Not a Socialist, an Egotist

3 Aug

I don’t usually go into politics in this space, but today I feel the need to go there.

Let’s talk about healthcare, shall we?

I may not live in the U.S. currently, but I spent almost half of my life there and I’m an American Political junkie. I’ve been following the election this year religiously. In honor of the implementation of new regulations under ObamaCare a couple of days back, and the continuing Republican outrage, I’d like to throw my two cents into the mix.

Let me start with a personal story: While living in LA, I sprained my ankle. It was a bad sprain, and I needed x-rays and crutches. I had health insurance at the time, paying close to 100$ a month while living as a poor graduate student.

Still – that sprained ankle cost me over 500 dollars.

I also had to go to a dermatologist that year. Another 600 bucks.

Did I mention that I had health insurance this entire time? Because I did. I also worked, and paid taxes and social security.

I was generally healthy. I admit, I didn’t disclose my PCOS for fear of getting rejected for a pre-existing condition. I was told that they do this with PCOS, even with women who have no intention of getting pregnant. I found out that health insurance with a pre-existing condition would run me about 300 dollars a month. Knowing that I wouldn’t even be going to a gyno (I’d be getting that care in Israel on my vacations), I chose not to disclose for one simple reason: I couldn’t afford it.

So – no gyno appointments, and only a sprained ankle and one dermatologist visit in two years. 90 dollars a month for two years, and another 1100 dollars in “co-pays” and “deductibles”.  That’s 3,260 dollars in two years. That’s 3 and a half months salary for what I was making at the time trying to support myself (3.5 very good months. Most months I made less and had to rely on help from my parents and financial aid).

Now let’s run through my health care in the last couple of years in Israel, shall we?

Hospital stays: 5

Surgeries: 4

Emergency room visits: 2

OB/GYN visits: too many to count

Blood tests: Too many to count

GP Visits: 6 or 7

Cost to me: 0.

That’s right folks. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Like in the States, I pay taxes and social security. That’s it. That’s all I pay. And the rates here are comparable to the rates in the States.

A lot of Israelis complain about our health care system. Not enough subsidized prescriptions, overcrowded hospitals during flu season, underpaid residents.

I understand those complaints, but you’ll never catch me saying them ever. That’s because I know what the alternative is. I know that in the States one broken bone could send me into debt. Here, it wouldn’t make a dent.

When we lost Nadav, I spent 4 nights in the hospital. I had two surgical procedures. 4 ultrasounds. I spent that first night in the emergency room.

Losing him was hard to deal with to say the least. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had we needed to contend with an insurance company on top of it.

I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had we gotten a bill demanding that we pay for all of that care.

Yet that’s what happens to women who live in the U.S. every day. “Sorry about your dead baby, now please pay up.”

Right wing politicians in the States call a nationalized health care system socialism. I disagree. Supporting it is one of the most egotistical things out there. Because that’s really who you’re helping by supporting it – yourself.

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31 Responses to “Not a Socialist, an Egotist”

  1. RelaxedNoMore August 3, 2012 at 13:55 #

    You’re so right!
    When I was living in the U.S. as an Au-Pair, I was very lucky to only fall ill once, with a nasty case of the flu. The family didn’t take me to their family doc, because the tiny bit of insurance they paid for me, wouldn’t have covered it. They took me to the local health clinic. I had to cough up about 20 or 50 bucks (don’t recall exactly). And all I got for that was the following: the doc listened to my chest – through 3 layers of thick winter clothing! And told me it was congested and to go get some cough syrup. Duh. I’d been coughing my lungs out for a week, I didn’t need him to tell me that.
    Supporting universal health care not only is healthily egotistical, it also makes lots of sense in a macro-economical view – just think of all the “work power” and “buying power” that’s destroyed if people can’t afford to get healthy and/or have to spend all their money on medical bills…

  2. Heather August 3, 2012 at 13:59 #

    That’s very interesting. Here in South Africa it is similar to the states, even if you have medical aid, you land up paying a lot. For the birth of Nicholas we had to pay all these specialists. When I had a hospital stay during my pregnancy R6000 out of our own pocket (that’s almost $1000 for a two night stay). And we pay almost that amount every month to them. Although my hubby’s meds are about that so in that sense we win.
    When I lived in Taiwan it was so nice and different – you don’t pay, you just get your card stamped for whatever medical appointment. I had two root canals also for a low fee – bonus.
    Yes the medical aids are just there to get rich in my opinion!!
    SA is supposed to be working on some national healthcare, it will be interesting to see what pans out.

  3. SRB August 3, 2012 at 14:10 #

    Preach! We get a lot of American news, and I find this whole thing staggering. My family would have been ruined by the cost of my brother’s chemo, two years in hospital, and bone marrow transplant. Not to mention my Mom’s cancer, or my Dad’s, or my nerve graft, or my puncutured trachea. All my IF was covered (except drugs) because I never got as far as IVF (not covered in my province). Even with “insurance” the co pays…we would have never climbed out of that debt.

    So while we complain about access in Canada, we never complain about affordability. I am HAPPY to “pay for others” because sometimes, it’s my turn.

  4. Courtney August 3, 2012 at 15:11 #

    All I’m going to say is that the new health care bill totally screwed my family up the ass. I mean – UP THE ASS. We lost our awesome plan because the politicians believe it to be too good and unfair – and called it the Cadillac plan. So our employer took it away. It’s gone. Poof. Just like that. Every doctor visit was “free” for us for the last 3 years. No co-pays. No deductibles. Nothing. Our premiums were tiny. Just like what you are experiencing there. But it was provided by our employer. Our private employer. Now – the federal government gets involved, and it’s gone. What business is it of the government what my private employer provides me and my family? Poof. Just like that. Gone.

    And that’s all I’ll say about that.

    • Denise August 3, 2012 at 23:42 #

      I think you should talk to your employer- they made it go poof- not the government. The ACA expands care- it’s not telling employers to get rid of their care. That’s up to individual employers.

      • Courtney August 4, 2012 at 05:23 #

        Right – they made the choice because it was the “cadillac plan” (government’s term, not mine) that was going to be taxed to the hilt to pay for the new policy. Of course my employer made it go away – because it was going to cost them way too much to keep it going. These are the facts – an internal memo was distributed explaining why it was going away. The taxation used to pay for this new policy caused the company to say, “we can’t afford to do this for you anymore.” That is a shame. I don’t blame our company one bit – it had to be done – but taxation forced their hand.

      • an american not in paris August 18, 2012 at 23:19 #

        I agree Denise. Courtney, you should talk to your employer. Most Americans do not get this type of insurance to begin with: my mother is a retired college professor and is currently in the “donut hole” with her co-pay which means ALL of the MANY meds that she needs are paid for 100% out of her pocket. This is why we need to stop this madness. And she is retired. Insurance companies are robbing older, retired people. See, once most Americans retire, they are no longer covered by their employer’s insurance. This is ridiculous.

        Sounds to me like your employer is trying to pull the wool over your eyes….

        I live in France and am so thankful that my IF treatment is, wait for it…. FREE. Yes folks, FREE. Paid for by French taxes that EVERYONE pays. AND, when I RETIRE, I will have the SAME coverage as all the other working people. If the US had invested in full health care for all Americans decades ago, we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation. But, here we are. Sigh….

  5. psychsarah August 3, 2012 at 15:40 #

    Great post! As a proud Canadian, I absolutely cannot wrap my thick, apparently-socialist brain around the reasons for not providing health care to everyone. I really believe it should be a human right. Things aren’t perfect here, I know, but as you explain it is in Israel, a medical issue won’t bankrupt you. We get a lot of American news/media here, and I listen to the excuses to not provide universal healthcare, and I just shake my head. I know for the privileged few, healthcare is wonderful in the US-if you have money, you can get the best possible care in no time flat, but for everyone else, it’s a landmine with dire consequences, both financially and medically. Sometimes it feels like most of my pay is eaten up in taxes, but then I think of the fact that I can seek medical care for myself or a family member and not even have to contemplate my finances in that decision and realize that we’re very very lucky here.

  6. Amy August 3, 2012 at 16:01 #

    It is amazing to me some of the shit the Republicans (and Tea Party) say and their followers then believe. It makes me sick. I can’t wait until the elections are over.

    I’ve had health insurance continuously since my first job out of college in 1997. As a young woman, I went for “cheap” and had insurance in a managed health system. It worked great for me. I didn’t pay much monthly, and while I had copays for prescriptions and visits, they were manageable. When I was laid off for almost a year, I paid out of pocket for that same coverage: $285/month. I didn’t use it much, but since we were already 2 years into TTC, I wasn’t going to risk pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. (Didn’t have to worry about that one, but better safe than sorry.) when I was hired by a state government agency, my hubby and I jumped at the chance to go back to that same HMO…even cheaper per month.

    I learned the cost, though, when I was not taken seriously as a high risk pregnant woman of advanced maternal age who was carrying ART twins, had already had a moderate placental abruption by the time I was under their care and was bleeding and spotting daily. We drop kicked them on January 1, choosing instead to pay more for the right to see whichever doctors we choose. I will not be treated that way again.

    The only silver lining from the HMO was that my loss ordeal – nearly 7 hours in the ER, another ultrasound, then inpatient care for 30 hours with induction of labor, IV pain meds, delivery of twins and a D&C to the tune of over $15,000 – cost us only $270 (we got a 10% discount for paying the hospital in full within 30 days).

    In contrast, my outpatient operative hysteroscopy two weeks ago today, done in the same hospital under different insurance, will cost us $700 (of over $18,000).

    We have zero infertility coverage. We continue to pay out of pocket for the chance – and privilege – of having a take home baby. We figure we’ve already paid $22,000 over the last two years (cash as we go), and are about to embark on “real” IVF ($10,000 + meds per cycle using my eggs, $18,000 inclusive per cycle for donor). It makes me sick to consider the cost, and yet any chance of bringing home a healthy child – even through adoption – will cost us dearly financially. It’s so unfair…and as the time/emotional/financial cost of our journey continues, the chasm that separates us from our peers who can reproduce at will and for free widens further.

  7. Jenny August 3, 2012 at 16:59 #

    I’m Canadian, my husband is American. When we married, we decided to live in Canada, and a large part of that reason (for me) was healthcare. My husband is covered because he’s a veteran, but that coverage wouldn’t include me. I knew that I could potentially have an extremely difficult, if not impossible, time getting coverage because of my PCOS diagnosis and history of depression.

    My husband is not yet covered by our provincial healthcare system, but he’s had to visit the doctor a few times since he’s been here and he’s astounded at how little it costs compared to the US. Whenever we get a medical bill he tells me that it would be at least 3x as much in the US, and then he goes into a long rant about how healthcare in the US should not be a for-profit business. At the end of the day, that’s the biggest hurdle Americans have to get over in order to have fair, accessible, affordable healthcare: it needs to stop being viewed as a profit-making business. Frankly, I would rather have the government run the medical system than leave it the hands of greedy capitalists. It’s not socialism or communism. It’s a basic human right.

  8. pjsarecomfyn August 3, 2012 at 17:30 #

    I won’t really get into how I feel one way or the other, but from a pure numbers aspect i fucking Loooovveee how the right says it will raise taxes to CRAZY high rates. My swedish sister pays 35% in income tax. But there is no sales tax there. In America we seem to forget we are taxed at EVERY turn. And some of us, are already taxed at 35%…….alright I guess I can’t really NOT say where I stand. I have mixed feelings about a universal healthcare (Obamacare not actually being universal if politicians will not be included in it). But I DO support a flat income tax. Where everyone pays the same rate and there are no deductions, etc. Taxes in the U.S. are a giant dog and pony show. Everyone get’s up in arms about their tax rate, yet it isn’t your actual tax rate if you are getting 1/2 of it back in January…..le sigh. Flat tax and I will keep an open mind about universal healthcare……but it has to be an actual universal healthcare, one that the politicians and the president himself will be on.

    • Courtney August 3, 2012 at 18:47 #

      Yes, yes, yes! The thing that gets me is that our tax rates are ALREADY where they are in Israel – but they already have universal health care. If this unfolds the way people are saying, our taxes will increase because no one wants to give up any programs to pay for it. So we will still be paying more than the rest of the world. And with the penalty to companies for not providing health care costing LESS than what it would to provide health care, more companies will stop providing it and it will become even more expensive. The way we did this is not right. I am for a public OPTION, I am not for what ended up being policy. Health care, despite the hopes and dreams of so many, is just going to cost us more. That’s the nature of it.

      Flat tax for everyone? I agree (well, I don’t believe in taxation at all because I’m a libertarian but if we’re going to tax, then make it equitable with everyone putting the same proportion of skin in the game)! It will never happen though.

      • pjsarecomfyn August 3, 2012 at 19:26 #

        Agreed Courtney. What we need and what we will get are two EXTREMELY different things. Let’s get outta here!…..LOL

  9. Her Royal Fabulousness August 3, 2012 at 17:51 #

    I completely agree with everything you said. I live in a state with mandatory infertility coverage, thank God. If I didn’t infertility treatment would have been totally inaccessible. I think of how inaccessible regular medical treatment is to so many Americans and can’t see how ANYONE would argue with Obamacare. But people do, and it sickens me. I just wrote a post about how I just had a first hand experience with medical care for the wealthy only, and it scares me.

  10. missohkay August 3, 2012 at 21:09 #

    Yes. I don’t understand why the “socialism” boogeyman is so frightening to Americans. And why they are so dead-set against “European-style” healthcare. People are so easily convinced to argue against things that would be beneficial to them and they don’t even recognize it.

  11. Belle August 3, 2012 at 21:10 #

    THANK YOU! I have an urge to print this out and hand it to every one who argues against nationalized healthcare. When we did our taxes this year I tallied up all my copays for doctor visits, hospital visits and meds – $4,200. This does NOT include any IVF or IUI related expenses or any fertility meds which were out of pocket. $4,200 alone because I got sick. And I have GOOD insurance. The people I know who bellyache about nationalized healthcare have never been sick. Walk in our (someone with a chronic condition) shoes for a little while and I’m pretty sure they would change their tune.

  12. Rebecca Pallack (@RPallack) August 3, 2012 at 21:14 #

    I remember the days when I couldn’t even afford to see a doctor because the co-pay after the insurance we paid out weekly left us with a choice of food or doctor. I’m sick to death of health insurance and think its ridiculous to force all Americans to buy something that should be paid for out of our taxes to begin with. Buying insurance just takes more money out of our already empty pockets and nutritious food off our tables. So the poor can only afford high carb, low nutrient foods now that they are forced to pay for medical insurance. Our system is broken and I really don’t see a way to fix it.

  13. Kristin August 4, 2012 at 00:36 #

    Fabulous post! I love when people in other countries discuss their experience with universal healthcare. There is a campaign of misinformation afoot in the US that tells a story of universal healthcare where no one gets care at all. And, Obamacare isn’t even universal healthcare! We are a long ways away from that policy reality. Until the US sees health as a public good, as alluded to by RelaxedNoMore, we will continue to incrementally alter a broken system that conflates profits and health – a terrible combination.

  14. firstcomes August 4, 2012 at 00:48 #

    … And here I was only a week ago complaining that dental should be covered by Medicare (Australia’s public health system).

  15. L August 4, 2012 at 01:13 #

    I was one of those women getting the bill for the D&E after my loss. I kept getting bills up to 20 months after the procedure, after I was taking care of my healthy rainbow baby. And of course about 20
    % of the bills contain errors that take hours on the phone to remedy. The system here is spectacularly messed up.

  16. Cristy August 4, 2012 at 02:10 #

    Amen!

    Grey and I live in a state where there is zero fertility coverage. So, following my D&C, we had to pay $1000 out of pocket to cover the expense of having my RE performing the surgery (that was a fun bill, btw). Add in the out-of-pocket cost of treatments ($1000 per IUI; $12K for IVF; $3K per FET), the expense of counseling due to infertility (marriage counseling is not covered = $175 a session; individual counseling is, but that’s $32 a session) and general health expenses (eye-related, general health, etc) and it’s been an expensive couple of years. All of this while Grey and I have health insurance. And better health insurance than when we were graduate students (it’s amazing how bad the welfare and pension plan is). And we are generally healthy individuals.

    Look, the US universal healthcare initiative (aka Obamacare) isn’t perfect, but it’s a far better option than what we currently have in place: a bunch of HMO bigwigs getting fat off of the general populous. It’s a huge sign that something is off when physicians are pushing procedures just to meet a bottom line. The reality is, the system is on the verge of collapse. Something will change, whether people like it or not. It’s just a matter of how and how many people are going to suffer based on the decisions of our leaders.

  17. cw August 4, 2012 at 06:50 #

    Couldn’t agree more. If I had gone public then my pregnancy wouldn’t have cost me a cent. Whilst ivf we have to pay for we get v good rebates and deductions. My heart breaks when I hear of some of the health care issues the girls go through.

  18. Lise August 4, 2012 at 21:51 #

    I’m never more happy to live in Sweden than when I read blogs by US girls who have to pay a fortune for healthcare and fertility treatments. Our public system gives me three IVF treatments and ALL following FETs for free. Awsome. And when I had my ectopic the surgery and three days in hospital cost me like 100 euro. I love public healthcare!

  19. Lex August 4, 2012 at 23:37 #

    My sister lives in the USA now, and she had the flu. $360 out of pocket. That’s how much I paid out of pocket in France for a full RPL workup including karyotyping. I can only agree with you on this!

  20. TheStorkWhisperer August 5, 2012 at 01:22 #

    I am desperately praying that I get to keep my insurance coverage. I don’t live in a mandated state, but my employer pays a portion of my infertility costs. Even with the insurance, I struggle to pay the balance and the rest of my bills. But, it is the cost I pay for the chance to have a child.

    I don’t think Obamacare is going to do much for those wishing to start a family. I believe the plan focuses more on preventing and ending pregnancies. It’s a shame because some of us need more help than we ever have needed it in our lives.

  21. Katie August 5, 2012 at 03:34 #

    I can’t tell you how much I’ve paid out of pocket for my losses. It makes me sick…and we have good insurance. It’s not even the ART that is breaking the bank…it’s the miscarriages and all that comes with one, or in my case, three.

  22. Sunny August 6, 2012 at 00:35 #

    Amen. Amenamenamenamenamenamen, and THANK YOU for posting this. As a US resident, the health care in this country sickens me. I currently pay about $200 a month for my husband and I to be insured through my work, and another $250 a month into an individual plan for myself. This individual plan is because should I ever become unemployed, I will be uninsurable due to PCOS, skin cancer (stage 1 melanoma), and a benign breast lump I’ve had. These are all pretty serious things, but I was denied once when I was 22 years old due to an ABNORMAL PAP (ummm….who HASN’T had one of those?) and had to wait 1 year until I could try again. This was BEFORE any of the cancer shit or breast lumps! I got on the individual plan I’m on now, and kept it ever since. Three years ago the removal of my benign breast lump required 4 hours in the hospital. I got a $25,000 bill, and still ended up paying about $2,000 out of pocket. Last year, I spent nearly $10,000 out of pocket in medical expenses due to doctors appointments and mole removals. I can’t wait until Hubs and I start going to an RE (not covered by insurance) We’re bracing ourselves for tens of thousands of dollars in bills for ultrasounds alone. I try to avoid calling it OBAMA Care (which is a term FOX Fiction likes to throw around to get the right wingers all riled up muttering “socialism” under their breath), and prefer to call it Health Care. A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. I have an excellent health plan through work, btw, and it has not been effected in the least due to Universal Health Care. You hit a hot button issue, Mo! Health Care gets me stomping mad sometimes!

  23. jjiraffe August 6, 2012 at 08:46 #

    Amen.

  24. loribeth August 8, 2012 at 01:10 #

    Another Canadian here who knows our system is not perfect, but would never, ever trade for the U.S. system (sorry). I hear stories from some of my American relatives (some of whom have kept working well past 65, just to retain their health coverage) that boggle my mind. (And yet some of them still rail against Obamacare… ???)

    • an american not in paris August 18, 2012 at 23:29 #

      Amen Loribeth. And Amen to this post. I complain about a lot of things in France, but one of the reasons why I decided to stay is because I was traumatized by the health care system. First because of my mother’s health issues and second because of my decision 10 years ago to have an abortion because I didn’t have health insurance oh yeah, and the guy I was with at the time forced himself on me when I didn’t want him to because I couldn’t afford my pill that month…. Now my mother’s medical costs have become so high that she can no longer come to France to see me. Yeah, health care costs in the US really do ruin people’s lives.

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