Saturday, October 27, 2007

Because Our System Is So-oo-oo Much Better Than Socialized Medicine

Don't let the art deco exterior fool you.
Photo description:the artwork above a doorway at the old Charity Hospital in New Orleans

I am a big believer in socialized healthcare. Yeah, I know, how unpatriotic of me! So sue me! I've had people make the stupid "In Canada, you have to wait months just to get an appointment to see a doctor" argument to me and I fairly chewed their head off. Months? That's all? Try being uninsured in this country. Your "wait" will last as long as it takes you to cough up the money for treatment, at the very least. So, anyone who has a problem with socialized medicine is welcome to bring on the arguments against it here. I will eat your lunch.

As The Tumor Turns is written by a fellow New Orleanian (Lymphopo) living with cancer. Her tumor, though a different type from my "unicorn with stripes and wings" variety, was also located in her chest. But you know what? I can barely stand to visit her blog. I mean, I avoid it like the plague. Do you know why? It's because I can't bear to hear what she's going through.

I'm privileged. I have healthcare coverage. I've had it for several years now. Lymphopo does not. So, while I am able to go to whatever hospital I need in order to get prompt treatment, she has to wait months just to have a basic mammogram at the local public (i.e. free) hospital. I go to see my doctors and if they want me to be seen by another doc or have some kind of test done, as long as it's fairly early in the day, all they have to do is make a single phone call and the hospital will have that other department squeeze me in that day so that I don't have to make a second trip.

At the public hospital, even if she has had all of her tests done by the time her next doctor's appointment is scheduled, if for some reason the test results aren't back or have been misplaced (something that happens with frightening frequency), she can sit there for the hours it takes to go through the check-in procedure only to be told that there isn't anything they can do about it except reschedule her appointment--for another few months later. I know. I've been a patient there.

My thrifty mother used to take us there as kids because it was cheaper than going to the private hospital every time we had a cough or cold. The pediatric department wasn't THAT bad, not nearly as bad as the emergency room triage that adults had to use if they needed to see a doctor. If you're an adult, you literally have to be dying to skip the hour's long wait. I have, with my own eyes, seen people sitting in the waiting room bleeding profusely and still be subjected to the six-eight hour average wait for treatment.

As a college student, I didn't bother with health insurance either. I didn't need to. My university had a doctor's office located within it and our tuition gave us free access to it. They couldn't do x-rays or mammograms but they did have arrangements with a local private hospital to provide those sorts of services to us as a reduced cost and the reports or scans would be sent back to the school's doctor's office so we didn't have to pay to see the private hospital doctor in order to get the test results. Pretty sweet deal, wasn't it?!

At the beginning of my cancer journey I had to use the public hospital but because of my college coverage, I was able to walk in with copies of my scans and records which meant that I didn't have to go through as many hoops as are usually required in cases where the person is just walking in from off the streets seeking help. What I saw during those months was heart-breaking. There isn't time enough for me to describe it all.

Getting back to the point, this is the system that Lymphopo is still forced to use to get treatment for her cancer. Pre-Katrina radiation therapy was administered in the basement of one of the hospital buildings. It was a dark and depressing place. Thankfully, I only had to visit it once. By then I had coverage and I was able to make the choice to go somewhere else for radiation. Lymphopo didn't have these options.

Until this sort of disparity ends, I have no desire write off the possibility that socialized healthcare may very well be better than what we have here.


Lisa Harney said...

I'm sorry my past few posts haven't been as articulate as they should've been, btw.

I can't stand the arguments against tax-funded health care, no matter the model. The people opposed to it cherry-pick their arguments, blow certain aspects out of proportion, and hold forth with a special kind of blind selfishness that ties directly into ableist attitudes:

When Mr. Republican Anti-Health Care Man says "I don't want to pay for someone else's health care," never really acknowledges how easily that can become "Someone else might end up paying for my health care as well."

That argument is tied up in something else: It's somehow okay to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to send our men and women to another country to kill and be killed, but it is somehow wrong to spend a fraction of that to ensure that American citizens live healthy lives.

This also falls into the reprehensible and anti-human attitude that health care is a luxury, and not a necessity like food, water, or shelter.

I've spent most of my life with either no insurance, or on state-funded programs. I've once had a job that provided health insurance.

I have no respect and no time for anyone who selfishly believes that their money is too important to pay for anyone else's health care, and too shortsighted to realize that it only takes one diagnosis to remove them from the shelter of the health care they already enjoy.

Penny L. Richards said...

"I have no respect and no time for anyone who selfishly believes that their money is too important to pay for anyone else's health care, and too shortsighted to realize that it only takes one diagnosis to remove them from the shelter of the health care they already enjoy."

Not only that, but the two are completely entwined: My health status depends on my neighbor's health, and her kids' health, and her co-workers' health, the grocery clerk's health, etc. Nobody lives in an epidemiological bubble.

Daisy Deadhead said...

Yeah and maybe then we'd get some medical weed, like in Canada. Seriously, it's the cheapest and safest pain reliever and anti-spasmodic available. It would be great for your appetite, Bint, prepared in a nice Bhang Lassi chai tea. (I make it fabulous, with cream, butter, vanilla, cinnamon.)

When the government has to foot the bill, suddenly they are looking for the CHEAPEST options, not the most expensive! Funny how that works!

And of course, we see who would lose $ and who would fight this initiative.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I have to say that this is a wonderful blog from what I've read thus far -- Being an INFJ, I know a good blog when I see one. :)

I'm Canadian, and what caught my attention was that rumour about us having to wait months to see a doctor - that's absolute nonsense. If I have a problem or concern arise, even a relatively innocuous one... I could be in to see my doctor probably that very same day. At the very worst, I might have to wait a day. And, naturally, it's absolutely free. It's incredibly unfortunate that you don't have that sort of universal health care in the States.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to email me at

Are you a Baha'i, as well? :)

Best Wishes,