Health Care Rantings….


I know people have a lot of things they are concerned about in the upcoming elections and I am no exception.  This year the issue of health care has come front a center for me.  I want to share with you why it should be for you as well.

After going through a health crisis like inflammatory breast cancer I realize how fortunate we are to live in the United States.  I just placed a call to the West Michigan Cancer Canter and they confirmed what I was pretty sure I knew.  If you don’t have insurance they will treat you regardless of your ability to pay and they will use whatever means they have available to help cover your cost of care. 

I have also read many articles that confirm that our crisis in the US is not the care we receive as much as it is the cost of care and the cost of insurance. 

With that said I have read a little bit about universal health coverage.  I have read enough to understand if I lived in Canada or Europe I would probably not be getting ready to spend the holiday season with my family.  I read differing opinions….but the bottom line is that if you live in a country with universal health care your wait time can be as much as 22 months for an MRI. 

When I was diagnosed with Inflammatory breast cancer I had a CAT scan at U of M that revealed something questionable in my other breast.  Two days later I had an MRI that revealed a second tumor (MRI’s are one of the most conclusive scans for determining tumors).  Had I not had these scans available to me my other tumor might have gone completely unnoticed until too late. 

Inflammatory breast cancer is also a rare, dangerous kind of breast cancer that spreads very quickly.  It starts in the lymphatic system which means that it is often metastasized before it is found.  6 months is often too late.

What would I have done if I lived in Canada? 

I want to hope that because my situation was urgent I would have gotten care quicker than usual….but when I read about health care in other industrialized nations (the US is the only wealthy industrialized nation without universal health care) I have to wonder.

I recently watched the movie “Living Proof”  about the drug herceptin that saved my life.  You can watch the movie online hereand I’ll just tell you I am the woman “Barb” who had a complete cure.  My tumors were completely gone with herceptin and chemo.  It is a miracle drug for me and thousands of women around the world.

What you need to know is that women in Canada and Europe had to beg and take legel action to get herceptin.  What you also need to know is that many of these women were given only months to live.  Not very long to battle the government to get life-saving medicine.   Here’s one woman’s story.

I’m not trying to scare you, and we certainly know the FDA has its own issues….but having universal health care means more government bureaucracy and more government control deciding what drug you can and can’t have.  Do you want the government deciding you shouldn’t have herceptin when it is the only option you have to save your life?  Here’s a whole article that touches on more concerns with universal health care.  Herceptin is a very expensive drug….and because it was so expensive….France (WHO #1 pick for health care in the world) did not want to approve it.  Not because it didn’t save lives, but because it was too expensive!  How’s that for making sure everybody has health care!  Let’s dumb it down to make sure everybody gets it! 

This should matter to you when you vote because one out of six women will get breast cancer and one out of three people in the US will get cancer.   Your friend, your mother, your child…..maybe even you!

I want to know that if I need good health care quickly I have it available to me…..and for the most part I do.  I want to know that if my child gets cancer or is injured that I will get the scans and the drugs I need to proceed with the very best life-saving treatment possible.  I don’t know of one emergency room in the US that would turn me away if I brought my seriously ill child to them.

It does matter to me that so many people in the US are uninsured.  But the truth is….even if you aren’t insured you will still get treated in the US.  Bankruptcy is always a possibility…..although unlikely with the assistance out there if you’re willing to do paperwork.  Bronson Hospital has paid our bill twice when we had difficulty with our deductible. 

The health care crisis has more to do with cost and insurance than it does with the quality of care.  I like the McCain plan because it addresses the problem of COST and the need for competition, not just a fair playing field.  Mandating a fair playing field when there isn’t a need for one means universal coverage which means slow care and government deciding on our medicine based on cost which will result in inadequate care for everyone. 

Even U of M told me they only financially assist those with NO health coverage at all.  So I was left with a $3,000 bill from my deductible.  Did I like that bill?  No…..but I liked the idea of living a lot more and set up a payment plan.

“Spreading the wealth” sounds really great…..but it might not be as good as it sounds if you look closely.  I for one don’t want the government more involved in my health decisions from what drugs are available to me to vaccinating my children. 

Thanks for letting me air my concerns and happy voting!

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6 thoughts on “Health Care Rantings….

  1. Christa says:

    Well said Jennifer! It looks like you did your homework. I pray that our voices are heard tomorrow.

  2. Carl Wilton says:

    Here’s something else to think about. In our present system, millions of the uninsured are going without adequate medical care (the so-called “safety net” is full of holes; only the lucky few get adequate help through hospital charity care). The system is vastly inefficient, with way-too-high administrative costs (all those drudge workers doctors have to hire to do insurance coding, argue with insurance companies, etc. – all so some obscenely overpaid insurance-company CEOs can get a piece of the action). Would it not be a fair trade-off if people needing MRIs had to wait a while for an appointment, so vast numbers of others could receive a modicum of basic care?

    Why should individual privileges for the few outweigh the basic needs of the many? What would Jesus do?

    Health care in America today is a matter of the haves (as in “have insurance”) against the have-nots. Often, “having not” is a matter of being self-employed, or having been laid off, or having a pre-existing condition.

    It’s time for a change, I think.

    Carl
    “A Pastor’s Cancer Diary”
    http://www.cewilton.blogspot.com

  3. Sarah S. says:

    Very well said Jennifer! Very well said, thank you for this post. I think that not many people look at it this way and do not really understand what universal health care really means. I have a friend who lives in Canada that is having health issues and they are so slow and they will not do some of the testing that she needs. It is a scary thing!

  4. Denise in Ontario says:

    I live in Ontario and I have been taken care of thanks to the Canadian Universal Health Care System.

    I am self-employed along with my husband. We do not pay for any health care plans though we do, of course, pay through taxes, but that doesn’t mean that if you are on welfare you don’t get the benefit of health care. Everyone in Canada, and Britain, has free healthcare. No matter how poor you may be.

    I visited my GP last November 12. I started chemo the first week in December and had six months of it followed by surgery and radiation. I would also have access to Herceptin had it been of any use to me. I’m triple negative. I had every MRI, bone scan, Pet Scan – you name it, all within a matter of a week following my initial visit to my GP.

    I don’t know where you get your information from, but our health care system up here is doing great.

    I read a book by a well-known tv doctor up here in Ontario. I called her Surgeon and saw him within 6 weeks of my call. He performed my surgery.

    I really have no complaints.

    The health care system down in America is shameful towards the unentitled. Thank God I live in Canada.

  5. Hello, and bless you for your blog. I have been quietly following for several months as I have a friend battling IBC.

    I also don’t know where your Canada information came from. I agree that we don’t have a “care” problem, we do have an expense problem.

    I have friends in Canada and relatives in Europe who think our country’s health care system is ridiculous and shameful for placing millions of people into backruptcy every year. They envy us for everything, except, you guessed it: our health care system. Sure, I can call my local hospital and they’ll tell me they will treat people with no insurance and no money, it’s the law where I live. BUT……they’ll hound you forever until that bill is paid, and if you die, they’ll go after your family. I know this from personal experience.

    McCain’s plan was very vague and based on a tax credit for people purchasing insurance on their own. OK, have you priced insurance on your own lately? Wouldn’t keeping track of this be producing another bureaucracy? He even mentioned a figure on TV, assuming that insurance costs around $600.00 per month. HUH? My COBRA coverage right now would be around $2000.00 per month and I am a member of a huge group plan. Can you even get the insurance? If you can’t afford it, how is a tax credit going to help? People with low incomes don’t even pay income taxes. Sure universal health care would make another bureaucracy. What are HMO’s? A third party bureaucracy with people on the phone making your health care decisions.

    “That one,” the president elect, had a pretty well outlined plan, and it did NOT involve the government to any large degree. He never mentioned a tax increase for me, but I would actually be willing to pay a little more to get the health care system straightened out and to get everyone insured.

    I’m sorry to get on my soapbox, but at least I got it out ; ) Politics, especially with this election brought out the passion in people, didn’t it?

    Bless you again for your blog and your writing talent!

  6. Denise in Ontario says:

    yaah Kathy. Well said. I have NO healthcare bills after being babied by the system for a year.

    If I have a problem that I can’t get to my GP with immediately, I walk into my local emergency department, show my healthcard, and get service right away.

    I don’t have to fill out any forms, apply to any insurance companies, get involved in any bureacracy. I live in Canada. Eveyone is treated equally with Universal Healthcare. Its a beautiful thing.

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