Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Stories: Coalinga, CA

Ben has a very important question he wants you to answer.

I am a disabled worker in California. It took close to 3 years to get approved on Social Security. What a mess there! Well, I finally got accepted and things started to fall in place. I went on Senior Advantage with Kaiser. Great, only $17 a month, and they got the Medicare money of $100-plus at the time. By the end of the year, the price tripled, and they still got the Medicare money, which also went up. It went up to almost $300 a month. The Teamsters renegotiated and added co-pays to doctor visits and medications, which were on top of the original amount if you went more than twice in a month. I finally had to stop my health care because of its being too expensive. Almost $340 a month -- plus the $140 to $150 they got from Medicare. That Medicare money is subtracted from my payment each month before I get it. Now what is worse--having government health care or health care the poor and disabled can't afford?

Coalinga, CA

1 comment:

PG said...

Dear Bill - thanks for your e-mail concerning this. I thankfully have no major illness or disability. But I do thank the Lord that we have the National Health Service, free at the point of service, to everyone. Sure, it does not always work perfectly...but I have peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to me, or if I fall ill, I can ring my doctor's (or simply go down to the 'drop in' centre and see the nurse) free of charge, or if I have an accident I will be picked up and looked after. I am on a very low income, and could not afford any kind of insurance; if I lived in the States, I would be terrified of anything happening to me.
There ARE problems of course, as there are in any system, but no more or less, I imagine, than in any organisation. The difference is, because the NHS is state run, the Government of the day can directly step in and do something about underperforming hospitals. People do not 'die on the streets waiting for care' - there are targets to be met, about how long a patient has to wait; for instance, my partner's mother has recently fallen ill with a couple of things. She has been to the doctor, been put on a course of steroids (the prescription is also free because she is a pensioner) had a liver scan, and is about to have another one, all within the space of a month. And all free. If she had been really concerned, she could have opted to be privately scanned, (at once) and paid for it herself. The results would have gone back to her NHS doctor and she could have gone on to have her free treatment on the NHS. The point is, she has the choice, as do we all. And she doesn't have to fear that she will not be able to afford what is an essential human need. I have always been appalled that the richest, most powerful country in the world neglects to care for all of its citizens. especially the poor, with its health care.
A final little story; last year my partner started having erratic heartbeats, and had his first attack at work. An ambulance was rushed to his workplace, he was taken to hospital, given tests and cared for by attentive staff. he said it made him proud to be British and of the NHS. His health progress was monitored, and the closest of care given, until they were sure he was ok. I wonder what would have happened to him in the USA if he had not had health insurance...
The only thing Americans have to fear from a similar system coming into place is health equality; it strikes me that the biggest crime in your country is to be poor and some people, more comfortably off than others, sit back in smug satisfaction because they are provided for, and anyone else who isn't - well, that's just tough. It's wrong.

Good luck with your campaigning, and to you, personally.