Monday, August 17, 2009

My Take on Health Care

As the health care/insurance debate rages on it is hard to know which way is up and which "side" is winning. Government and politics are so frustrating and the more reading I do to become more knowledgeable, the more confused I am. If any changes are made to our current health care system, we are in for a long, drawn out process which will most likely lead to a watered down plan that doesn't change our nation's health care issues one bit. I have a lot of scattered opinions on this subject. Why don't I share...

The other day I had an experience that got me thinking our current state. Preventative care is not stressed and/or valued enough in our nations health care. Maybe that's due to the fact that there is a lot of money to be made on sick people, more money than if these sick people had the option of preventing their illness in the first place.

Through my job I have the option of putting some of my monthly salary into a "flex" account. This account can be used for medical expenses like co pays, prescriptions, glasses, over the counter medication, etc. The nice thing about this account is that the money is taken out of my paycheck before it is taxed. So it is a benefit in that I am getting more for this money as part of it is not being taken away from me before I get it. Since the new school year has just started, the year end on the flex account is quickly approaching. The one catch with this account is that any money you don't use by the year end date is lost. I haven't been told where it goes, but it doesn't get pushed into the next year and it doesn't get sent back to me in a check. When I first signed up for this account a few years back, that fact bothered me a lot. But over time I realized that if the deadline was getting close and I still had money in the account I could quickly spend it on over the counter meds like aspirin and cold medication. I have never needed to spend this way before because I have always used the amount in the account. This past year I put a bit more into the account than previous years since in previous years I have run out of money a few months before the year end. I thought this additional amount would even me out over the year and, as it is tax free, would be more beneficial to me. However, at my year end I have about $150 left in the account.

Off to Target I went this weekend to stock up on the year's cold medicine (NyQuil, DayQuil) and big bottles of Tylenol and Excedrin. I also added some bottles of my multivitamins to the cart. All of the medication went through without any problems, but the vitamins were not allowed through. Apparently I am not allowed to use this flex account on vitamins - vitamins that will hopefully limit my need for all the chemical-driven cold medicine that I need. I still bought them, with my regularly taxed money, but I think this very small experience says a lot about our country's views on this issue. I think it also says a lot about why the drug and insurance companies don't want government getting involved in health care. If we are well, they don't make money.

A few year's back I had a conversation with a friend of mine who has contacts in the movie industry. Apparently the industry's insurance is very good. Something that struck me as funny (not haha) was that the insurance didn't cover birth control for its insured females, but it did cover Viagra for its insured males. (I guess that's a little funny haha, and pretty ironic).

I, luckily, am not one of the many Americans who don't have health care. My school district provides me with health insurance and foots the bill for all of it (for now anyway). I could say it was good insurance as, with a slightly higher copay, I can choose to go to any doctor (including specialists) that I want. I won't say it's good insurance because about 2 years ago my regular doctors stopped accepting my insurance because they got tired of dealing with the insurance company.

Politically, I swim in the left on most issues, but occasionally dip my feet into the right side of the pool. I truly believe however that health care is not a liberal/conservative issue. It's a life/death issue. Politicians need to get the politics out of health care and do something to fix this system. It is clearly not working for a lot of people (republican and democrat).


  1. True stuff. I just don't know how anyone is going to be able to solve this one. It is such a complicated mess.

  2. I thought Cheri's comment said, "I like your bottom."

  3. While it's true that it's complicated and hard to solve, it would be a helluva lot easier if there weren't so many lies and scare tactics being used. Why can't both sides simply be rational and seriously talk about policy, instead of making up stupid talking points?

  4. Um....that was a rhetorical comment. I don't mean YOU guys are doing that.

  5. Well said. Very well said. I am trying to look at both sides too. And it confuses me.

  6. I'll admit, I'm a partisan in this. Having lived in Germany where I received incredible healthcare, I've long been an advocate for universal, single-payer health insurance. And as a life-long entrepreneur (via my wife) the current system is crushing small business.

    That said, you are spot on PD. Although I'd like to be able to only blame one side for the politics and distortion, I have to admit both sides are making it impossible to have a reasonable debate. They are trying to force us to make this important decision based on emotional slogans rather than fact.

    There are many of our political leaders who DO have their hearts in the right place, however, and are trying their best to be reasonable, but they're being drown out. I don't know who represents you PD, but I think Harry Waxman (he's from somewhere in SoCal) is one of the good guys.

    This is too important to let the blowhards confuse us.

    I like your bottom line too -- and I've only seen your cartoon bottom. =)

  7. I am with Jason on this one.. I think the problem has become so big that any solution will be a carp shoot!

  8. I think a country as wealthy and advanced as ours SHOULD have health care for all its citizens. However, pushing through some mammoth bill, which is doubtful that our congressmen/women have even read, much less understand, is certainly not the way to go about it. We need to take our time and get this done RIGHT.

    Working in the insurance industry (albeit not the healthcare side of the industry), this is a HUGE, HUGE deal, and we really don't want to screw it up.

    I'm all for everyone having equal access.... I just want to make sure it's done WELL. I think we've all seen instances where the government takes over something and it's done sooo incredibly poorly.... we just can't afford for that to happen here. It would be catastrophic.

    I wish there were a simple answer, but unfortunately there's not.

  9. CRAZY in your example about Viagra being covered, but birth control not being covered. In what universe does THAT make sense???!

    ("Sure, we'll give you these little blue pills that will make you horny... go out and have sex with WHOEVER YOU WANT.... but if she gets knocked up, well, she's ON HER OWN...!!")


  10. I wish there was an easy solution to this healthcare issue. I have great insurance through Los Angeles Fireman's Relief, and one of my fears is will they, and other employers who have several thousand members, opt for the cheaper gov. insurance plan? We won't have a say in their decision to switch us over.

    I was also told that health savings accounts will be eliminated.

    I say, offer health insurance vouchers to the uninsured. It's cheaper than the current mess they are advocating.

    Ok, now I have other inportant stuff, like who wins HOH on Big Brother! :))

  11. I agree!! It's the same message I've ben trying to put out thee in countless online and real life discussions. I have no idea if the proposed plan is a good one or not. I am blessed that I have excellent benefits at work. I am blessed that my husband has excellent benefits at work. So this is less about my family... and way more about all of those who are uninsured, can't afford to be insured, don't have an option to be public program insured.

  12. The time has come. Our current system is broken beyond repair. I'd love to see sweeping change, but that doesn't seem to be on the horizon.