Health Care

by William Skink

As the weather warms, I will finally be able to get my chubby ass on a bicycle. It wasn’t just weather that kept me from riding–it was also the pesky fact I didn’t have health insurance.

It was mostly my fault for not understanding I only had a 60 day window to get on my family’s BCBS plan, which was expensive and set to go up this year. I tried working with a navigator for the ACA at Planned Parenthood to get coverage, but for reasons I still don’t understand she couldn’t help me.

My effective date for coverage with my new employer was March 1st. I consider myself lucky.

The big news bouncing around is 14 million people are estimated to lose their coverage in the first year of Trumpcare. It’s grim enough to hear about the slice of Medicaid dependency I deal with daily, but to imagine how much worse it could get, words fail.

Until tomorrow, when I’ll try to make words like “spend-down” make sense again.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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20 Responses to Health Care

  1. Big Swede says:

    When I think of BCBS I’m reminded of a monopoly. Monopolies never act in our best interest.

    “Ryancare requires that insurance cover people with pre-existing conditions. That is not insurance, that is a handout. If the government is going to give people handouts, should be done openly through government funded hospitals and the like. If you rope private enterprise into giving handouts, you will find that this turns out to be a stupendously expensive way of providing handouts, not a cheap way.

    You order private enterprise to give handouts, you wind up giving them monopolies so that they can fund these handouts, and they wind up abusing these monopolies. Further, people receiving handouts tend to be problem people. Some of them are unlucky, but most of them are no good. You don’t want no good people showing up to hospital in front of the good people who are actually paying for the hospital, or you get the Canadian situation, where no Canadian who can avoid it goes to a Canadian hospital but rather nips across the nearby border to an American hospital, because the Canadian hospital is full of homeless and drug addicts. And when I say full, I mean very full indeed, with beds in the corridors and urine soaked sheets, and not a normal middle class person in sight.”-Jim’s Blog

    • You’ve touched, if ever so innocently, on why private health insurance does not work, can not work. If required to offer insurance to people who need health care, which might be expensive, insurers hide behind the door. It only demonstrates that they are leaches on the system, and that the private model is defective. The idea that you want to deny health care to sick people due to cost is abhorrent, inhuman, Randian.

      You story about Canadians coming to the US for cares is, of course, bonkers, endlessly repeated, never validated. You live in a fact-free environment, never having to deal in evidence. Nice.

      • steve kelly says:

        Swiss plan makes ours look medieval.

        From Wikipedia:
        The Swiss healthcare system is a combination of public, subsidised private and totally

        private systems:

        public: e. g. the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) with 2,350 beds, 8,300 staff and 50,000 patients per year;
        subsidised private: the home care services to which one may have recourse in case of a difficult pregnancy, after childbirth, illness, accident, handicap or old age;

        totally private: doctors in private practice and in private clinics.

      • Big Swede says:

        From the National Post (Canadian Paper).

        “The number of Canadian patients who travelled abroad in 2014 to receive non-emergency medical treatment increased 25% from 2013, according to a study conducted by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian independent research and education organization.

        In 2014, 52,513 Canadians travelled beyond our borders to seek medical treatment, compared with 41,838 in 2013. The numbers suggest that the Canadian health care system could not comply with the needs and demands of a substantial number of Canadian patients, according to the study.

        Matt Gurney: A 15-month wait for ‘urgent’ medical care. Thanks, Ontario!

        Last year, trying to explain how Canada’s system works to American friends, I told them that the Canadian single-payer system was great at saving your life from a conventional illness or injury. The flip side of that, though, is that if you’re not quite in danger of death, you can be in for a rough ride. Outside of a few specific areas targeted for aggressive wait time reductions — things like knee and hip replacements, MRIs, cataract surgery and the like — you can be pretty much screwed if you need a test or procedure for anything less than a life-threatening condition. The system’s limited resources will always, naturally, go to those most in need. So you’ll wait.

        That’s what I used to say, anyway. Now, I’m less sure the system could even effectively save your life.

        Read more …
        The percentage of Canadian patients who travelled abroad to receive non-emergency medical care was 1.1 per cent, an increase compared to 0.9 per cent in 2013.

        The study speculates as to why Canadian patients left the country to pursue treatment elsewhere. The reasons include a lack of available resources and equipment in their home jurisdiction; and the desire for more advanced health care facilities and technology.”

        • JC says:

          Fraser Institute is anything but “independent.” It is heavily funded by the Koch brothers, and is associated with ALEC.

          As to the anecdotal reports (unverified), you only need to look to the needs of all the uninsured in the U.S. to see that the wait times for critical and needed care — i.e. everything but a trip to the county health department for cold meds, or a trip to the ER — would approach infinity except for the fact that people die.

          Oh, and speaking of medical tourism studies, Patients Beyond Borders reports that 1.4 million americans will travel abroad to get health care. Doubt that many of the uninsured in america could afford to go abroad to get cheaper health care though… Pine caskets or cremation is much cheaper.

        • Of all the provinces, Ontario has faced the most problems, and is where you hear the most complaints. No system is without problems (ours are enormous and mostly caused by insurance companies and all their co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and red tape). (Canadians are warned if they travel to the states to purchase health insurance, as getting sick down here is extremely costly.

          The waiting lists up there are for chronic conditions, not emergent care. That is things like hip replacements, back surgeries, where people are uncomfortable but manage. My step daughter’s mother is on such a waiting list. She complains, but manages. I have no clue about things like efficacy of surgeries and hip replacements and all of that, nor do you. But that sort of thing down here in the states is generally done by our Medicare system. Seems our socialized medicine is better than theirs.

          Taken as a whole, our health care is pretty good for trauma, but unable to cure illnesses. I’ve lost three brothers to cancer, and doctors could do nothing for them. They don’t know how. It’s amazingly expensive and ineffective.

          And anyway, the Canadian numbers are trifling, insignificant. Americans going to Mexico for care are putting pressure on that system. Costa Rica offers far better and cheaper dentistry, and Americans flock down there for it. The overwhelming majority of Canadians prefer their system, and the majority of Americans do not like ours. That’s because the marketplace cannot deal with health care without scaling and exclusion. The profit incentive demands that a certain percentage of the population be without insurance.

          Wrote that all by myself, I did. Did not throw one citation at you. I try to think for myself.

        • Big Swede says:

          Here’s one citation free. If US governmental run health care (insurance free) is nirvana how come the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Association is so fucked up?

          And what would prevent our current system from suffering the same wait times as other nations?

        • Big Swede says:

          JC, would you support a ban on medical tourism including fines for the privileged that dare seek quality care across our borders?

        • I would encourage you to investigate those questions yourself, Swede, but first removing confirmation bias from your mind. Just kidding. I know you cannot do that. I do not think the VA is as screwed up as you think, and know nothing about Indian health care. But if we can’t heal white people. i don’t imagine we can help them either.

  2. Big Swede says:

    By the way I just heard on the news that Trump has 8 senators in his back pocket waiting to vote for Ryancare.

    Does that mean Tester will cross over to the dark side?

    • Big Swede says:

      I’ll answer my own question with James Conner’s meltdown.

      “I need a break from: reactionary Republicans; prevaricating politicians; lying legislators; dissembling Democrats; black masked anarchists; identity politics; confused and ignorant voters; arrogant bureaucrats; haughty educators; zealots and crackpots and nitwits; global warming deniers; nuts who will register babies but not assault weapons; raw milk legalizers; crusaders for child election judges; cruel fools with an unreasoning fear of opioid painkillers who would deny people in agony the mercy of Mother Morphine; darksiders trying to dismiss Daylight Saving Time. The world has gone crazy, and I’ll go crazy, too, if I don’t step back from the madness for a few days. See you when Spring starts.”- James Conner.

      I think Jimmy knows Tester’s intentions.

  3. Eric Coobs says:

    Let’s use some common sense here as we listen to the scare-tactics.

    First, there will be no single-payer, or ‘universal’ health care in the USA. Never Happen.

    Second, Obamacare is on life support, and dying – if the GOP were to let it run it’s course, this terrible legislation would come to it’s own gasping breath, and EVERYBODY would be screwed.

    Third – the GOP plan isn’t shutting down the safety nets that were always there, medicare, and medicaid will go on.

    So ride your bike – I hope to get my motorcycle out, and since it’ll go much faster than your bicycle I’ll do the worrying for us both.

  4. Craig Moore says:

    As I understand it 14 million are NOT losing their coverage. Those 14 million will forgo coverage when the penalty is eliminated. That is a matter of choice.

  5. Eric Coobs says:

    Mark, you are wrong.

    For years I traveled Montana in my sales jobs, and I used to stay at the Comfort Inn in Great Falls, and I ran into numerous Canadians down here to get surgery at Benefis Hospital.

    If you need a heart bypass, you get into a hospital in Canada pretty quick.

    Need a new elbow? Prepare to wait, Need a minor surgery on your foot? Same thing.

    • That is nonsense, Eric, in addition to being anecdotal. Here’s how much I have to think about it: They’d have to pay cash, up front. Stop and think: Who is going to come down to the states and lay out thousands of dollars for something that will be taken care of at no expense by merely waiting? It does not happen.

      Canada has a better system than we do. It is not perfect. When you offer access to all citizens, it sometimes get crowded. Our way, to deny care to enough people to eliminate waiting, is not a good answer.

  6. Eric says:

    Well Mark, you are stopping and thinking, yet I was having Complimentary breakfasts with Canuks down here going to Benefis.
    That’s why I say you are flat wrong.
    I can’t prove how many, or how often of course, just what I saw.

    • It sounds like just chatter, Eric, by by definition anecdotal. It even sounds like our media coverage here in this country, where they manage to find Canadians who don’t like the system up there and Americans who do like ours, both minorities, and they become the thrust of the story. That is usually what you get when they run a conference down here,completely biased.

      Did you ask them why they would come down here to be (over) charged for procedures they could get up there as part of the general Single Payer package? I cannot imagine anyone would do that, go out of pocket.

      And again, this is searchable, but hospitals in the US near the border do not report any influx of Canadians.

      There is one thing that creates confusion – certain very expensive equipment that tends to be under-utilized in small communities is sometimes cross-bordered by agreement with US hospitals, and some people are sent to the states for that purpose.

  7. Eric says:

    It was universally waiting time.

    • That’s is your general impression and if you want to be honest about it, you have not thought about it or applied any real critical thought to it. It just pleases your prejudices?

      The reasons why our health care system does not work well, and why other systems work better, have to do with the profit motive interfering with every decision in out country. No system is perfect, but every other country but ours shows better results at less cost. If you can turn around and look behind you and check to see if you have a tail, it might help.

  8. Eric Coobs says:

    Thanks for the laugh Mark – I forget how funny you can be !

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