I, like hundreds of thousands of people last night, tuned into the Presidential Debate. Even though I have already decided who I will vote for, I wanted to hear what they both had to say. What their vision for our fine country is. Their hope for tomorrow. And I was sorely disappointed by both.
It is all the same. And then more there of. And they all talk around in circles and dance around their opinions. The only thing missing is a strobe light and techno music. As I listened to their ideas on how to change the health care system, I realized that neither one of them really understands the ins and outs of its problems. They both discussed streamlining records and having them all transferred to digital files. I mean, that sounds great and all, but wouldn't that equate to higher charges for us?? Who will pay for the transfer? The individual hospitals and doctor's offices? Oh, or will the government subsidize the cost? Let's face it; our government already operates in the negative. So I feel certain that we, the tax payers, will ultimately pay for those changes to be made whether the government aids or the health providers directly pass that cost along to us in the form of higher fees. So who is that helping exactly? I guess it would prevent some mistakes form being made, but ultimately it will raise costs and not help average Americans save money or afford insurance.
I don't feel like either candidate knows what it feels like to pay for your own insurance and then be hit with high copays and out-of-network charges. Take for instance David's hospitalization last September. I first took him to our local emergency room around 4:00 am because his breathing had become labored and I felt I had no other option. It was either four miles up the road or thirty miles to Children's Hospital. Obviously, I picked the quickest choice. When they triaged him, his blood oxygen level was down to 86%. He was in distress. They immediately started the breathing treatments and took an x-ray to check for pneumonia. But they wouldn't treat him. Our hospital does not have a pediatric unit, something I was completely unaware of at the time. He would have to be transported to Children's by ambulance because he was dependent on oxygen. What I didn't know then was that a 25 minute ambulance ride would cost me $600 because the ambulatory service was out-of-network. Excuse me, what??!?? I didn't realize you should stop the ambulance driver and ask him if they are in your network. And then what would you do? Open the yellow pages and look for one that is? I don't get it.
To me, the answer in health care lies in the little details like I explained above. Our family pays $700 a month for good health insurance. And then one hospitalization cost me and additional $1000 between an ambulance ride and hospital copays. I think if our government truly wanted to help its people it would regulate the fees and copays charged for necessary services. Put a cap on things. Hold the health insurance companies to standards and regulations. Make them compete more with one another in a way that benefits us, not them. If there were more affordable private options out there, people wouldn't feel so helpless and violated. Because that's just how you feel when you open up those little statements that tell you what you owe - completely helpless because you know that you won't get anyone on the phone that cares about you or what you are going through, and violated because you have already given these people a large amount of money month after month after month yet they expect you to keep paying more and more and more.
When the candidates were talking about health care, I just got angry. Neither one of them are normal people. Maybe they were at one time, but it doesn't take long for you to forget. There they stand, perfectly pancaked and fresh for the cameras in suits that cost more than I spend on food for an entire month. Smiling. Good grief... has anyone seen Joe Biden's teeth? He is too tan and his teeth are entirely too white. I cannot trust a man who has a better tan and whiter teeth than me. Something isn't right there. And poor John McCain probably couldn't load music into an Ipod to save his life. And Barack... don't even get me started. I know these are the things that really shouldn't matter. But they do to me. Because I just don't feel represented in my own government. I don't guess I ever will. I don't even identify with Sarah Palin, and she would be the closest match to me I have ever seen. But why in the world would she want to step into this mess and expose her family to this lifestyle? She has a little baby and a daughter with a baby on the way. What is she thinking?
The gist of all this is that I don't like any of them. I don't think either one will change the world or make things better or achieve world peace. But I have to vote for the one who answered one question the same way I did. The great Tom Brokaw proposed the following question to both candidates: "Do you consider health insurance a privilege, right, or responsibility?" My husband and I looked at each other and answered immediately without hesitation. And then I was able to tell him how both candidates would answer. And I think however you answer that question pretty much determines who you should vote for because it truly represents the two parties well. In a nutshell.
And for the record, I must say responsibility, my friends. Responsibility.