Don’t blame Obamacare if the current state of health care makes you sick

IMG_3668Walking into Cadence Hospital was something of a brain rush. For years I strolled those halls between the hospital walls and the cafeteria. There were surgeries and treatments. Chemotherapies and patient recoveries. It was all part of the picture of being a caregiver.

There were also many trips to the cashier and the hospital financial office to figure out bills. Some of them piled up. Others were written off thanks to the charitable arm of Cadence. Over the years we worked with HMOs, PPOs and more than a few I Don’t Knows. COBRA and finally Obamacare. Somehow most of those bills got paid one way or another.

It struck us for years how strange it was to hear people complaining about the politics of health care. Until you’ve sat there getting treatment while knowing the next bill alone might add up to $45,000, none of it really makes much sense politically. We heard stories of people bankrupted by their medical bills, and people who could not get coverage at all.

So we were thankful that somehow, someway we paid our share and insurance covered the rest.

IMG_3673It almost broke us a few times. When I lost my job the day after I informed a company that my wife had cancer it came to pass that we owed $2000 a month just in premiums to remain coverage. We turned in our certificate of “creditable coverage” whatever that means and then scraped and scrambled to earn the money to make those payments. At one point we had to take money from unemployment insurance to pay for health insurance.

It was not my wife’s “fault” that she got cancer. She ate well. Never smoked. Only drank moderately. Ovarian cancer takes women at random just like so many other types of cancer. We’re all walking around with potentially cancerous cells in our bodies. It’s our “job” you might say to try to keep cancer away. But in the end, it’s a product of chance.

As a lifelong runner and endurance athlete I like to think that I’ve put some insurance in the health bank. I realize that’s a ruse in many ways. You can protect yourself from cancer and get heart disease. You can avoid or get a flu shot and the flu comes anyway.

I used to work out so hard I’d make myself sick. There were long, deep bouts with the common cold because my resistance was so low. One time it put me in the hospital with a numb arm because I’d take Tylenol with codeine that affected the nerves in my shoulder.

IMG_3675But until I crashed my bike a couple years ago, and then picked up a sliver in my finger that led to an infection, my journeys to the hospital were pretty limited, other than to care for my late wife. Believe me, that was plenty of time spent in the hospital.

So I walked those halls thinking of the fact that last summer my companion Sue also earned a trip through the surgery room with her bike crash. Then I had surgery at a different hospital on my infected finger.

What I’m saying is that I never take my health for granted. Ever. As we age new challenges arise. My group of Friday Night Dinner friends from church have to be careful not to let conversation devolve into a medical bitch session. They all kid me the most, however. For a while last summer I was always scraping my bald scalp a day or two before dinner, or cutting my hand or picking up some other visible wound for which I get a good teasing.

IMG_8648Maybe I secretly desire the attention. But that’s not it, I know. Sometimes a good scrape or two with pain or blood or even death is a good reminder that we should all be grateful for our basic, good old health.

And if not, we should be grateful for the hospitals and physicians that know how to treat us. And hopefully fix us.

Despite all the vagaries of modern health insurance, it still strikes me that we should be grateful there are people trying to figure out how to make it all work better than it used to do. You can criticize the initial iterations of the Affordable Health Care Act all you want, but the facts show that more people have health care and that insurance premiums are only scheduled to rise by an estimated 5% next year. That’s far better than the 12% per year they increased on average during the recent Bush years.

Yes there are doctors pulling away from the program because the negotiations can be ugly. And yes physicians already have a ton to deal with given regulations over insurance, liability and other medical practice standards. But that’s not strictly the fault of Obamacare. HMOs started that swing years ago, so it’s all part of the arc.

IMG_3676What really needs to take place is grand negotiation in good faith over how and what the American health system should and can do. Is it strictly the responsibility of each individual to care for their own health and pay for it? Is personal health a free market issue or is it part of the social good to provide equal access to health care for every citizen? Are there  group dynamics necessary to evolve a better overall system of providing Americans consistent, quality health care. Or is it group dynamics that got us into trouble in the first place? Is corporatized health care causing a ‘health gap’ in the American population by playing favorites with people who work for larger companies?

Ask any small company about their biggest headaches and often they pertain to providing employee benefits such as health care. What if the American system removed this burden from the backs of small business and big business alike, and made it possible for people to shop at will in a truly free market of health care plans without enrollment periods or giant groups that shrink the cost of health care for a selected few while raising the rates for those most at risk?

What if indeed? The public option for health care is necessary to make this happen. Some people who claim to be ‘free market’ advocates don’t have the courage to admit that such an approach would mess with the gravy train they already have.

But what’s the goal, to provide adequate and equal health care opportunities or to sustain a status quo that was getting so out of balance costs were skyrocketing out of control?

Those of us who run and ride and swim might wryly grin that if left to our own devices, we might have an advantage over those who smoke, drink or abuse their bodies and minds with drugs. But we don’t have a pure democracy in America where majority always rules.  Our system is based on creating and delivering equal representation, not simply power plays.

In the long run, that’s a better system even if you’re the healthiest person in the world. Because it’s fair that despite circumstance or even bad choices, all people should have equal opportunity to quality health care.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
This entry was posted in Christopher Cudworth, running, We Run and Ride Every Day and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Don’t blame Obamacare if the current state of health care makes you sick

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Now hang on a second… I lost my first doctor when he retired rather than deal with Obamacare (a BRILLIANT D.O. who kept me running and healthy – who cured my excruciating pain after a car accident with a skeletal adjustment in FIVE MINUTES, rather than going with the narcotic pain meds and “rest” prescribed by the ER doctor). Then I lost me second doctor when he retired rather than deal with Obamacare. Then I had to change insurance companies and plans because of Obamacare. Then, after all of that, I got hammered with a 33% increase in cost for coverage that meets Obamacare’s requirements but is only good when you don’t need it (in other words, I’m paying more for worse care because of Obamacare)…

    And you’re saying We shouldn’t blame Obamacare?! Okay, we’ll place the blame where it belongs: Democrats. Liberals got the shellacking they so rightly deserved. Obamacare sucks.

    • Obamacare had it been enacted with the full provisions of the public option would be progress toward a better system. Instead we’re left (thanks to obstructionism) with a system in which the insurance companies still wield the power.

      • bgddyjim says:

        That’s laughable. They couldn’t even get the website up properly. For those with short memories, obstruction had nothing to do with the Bill or Law. Republicans didn’t have enough votes to stop Democrats on this one. They did their best and this debacle is the result. I do find it humorous and telling though, that when a vast over reach and expansion of government doesn’t work, Libs always say that the answer is more of what screwed the thing up in the first place is the answer.

        I had a comment on my blog the other day from a runner who said that they tore their meniscus and would have to wait three MONTHS to get their MRI done… That’s coming here too if you get your way. I could get one done tomorrow if I needed it. They were from the UK of course.

      • You don’t know (or refuse to accept) the history of how Obamacare, as cons like to call it, was watered down and turned into a tool for the health insurance companies to make more money. Those were the concessions placed upon the law by conservatives. Obama sacrificed the real tool for price and timing negotiation, which was the public option. He did it to get acceptance for more people into the system, including those with pre-existing conditions. Listen, America is ranked 37TH IN THE WORLD in terms of overall health care quality and outcomes. You don’t think we can do better than that? Or should we just not try, and continue sinking down the rankings by the World Health Organization?

      • bgddyjim says:

        No. You don’t know the history. Cons and Republicans were never allowed in the room to add or change anything. In the Senate, they skipped conference and it was wrankled through to vote where not one Republican in either House voted for the Bill. As I said before, that turd is around Democrat’s neck forever more. Now, you could try to be pulling the old “Cons” meaning “Conservative Democrat watered it down”… I suppose that would be better than admitting I’m right.

        Now, for the health care quality dealio… How long does it take to get an MRI done in England if you tear the old meniscus out running? The answer, Christopher, is three months. In the US it takes that long to get the MRI, have surgery and get halfway through physical therapy. We are low in the rankings, again and not surprisingly, through a political trick in how we count births, most imprtantly deaths immediately after birth, especially with premature births (other countries don’t count them, we do – you should know this). When it comes to any of the big “survival rates” we’re tops because we’re fast OR tricks are used to shift the way deaths are counted. Take Canada again, granny is too old for her hip replacement surgery so she’s “better treated with pain medication” as President Obama famously quipped… Anywho, granny is bed ridden and quicly wastes away and dies because we all know that, at that age, when you stop moving you’re dead. Her death gets filed under natural causes but you and I damn well know, a government scale and the health care system did granny in. Funny it isn’t counted that way.

        Look at it this way brother, if things were how you believe they are, I’d probably be a liberal too. Or wait, they call you progressive now that liberal has a rather nasty meaning these days. I digress…

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