Monday, January 4, 2010

I give our health care system two thumbs down!

On New Year's Eve, I hacked off the tip of my left thumb with a hand axe. (No I had not yet begun the festivities when it happened.) The photo on the left shows how much of the tip I lost.

I probably should have gone to the ER, but with little in the bank and a $5,000 deductible on my health insurance policy, I anguished over what would be the correct thing to do. Many friends urged me to go to the ER, but I was afraid they would simply dress the wound and charge me $750 for the privilege.

I probably should have gone to the ER, but the holidays have been especially tight, so I would have been giving the hospital my food and mortgage money - what a crappy choice to have to make.

So 4 days after the injury, I am finally going to see my family doctor, though I am cringing over the amount he will charge. If my doctor advises referring me to a wound care specialist, I will have to tell him that I can't afford to comply with his advice.

I can't believe this is my life.

Just a few years ago, I had a decent 80/20 health care plan, and didn't think twice about visiting the doctor when I needed to. Then, from 2006 to 2007, my premiums doubled. I had to downgrade to a crappy Health Savings Account policy. And since 2007, my business has dropped by more than half, so I haven't been able to put any funds into the account.

If you had told me back in 2006 that in a few short years, I wouldn't be able to afford to take care of a relatively serious physical injury, I would have laughed at you.

I'm not laughing now.

This injury really is a wake-up call. I can't believe how vulnerable I feel.

And there's no relief in sight. The so-called health care reform bill offers lots of perks to the insurance industry, but little to the average American - and even those crumbs won't kick in until 2014, because the politicians don't want to piss off the health care and insurance industries that donate to their campaigns. So the politicians aren't thinking about the 135,000 who will die because they are delaying reform - they're only thinking about their re-election.

I keep looking at my bandaged thumb in disbelief. I want to fool myself into thinking that there is still a complete, intact thumb under all that gauze. I want to fool myself into thinking that I am still a member of middle-class society, where there is a chicken in every pot, and a robust health insurance card in every wallet.

But I know better. Health care is simply another one of life's essentials that has been stripped from us by the corporatocracy. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you, too.

Call your Congressional Representative and your Senators and tell them if re-election is that important to them, they need to offer us real health care reform now!

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