Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sicko and Our Failing Healthcare System

Recently I had the opportunity to see Sicko, a documentary directed by Michael Moore about the American health care system. Several people from different states had been urging me to see this eye-opening film, and indeed it is. Eye-opening. I urge everyone to see Sicko, which has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Some of the things you can expect to learn from the film (or perhaps you already know or are maybe already living it):

  • Approximately 50 million Americans are without health insurance, and 18000 will die because they cannot afford treatment.
  • We are ranked 37th in health care by the World Health Organization. Our infant mortality rate is higher than many other western countries, and our longevity isn’t as long.
  • Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent convincing us that our health system is the best, that it isn’t broken and that it doesn’t need fixed.In fact, it’s estimated that $100 million was spent to defeat First Lady Hillary Clinton’s universal health care plan.

The statistics are staggering, and the reality hits hard. I personally know of a woman with a fibroid tumor and in tremendous pain, who does not have health insurance and cannot afford the astronomical costs of surgery. She is forced to suffer and endure. But she is one of the lucky ones, and will soon be eligible for her employer provided health insurance. For her, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For many others, there isn’t.

For over three years now, I have had the privilege to pay outrageously high premiums for individual health care policies for my family. To keep costs down, we elected high deductibles and hoped for the best. This year our luck ran out. I’ll know more precisely after filing my income taxes in the upcoming weeks, but I estimate we have medical expenses in the neighborhood of $15,000 this year following an ambulance ride and a one-week hospital stay. Yes, and we are one of the lucky ones that had insurance!

Today I was sent an email with a link to a video about autistic children. In it I learned that many, or more likely most, healthcare plans do not cover the necessary therapy that these children need. What’s most sad is that with autistic children the results are more effective and far reaching the earlier the therapy begins, but yet our healthcare system delays diagnosis and adopts a “wait and see” mentality, all the while losing precious time for these kids.

Healthcare reform must occur! Americans’ deserve better than this!

While he certainly isn’t getting the press or attention of Hillary or Obama on the Democratic side, I bring up John Edwards now. I recently read his plans on health care, and I must admit I was impressed. Here is a candidate that I believe understands the need for change and the best way to get there. He is proposing a public/private combination that should truly spur competition and provide health care for all.

Well I guess not having written for most of the month of January, I am certainly making up for it here. Let me close by saying we still live in a democratic society and as such, we can still make a difference. Go rent Sicko (it’s available at Blockbuster), urge your representatives to support healthcare reform, and maybe listen a little closer to John Edwards’ healthcare plan. We are supposed to be the greatest nation in the world. Isn’t it time we stand up to the greedy and live our pledge, “…with justice and liberty for all.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Setting the Tone

The New Year's holiday has always held special meaning for me. Steeped in tradition, in contemplation and hope, I've always held the belief that New Year's Day sets the tone for the upcoming year. Gads, I may be in trouble this year. It's still early, so certainly no need to despair, but I think I'd better eat lots of black-eyed peas and cabbage, you know the good luck foods that require immense creativity to make palatable.

Let me explain how my New Year's Day began. My dog, yes, faithful companion and best friend of man, started out the New Year on the wrong note. A lovely dog by all means, an Australian Shepherd breed, he is the biggest extrovert of a dog you would ever hope to meet. He can't bear to be alone for even a minute. When he is alone, he gets mad. And then he gets even by hiking his leg and marking his spot, usually on the nearest and most available house plant.

We learned early on that to correct this "situation" we shut the dog and his loving sister, the cat, in the laundry room together when we are about to leave the house. It has worked beautifully! The cat and dog have further bonded, and the dog, God bless his heart, hasn't peed on anything in the laundry room. Of course, we don't have any house plants in the laundry room either.

As you may already know, at midnight in Texas on New Year's Eve, the loudest and brightest fireworks spew across the skies. I went outside to share in the excitement last night with my husband in tow. Oooh. Aaah. We marveled at the brightly lit sky. We wished our daughters a happy New Year, and then quickly returned back to the warmth inside. Last night was cold, even by New England standards.

Five minutes, tops. That's how long we might have been outside at the maximum. And neither of us gave thought to locking the dog (and cat) in their chambers while we walked outside for just a minute. Big mistake. He showed us. Oh the agony of starting the year cleaning dog spray, aka urine, from the carpet. My husband is so mad at the dog; he hasn't yet said a word to him! Let's hope this isn't a reflection of the year ahead.

All that being said, I still have a full day in front of me. And on a positive note (I do like to end on a positive note), I spent the first hour of my day writing. Let's hope this IS a reflection of the year ahead!

Here's wishing you a Happy New Year! May all your resolutions hold true, and may all your blank pages be filled with interesting muse, engaging stories, fascinating description, and proverbial good words!