Are you ready for some changes?

Americans take their football seriously.  Maybe not quite as seriously as some Europeans take their football (which we refers to as soccer) – after all, fist-fights and knife fights between fans of rival teams are not too uncommon in Europe, but are somewhat rare here in America. Still, Americans can get worked up over football faster than they can most other things.  During the recent NFL referee strike, few things angered fans more than a series of missed calls, controversial calls, and downright wrong calls. The situation, most fans felt, was freaking intolerable:  they demanded action, they demanded change, they demanded the NFL get off it’s collective ass and sort things out with the real refs – stat!

And, by God, the NFL did exactly that! Faced with massive displeasure from the fans, a bargain was struck, and the real refs are back, as of tonight!  Well-done, America!

So why the hell can’t we do the same thing with Congress? Those people work for us. We pay their salaries. We are directly responsible for putting them in office. We have the power to remove them from office. Someone once said It’s within our power to depose the government – legally, and without blood-shed – every two years, when we go to the polls to hire or fire Congressmen and Senators. We have the power to get rid of jerks who line their pockets at our expense, we can get rid of creeps who want to ram their religious ideas down are throats, and ass-holes who want to limit what women can do with their own bodies, and homophobes who want to regulate who can and can’t be married, and rich men who burden already struggling people with taxes, while giving break after break after break to already wealthy companies …

But we haven’t done any of that. Not any of it at all. We sit and watch important pieces of legislation be stuck in a drawer until after the election, so that our representatives don’t have to go on the record when they’re under the most intense scrutiny.  Four years after sweeping Health care reform, most of us still can’t afford to get sick – the deductible on my insurance is $1000, almost double what it was 4 years back, because the Health Insurers, sensing that they were about to loose money, jacked their profits through the roof – and we, who are being screwed sans lubricant, haven’t demanded immediate action to fix it!

My room-mate is a college student. She comes from a poor family, has no money of her own, and works a part-time job with no health benefits.  She recently took a pretty serious blow to the noggin, has been experiencing bouts of dizziness and nausea ever since, and her doctor has scheduled her for a CT in a few days … we’ll table, for now, that fact that she might have traumatic brain injury, but can’t get a diagnostic procedure, or a treatment, for several days.

She can’t afford it. I can’t afford it. I called the diagnostic center and asked what would be the cash cost of a simple, non-ccontrast, CT of the head and neck …

$1,687 for the neck. $1,763 for the head. Plus the cost of having the films examined by a radiologist AND the cost of the return visit to her doctor, so he can give us his take on the radiologists take. Then the cost of any treatment he considers necessary, and any drugs he prescribes, on top of the pile of drugs she needs to keep her mood disorder in check.

She’s not unique:  there are scores of millions of Americans who could match her story, with an even worse one!

A couple of years ago, during a routine visit to my Doctor, he mentioned that I probably had sleep apnea, and it was making things tough on my other health conditions. I told him I was aware of this, as several other doctors had told me, at one time or another, that I had sleep apnea.  He sent me to a sleep clinic to confirm the diagnosis.  I went in, let them wire my bald head up, climbed in bed, and absolutely couldn’t sleep. Eventually, I dozed fitfully for long enough that the technician could confirm, that, yes, I do in fact, have sleep apnea. The charts were clear. A combination of Central and Obstructive sleep apnea, in fact. The next night I came in, absolutely knocked-out with exhaustion, and let them wire me up again, and put a BiPAP mask on my face. Couldn’t sleep. The changed the settings, and I could breathe easier, but couldn’t sleep.

Eventually, they said they’d collected enough data, and I could go home and sleep for the rest of the night.

In a few days I got the bill:  well over $3,000, and the Bi-PAP machine they prescribed was another $1,500.  I spent $3000 to prove I had a condition that I already freaking knew I had and having spent that much to prove  I had the condition I freaking couldn’t afford the treatment for the condition!

A day or two after Christmas that year, one of the sleep lab techs called me and pointed out that I hadn’t bought the machine that was required to treat my apnea. He pointed out that the deductible on my insurance would go up to $1000 on January 1st, and if I could buy the thing now, having already met my deductible, it would only be, hmmm, about $600, as opposed to the $1000 I’d be out of pocket if I waited …

I thanked him for his concern, and told him I couldn’t afford $600 now, or $1000 later, to buy a machine that I was certain I couldn’t sleep with, in any case. “But Sir, this condition can damage the heart over time,” he pointed out.

I replied that, yes, I might have heart troubles later, but I’d likely die of stress trying to pay for the thing, and would certainly die of sleep deprivation if I actually bought it and tried to use it!

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~ by dourscot on September 27, 2012.

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