pulled every bit of bureaucratic bullshit they could get, delaying her payments to the point where she had to keep switching to other pharmacies because it was three months before they paid up, switching representatives whenever she convinced one this surgery was in her favor, denying routine claims on the first couple of tries.  If it wasn’t for our constant advocacy (terminally sick people don’t have the strength to fight bureaucracy) and her family kicking in the money to hire a lawyer, she’d probably be dead.
Insurance doesn’t necessarily save you.  As my wife the bankruptcy lawyer can tell you, over 60% of all bankruptcies in the US are due to medical costs…. And 78% of those people had insurance when they started out.
Here’s the deal: your insurance is always good on paper.  But that’s like assuming all your friends are close, reliable buddies because they hang out at the bar and drink beer with you.  Of course your insurance is awesome now, when all you’re doing is the occasional doctor’s visit for that cold and the Advair you need to keep breathing!  You’re not asking anything of them.
The real test of a friend comes when your partner’s left you, and you have to move out of hir apartment, and there’s a shit-ton of heavy dressers to move while you’re on the verge of crying and your girlfriend’s there and there’s a good chance a new fight’s gonna start up while you decide who gets the Blu-Ray, and your friends know all this is likely to happen and yet they show up anyway.
Every insurance is wonderful until you say, “BTDubs, I’ve got $150,000 in surgery I need.”  Then a lot of them make their excuses at the bar and find somewhere else to be on moving day.
So you know what? Stop talking about “insurance” as though the act of having insurance keeps you safe from any illness.  There are levels of insurance, and levels of disease even within good insurance, that can still leave you utterly untouched or bankrupt should you get the wrong kind of sick.
That’s what the conservatives don’t want to acknowledge: you can do everything right according to the system and still get screwed.  That’s the core problem.  And I don’t mind them exploring other solutions to it aside from Universal Health Care, but I do mind them acting as though “insurance” is a generically wonderful thing that saves everyone equally.
It doesn’t.  Try to face reality when making decisions, folks.

All Comments Will Be Moderated. Comments From Fake Or Throwaway Accounts Will Never Be approved.