Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Health reform column

So we have some kind of health insurance reform.

I should be excited, since I have not had health insurance for so long I can’t even recall when I last had it. It makes me sad, because I am 50 years old -- that certain age when TV doctors and real ones all say you should get the works done on the plumbing and every other part of the machine.

What I do recall is when I last had health insurance I was working for UPS in New York, where I tore some cartilage in my knee while exiting the truck on an icy day. Because I was not yet a permanent employee, only a seasonal helper, I was not covered. Four months later I was hired for a permanent position, but having my knee throbbing constantly made work difficult to say the least. The only light at the end of that painful tunnel was the fact that when I reached my six month mark at UPS my health insurance coverage would kick in and I could get my knee fixed. I limped, walked, and hopped through six months of sheer hell (working at UPS is probably more physical than most people’s workout regimen) and in November I was able to have the necessary surgery to fix the knee. Blue Cross gave the go-ahead and I was as good as new soon after.

A month later, the surgeon’s office informed me they had not yet been paid and the insurance company had reviewed my case and denied the claim on the basis of a pre-existing condition. And they wanted me to pay to the tune of six grand.

That’s my health insurance horror story. It’s minor, but it is certainly illustrative of the past, and current situation in this country full of people who deserve better.

Now we have health insurance reform and stories like mine and others will hopefully stop being told.

It’s a lousy plan: Not health care reform at all but more a regulating of the insurance giants whose job was always to get by not paying claims if they could. This plan will immediately give them about 30 million new customers, so they should stop crying and acting like they are having their teeth pulled out. It is a start.

Right-wingers scream that their grandchildren will be paying for it, but in the long run it seems the plan will save money, not cost more.

Watching C-Span’s coverage of the debates leading up to the vote was educational, especially in the House of Representatives, where the suits were arguing like kids in a sandbox fighting over a shovel. Some had great points, but others, from both sides, seemed clueless about even the most general facts and were just spouting party propaganda. It’s depressing that these boobs are who we elected to represent us.

On the other hand, the fact that the entire plan was so massive and complex shows that someone, and we have to give President Obama credit for this, cares enough to put such a huge effort into getting this done for our citizens. I want to thank them for at least taking the first step to making sure all of us are on equal footing when it comes to that most basic and personal issue: Health and well-being.

Now, what is this I hear about immigration reform?

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