HEALTH/OPINION/POLITICS

HEALTH CARE IN BLACK & WHITE

The better part of my last few days have been spent with my left knee elevated, lying on my back, and trying to be remotely productive while “tweakin’” off a pain medication that could probably knock out one of those Budweiser Clydesdales. Drifting in an out of consciousness between sessions of icing my surgically repaired knee and waiting for the medication to kick in, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder all sorts of random things; like who came up with that peculiar design for that fire sprinkler, why the alphabet is in that particular order (the song?), or why is it that I waited so long to switch from HMO to PPO health coverage.

Had I still been insured by that same HMO I’d still be taking direction from some doctor who would be advising me to put some Ben Gay on the spot of the injury and basically avoid the activity until…um, forever! He’d tell me to soak in Epsom salt or hand me a neoprene sleeve designed to do who knows what and maybe assign me to some group physical therapy session where some silver citizens are being introduced to light activities after having broken a hip or something in the shuffle board championships at the country club. Not being nearly an expert in anything but very general medicine, this physician would play gatekeeper to me getting any real advice for as long as possible. In order to get anywhere, I’d practically have to make like Denzel Washington’s “John Q” and force somebody to give me some adequate medical attention. This got me channeling Ellene Miles as I was thinking: shouldn’t I get my money’s worth for a benefit that is payed directly out of my paycheck every other week?

My current employer does not offer an HMO plan, so after procrastinating for years and never actually investigating any other healthcare options I found myself with the frightening notion of not knowing where to go in the event that I needed any medical attention. Despite all of the feedback I’d received from friends lauding the superiority of PPO service, I had been too lazy to do anything about it and as a result would have to suffer through the monotonous and less than helpful medical advice that actually was starting to cause me to develop an attitude of not going to the “Dr.” with any regularity. The other night I found myself watching TV at 3:45am because my meds had worn off and the pain was making it impossible for me to go back to sleep.

Flipping through to CNN, I appropriately stumbled upon a discussion on one of the big ticket issues of this year’s election: healthcare. The pros and cons of McCain’s and Obama’s respective plans were spelled out in a sort of “straw-man” fashion. It was then that it occurred to me how each might affect me.

For instance, under McCain’s plan, employer’s would no longer offer health insurance as a benefit. His idea is that by offering people a $5,000 tax credit and the option to seek out their own health insurance, the prices will come down due to competition among the insurance companies. That sounds fine and dandy except that in most American households where every waking moment is spent sitting in 3 hours of traffic each day, working, taking the kids to school/practice/music lessons, doing homework, cooking dinner, getting them ready for bed and then collapsing into your bed just so that you can be rested enough to do it all again tomorrow, this probably won’t happen. I’m definitely an example of this, not having found the time to look into a PPO at all during my 12 years of working life. It also suggests that the average consumer would have the wherewithal to choose a plan that would adequately cover their needs, assuming they actually found the time to comparison shop.

I’m sure we would find many instances where somebody was led to a situation in which they had not purchased the right kind of coverage (just like Katrina victims and flood insurance) and then got stung by this at the most inopportune time, when they actually had a medical crisis. This would probably work about as well toward improving the healthcare system as the government’s granting school vouchers to be spent at private schools has helped to improve the quality of education at inner city public schools.

Another item that struck me was that under McCain’s plan, folks with pre-existing conditions would be left out in the cold. This is in sharp contrast to Obama’s plan in which no American can be refused due to a pre-existing condition. It got me to thinking about the last time I had to renew healthcare coverage and my HMO denied coverage for my then 7-year old son whose weight was off the chart due to some lame body mass index that also calls my 6’7” and 225 pounds overweight. The problem was that my son was so far ahead off the age group charts for height and weight that they couldn’t classify him, and thus labeled this a pre-existing condition. It’s as if some paper-pushing suit was in an office with their DENY stamp at the ready, looking and wondering how a 7 year old could possibly be that size, never stopping to discover that he could if his daddy were 6’7” and his mama were 6’2”. Luckily, my son’s Doctor vouched for this very fact in writing and coverage was restored. Ironically, McCain himself would be excluded from health coverage under his own system, since insurance companies wouldn’t be likely to touch his melanoma with a 10-foot pole. I guess being a member of the wealthy class, caused him to overlook this because he’s clearly got the money to pay for his own care, unlike the huddled masses.

There are many more fine points to each of their plans on their respective websites. Don’t just take my word for it, do your research. Be informed voters this election.

Destah Owens is a single father of two from Northern California and proud UCLA Bruin who travels the world for his job as a computer engineer. His blog, “Soufflés in Saigon,” is exclusive to Urban Thought Collective.


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Comments

September 15th, 2008 at 11:33 pm RedRazor says:

The preexisting condition thing is huge man. I’ve had some experience with that with a family membre and its real deep. They refuse people who are the sickest under this loophole. It should be illegal.

September 16th, 2008 at 12:07 am SaraSmiles says:

McCain’s plan is the epitome of what rich people think everyday people need and thus, it is totally and completely out of touch.

September 16th, 2008 at 12:16 am MissReina says:

Consider this: America spends twice as much on health care as any other nation but according to Rand, we get the right treatment only 55% of the time. Plus, we rank 18th on life expectancy and have the second highest newborn death rate in the industrialized world.

September 16th, 2008 at 12:18 am MissReina says:

Our attention on this matter is crucila as it affects not only our bodies but our economy in many complex ways. Everything is entangled. Healthcare and energy, healthcare and defense even. This is one thing I applaud Hilary for. She has been about Healthcare from teh get 12 years ago.

September 16th, 2008 at 12:54 am SweetSis says:

I work at a hospital and still got screwed, if it wasn’t for COBRA about 3 years ago I’da been in big trouble. Thanks for breaking down the plans in an easy to read way.

September 16th, 2008 at 1:18 am renep says:

great point about mccain’s melanoma preventing him from getting care under his own plan. ain’t that about nothin’

September 16th, 2008 at 7:03 am Mr.Fantastic says:

I think McCAIN needs a better help plan himself..LOL..he doesn’t have that long bruh!

September 16th, 2008 at 8:38 am nicq says:

We need to address this issue now Obama get on it!

September 16th, 2008 at 8:56 am Destah Owens says:

consider also that McCain’s plan calls for credit, not money up front. When you take into account that a typical plan can run around $15k, there is a definite disconnect. I know that I would be quite unlikely to drop $15k that I don’t have and then wait around for a $5k reimbursement. Like alot of folks that “think” they are healthy, I might be inclined to take my chances.

September 16th, 2008 at 9:26 am thelma says:

Crucial info and I can only pray the whole campaign gets back to ISSUES and not all this nonsense. Its all a distraction from the fact that regardless of their party, the candidates offer something completely differnt. Nothing will change unless we decide enough is enough

September 16th, 2008 at 9:56 am stephanie says:

Great point you are making on McCain and his health care stance. The man doesn’t even have a plan that would work for him why would he care to put in a plan that would work for the rest of us?

September 16th, 2008 at 9:58 am bossy says:

right on man seriously I don’t know how people are making it these days

September 16th, 2008 at 10:17 am culturepop says:

What happened to the knee bro?
Being down for the count is not fun at all but I have a feeling you have some lovely ladies at your beck and call!

The healthcare tip is one of the most important of our time and the fact that McCain himself wouldn’t even qualify tells a lot about him. I miss Edwards in that at least he was talking about “The two america’s” not that whole platform seems to be out the window but it is so very important

September 16th, 2008 at 11:09 am Marcuz says:

thank god for health care and those that don’t have it i pray

September 16th, 2008 at 12:00 pm lilmamma86 says:

Im reLLY NOT DOWN for McCain’s plan OKAY LOL!!!!!!!!

September 16th, 2008 at 1:59 pm belly says:

why can’t they talk about this instead of some lipstick crap its out of hand we need to know this

September 16th, 2008 at 3:17 pm heatmizer says:

WORD!!!
This is a big giant elephant in the room

September 16th, 2008 at 3:22 pm Lottie Markus says:

mccain been rich since he was born he don’t know anything about struggle not even to get into school, the military, nothing. there were 600 other POW’s with him in Vietnam. Are they also qualified to run for office?

September 16th, 2008 at 3:28 pm BLACK MARKET says:

They ought to be ashamed although there is no easy answer at least try to help everyone McCain!

September 16th, 2008 at 3:41 pm Tina says:

The health care thing is all a mystery to me. I think they make it hard to understand on purpose. I just go to my regular checkups and hope that nothing more serious happens because who know what would be covered.

September 16th, 2008 at 4:42 pm Destah Owens says:

@culturepop: just didn’t take care of the little injuries until they became more serious ones. Too much bball, that’s all. Arthroscopic turned into microfracture surgery, fractured patella, bone chips floating around…but it won’t keep me down forever!

@Tina: that’s what they want us to do. If they create enough confusion, then they never have to provide coverage when we REALLY need it. I know it’s alot, but just try to stay informed so that you and yours won’t become some tragic, cautionary tale.

September 16th, 2008 at 6:12 pm Tony Price says:

Destah
just wanted to stop by to say Thanks for the post to my article, your perspective is greatly appreciated and YOU GET IT! we have to change the mentality especially of the young brothers to not have a poverty and welfare mentality while on these college campuses.

Peace

Tony

September 16th, 2008 at 8:19 pm Joselyn Tanarive says:

Thank you for this. It all makes a lot of sense. Someone should do a ‘Policies for Dummies’ guide that breaks down all the political mumbo jumbo like this.

September 16th, 2008 at 9:47 pm Elsa Harkins says:

Wow ya’ll are taaaaaaall!

September 17th, 2008 at 7:01 pm culturepop says:

oh ok… you are young this is a good time to get it handled I’m glad you took care of this. Tall AND hobbling ain’t too good of a look ha ha

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