Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

March 30th, 2012 10:32 PM

Before and After: Healthcare Insanity in America

It doesn’t really matter what the Supreme Court does with the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  It’s a classic “heads I win, tails you lose” situation for millions of people.   The system we have now is dominated by profit-takers.  The system we might have under the PPACA will continue to be dominated by profit-takers.  My health or lack thereof is now and will be under corporate control.

More than a month ago, my doctor ordered testing to provide a more accurate diagnosis after some cancer markers were elevated in my lab results.  My insurance company denied the tests.  My insurance company approved three other tests.  I had them done.  But the specialist reviewing those results still wanted the originally ordered tests.  Now the insurance company said yes.  So now I’ll have the tests I might have had five weeks ago.  I’ve been scanned and poked and prodded and injected with radioactive isotopes.  And now I will have contrast dye injected after more blood tests to make sure my body can process the contrast – and then perhaps I’ll finally have the tests originally ordered.  I’ve paid six co-pays instead of one.  I’ll have large co-insurance bills to pay for every test along the way.  Oh, and I have waited and worried and wondered.

So forgive me if I don’t see how what the Supreme Court decides matters one way or the other in situations like mine.  There is nothing short of getting the profit-taking insurance companies out of the loop that will stop what I have been going through.  No one stands accountable for this sort of run around except me – left holding the financial bag, diminished in my professional life standing because I’ve had to have so many medical appointments, and made weary from the wait and worry.  I long for the day when patients can pay attention to health and not fear all the other unnecessary consequences.

None of us should wonder why healthcare costs are out of control in America when we consider how many scenarios like mine play out every day across the country.   I could have had one set of tests weeks ago and instead I’ve had several additional tests and I’ve seen two additional specialists.  That kind of system doesn’t come cheap.

 The brutality of this system continues unabated.  And the brutality of this system will escalate as the profit-takers find more ways to protect their flow of revenues – unless, well, unless we put an end to it and finally extend Medicare for life to all. We are fully capable of creating a system that is healthier and more cost effective.   We all pay into one public pool, and we all have our care to the doctors and providers we choose paid out of that one public pool.  The framework is already in place – improved, expanded Medicare for life.

The American Health Security Act of 2011, S915/HR1200, is already written and introduced.   And there is nothing unconstitutional about that.  Four of the Supreme Court justices are Medicare beneficiaries already, so they understand its value, and not one of them stepped up to mention it.  I’ll not be holding my breath for their decision on PPACA and their determination about the value of the rest of our lives.  But in an honest debate on the matter, someone might have asked Justices Bader Ginsberg, Scalia, Kennedy, and Breyer to show gratitude that they are mercifully spared from the worry and financial stress faced by non-Medicare recipients.

I wasn’t asked, of course, but I think it’s really quite awful to value some lives so much more than others in our healthcare system in a nation that has claimed it values all human life.  Mine hasn’t seemed to matter much in the process.  Has yours?

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