Thursday, February 18, 2010

Progress, or nothing like it...

I am a proud American.

I mean, technically I'm not - since I'm not an American and don't have citizenship yet - but when it comes to my attitude to life, the American mentality fits me like a glove.

Take unemployment, for example. Uncle Sam owes me months of plump unemployment cheques and I'm not interested in accepting a single one of them.

I want to work. I've had that attitude ever since I first entered the job pool. In my life, I've spent precisely two weeks on 'the dole' and soon traded my $40 a week of unemployment payments for $38 a week spent tending bar in the roughest club in Cornwall.

I'd rather work than not, even if I don't get any extra money for it.

In America, the system ostensibly rewards you for that attitude. I have the option of claiming months of unemployment cheques, but instead I made a couple of phone calls and founds myself a job two weeks after getting fired earning just a little bit more.

In the land of opportunity, there's always a dollar to be earned if you're willing to get out and shovel for it (or, in my case, write a shitload of marketing copy.)

But this is where the 'American dream' loses its luster and you suddenly see the advantage of the so-called 'socialist' European system.

In Europe, thanks to universal health care coverage, you could happily leap into temporary work assignments and support yourself and your family well into the indefinite future.

In America? Not so much...

Because while I can earn the same dollar amount working a temporary writing assignment, such gigs don't cover health insurance. Instead, I'm forced to rely on the federal system, COBRA, or try and find such 'benefits' privately. They are, for want of a better term, extortionate.

COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, gives workers up to twelve months of their former health insurance after being laid off. However, they have to pay the entire whack, rather than what their employer previously covered. For me, that turns a $120 monthly payment into an $800 one.

Likewise, the cheapest health insurance package available for my family in New Jersey was $650 a month and covered the bare minimum, with huge out-of-pocket percentages.

It's not until you're 'out there' trying to find health care coverage for yourself and your family that you realize quite how broken the American system is.

What I find so frustrating is that the right wing and the idiot 'tea partiers' are arguing that there's nothing wrong with the current health care system - but that's because they're blinkered dolts who all have health care provided for them by their mundane day jobs. Throw them into the same situation as I'm in right now and hopefully they'd realize that the health insurance companies of America are bleeding them dry in a shameless act of extortion.

But, sadly, few of these idiots are presented with reality very often and that's why they keep peddling their poorly informed right-wing rubbish.

These idiots are supposed to be all about what makes America great - which is independence and opportunity. Instead, they're backing a system that perpetuates a generation of health care slavery - with people forced to work underpaid, under-appreciated jobs merely for the benefits they offer.

I propose something truly radical - a country in which affordable health care was available for all, regardless of whether or not it was bought through your employer. I'd quite happily never take a full time job again - and earn a lot more money and generate a heck of a lot more income for the economy doing so - if I knew I could guarantee health coverage for my family independently.

Unfortunately, that's fantasy. While the left wing talk about 'government sponsored' health care, the right wing are perpetuating a system that's nearly as tyrannical - one in which corporations possess the same monopoly that the 'tea partiers' are worried the government might one day have.

Ultimately, they're as dogmatic as the most left-wing Democrats and I'm left realizing that the true spirit of American independence - individualism, personal responsibility and opportunity - is something far beyond their comprehension.


Andy said...

Yo Roland...just curious here. Why are you scared shitless that some incredible health disaster will befall you, or your family.

I have raised 4 sons (still have one 13 year old at home), and we have NEVER had Medical insurance (well, at least not in the last 20 years).

Amazingly, neither me, my wife, or four sons EVER required much medical care. In 20 years, I have paid for every single doctor visit...a couple of broken bones from the boys...and one pregnancy/#4 son out of pocket.

I think it probably all added up to about $12,000...over 20 years...6 people. If I had been on some insurance plan, this would have not even come close to hitting the peak of my deductible, or copay.

I'm not including dental work, or the two boys that needed braces for their teeth...or one RK procedure for #3 son...that stuff is just "the right thing to do."

Insurance companies are some of the most profitable outfits in the US because people are scared to death that they MIGHT get a hangnail.

Okay...that's not fair. People are afraid of a $250,000 bill if they (or one of their family) are afflicted with something serious.

I know it's probably just me...but, if I ever gave some insurance company $800 each and every month...I think I'd have my own head examined.

One of the great burdens on business is that $800 they pay for their trembling employee every month.

Hell, I'd split the difference with 'em. Gimme $400 extra, and drop the charade that I'm actually covered.

So, why are you so scared that some medical disaster will hit your family? Just curious.

ck said...

Sigh. You offend me with this post. You rant about 'gingerism', yet you go to a sexually deragatory term to describe me? Makes me think very unpleasant thoughts about you... really unpleasant.

What I find so frustrating is that the right wing and the idiot 'tea baggers' are arguing that there's nothing wrong with the current health care system - but that's because they're blinkered dolts who all have health care provided for them by their mundane day jobs. Throw them into the same situation as I'm in right now and hopefully they'd realize that the health insurance companies of America are bleeding them dry in a shameless act of extortion.

This is where you are wrong. I have changed job 3 times over the past 4 years and have had periods of 2 to 3 months each change with no health insurance. However, this is a frame of mind.. I don't think my neighbor should have to pay for my families well being. Nor do I think I should have to pay for theirs. Now, with my neighbor I wouldn't mind it so much because I know they aren't abusing the system if they were on the government dollar. It would purely be a helping hand and not a hand out. However, what we have in our country and more so in yours is cradle to grave welfare. THAT is wrong.

The answer is not a socialized system of medicine. The answer is health care reform, let insurance companies easily sell across state borders. Limit the profit insurance companies can make. Limit lawsuits. DO NOT limit pre-existing medical conditions, that is insane!! So I don't need to get insurance until I get cancer... yeah, that's fair.

I like Andy have not had any major medical issues with my family. No lets be real, it would have cost me $4000 to $6000 some years... but do the math, I (and my employers) have certainly paid more in then we've gotten from the system.

But again, you offended me with this post.

One Salient Oversight said...

Great post. "Socialized Medicine" is just not a danger. The universal health care systems enjoyed by other Western nations are far superior to the free market based system of America.

(And yes I know the US government spends money on Medicare. But there is plenty of private health insurance in nations with free universal health care too).

And the thing is... these nations would revolt before any elected government took universal health care away. The people of these nations DEMAND universal health care funded by taxes.

And I'm happy here in Australia to pay my Medicare Levy. It's great that my taxes have gone to support the community and I feel great knowing that the community is willing to support me and my family if anything befalls us medically.

Yes there's such a thing as personal responsibility. But there's also a such a thing as community responsibility. the two are not mutually exclusive.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi CK,

Didn't mean to offend you - I honestly didn't give any thought to the 'tea bag' comment and actually had to google why you'd find it offensive! I changed it.

I'm not even arguing for socialized health care; just affordable coverage. I would happily pay $400 out of pocket to cover my family but in New Jersey that's just not an option.

I'm not much of one for dogma; I don't care if it's a nationalized system or a private one. I just want one that works and is affordable.

ck said...

//I just want one that works and is affordable.

One ran but the government would be neither.

Many of the 'problems' with the current system can be directly tied back to the government stepping in.

Susanne said...

I'm one of those right wingers, but I've never claimed the system isn't broken. I agree that costs are out of control. I just don't think that more government is the answer. I don't think the insurance companies have the answer either.

By the way, we pay for our own health insurance every month so not all right wingers are fine with the current health care situation because they are under some employer-sponsored plan. I guess technically we are since my husband employs himself, but you get the idea.

I've not seen the gov't do a great job managing the money they've taken from us. Why would I put them in charge of our health care? They've not proven themselves responsible, but wasteful. Of course this reflects the average American I suppose -- can't live within their means because they have to have stuff, stuff and more stuff no matter how far in debt they go.

Coffee Bean said...

Oh Roland...

For this right winger it is about not wanting a government run healthcare system.

There are major problems and we need REFORM.

Insurance premiums are ridiculous. I'm sorry to hear you are having to deal with those issues.

Really, it is hardest on those that follow the "rules." There are all sorts of programs for those that do not have insurance and there is the fact that many hospitals cannot turn anyone away.