Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Healthcare Crisis

I am getting ready to have hip replacement surgery in two weeks. I went to my family doctor yesterday for my preoperative appointment. I was deemed in acceptable physical health to undergo surgery. My emotional health is a little more precarious. The prospect of this operation is making me moody and anxious. The doctor gave me some Xanax for temporary relief from anxiety and upped my dose of Effexor, which I have been on for about a year for my dysthimia (long term low level depression).

I went to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions and was in sticker shock. It was $87 for all three. I usually only pay a $4 or $10 co-pay depending on the drug. For some reason the Effexor was $70; better than the $400 it was originally, but not something I was planning on paying.

In further preparation, I made an appointment for my husband to give blood for me in case I need it post-op (which I did last time). I found out that they now charge fees up to $300 for designated blood donations. I was not planning on that charge either. Now we have to weigh taking my chances on needing blood from the general population blood bank or paying extra to get his blood.

We have already paid the surgeon the $500 he asked for, before he will even operate on me. This was also a new consideration. When I had this same procedure five years ago I was not asked to pay in advance. I guess a lot of people are skipping out on doctor bills, so he has to collect up front. We are lucky - we have that money in our savings account. I feel bad for those who don't.

When this surgery is all said and done we will have spent about $4000 out of pocket on a $30,000 procedure. Some of that money we have 'laying around' and some of it we will have to pay in installments to the hospital. I am grateful for good insurance, but I can't help but feel downcast for those who don't have it. What if someone had to live with the pain of AVN simply because she was uninsured.

Our healthcare system in this country needs a total revamp. Call me a socialist all you want, but I would be the first one in line in favor of Universal Healthcare. I have heard people espouse "I've got great health insurance, (because I work hard, because my company offers it, etc) why should I have to pay for health care for someone else?” I just don't understand this mentality. Yes there are lazy people in the world. Yes there are people who would take advantage of the situation. These people already exist. Creating Universal Healthcare is not going to make much difference in the monies that we are already spending to take care of people who don't need it. I believe it could make a difference in the lives of those who do without it.
We can't make the country deadbeat free; that is impossible. To take away healthcare for those who truly need it just because we are afraid to give benefits to someone who may take advantage of the system is just foolhardy. We are already paying for the freeloaders anyway. They are the people who go to the ER; receive medical attention and then bolt, never paying their bill. These costs have to be absorbed somewhere.

Our poorest population is at this time covered by Government sponsored healthcare. I worry about the average working family who struggles to make ends meet and may at different points have to choose between taking a sick child to the doctor and going to the grocery store. My heart aches for our elderly Americans. They worked diligently all of their lives, only now to have illnesses that go untreated because they simple can’t afford to go to the doctor, or can’t afford the medications that would treat their conditions. Yes there are some programs for these people, but it’s not enough.

We can’t go through life only thinking about ourselves and being selfish with the ‘Why should I have to pay for someone else’ attitude. It is just wrong at a base level. We should all be cognizant of the world beyond our own front door. As a Christian I have to pray and search the scriptures for what God would have me do. He is my guide and my conscience.

When I go to the polls this election year, I will think long and hard about this issue, as well as others. I will indeed vote my conscience.

Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)
The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."