Substantive, Angry Post About Health Insurance
Well, now that Regina and I have been denied insurance from California Blue Cross--she because of a benign breast cyst that she had in 1985 and me because I have the gall to want to continue my antidepressant prescription--perhaps we can open a "health savings account." President Bush only devoted one paragraph of his State Of The Union speech last night to that diabolical piece of Newspeak. The speech in general was Bush's usual revolting mixture of unfettered corporate toadyism and Flaming Sword Of Jesus claptrap, dusted with little shavings of unjustified imperial hubris. What an asshole. Still, the health savings accounts stuff really got to me. As I said earlier in this pompous paragraph, I don't have health insurance anymore.
Or at least I won't soon. We somehow persuaded our old insurance to give us an extra month while they checked to see if they could somehow transfer our old policy. This seems somewhat obvious, because both companies are Blue Cross affiliates. Health insurance membership transfers should be as easy to get as a Costco card, or at least no more difficult than a driver's license.
If bureaucracy were our health-care system's only problem, I wouldn't have this pervading sense of dread. The Bush Administration is simply a milksop for the insurance and HMO industries. Let me give you a preview of how these savings plans will operate:
Working class and middle class Americans, not all, but many, will be persuaded by government propaganda that it's somehow smart to ditch their reliable, employer-based health insurance plans in favor of a savings account they can "control." This will give them "personal responsibility" over potential life-and-death situations, which is, of course, exactly what everyone wants. Then we'll start saving money, assuming there's anything left over once we're done paying off our insanely exorbitant credit-card interest-rate bills, which really got jacked up by government fiat on January 1. But let's assume we save. And then someone gets sick. Let's say I get sick.
Let's go all out. Let's say that I get testicular cancer. It will then be my responsibility to "negotiate" fees with HMOs, while I'm facing a life-threatening disease. I have no knowledge of how much medical treatment is going to cost, and I won't be going to a kindly country doctor, because they don't really exist anymore. The health-care system is going to ream me for everything I've got, and I'll be forced to put my bills on my credit card, which I'll never be able to pay off, and then I'll go into bankruptcy, which is no picnic anymore since the new bankruptcy law that took effect on Jan. 1.
Basically, we're fucked six ways to Sunday. If these savings accounts are going to take flight, then it will be the final death blow to an already aggrieved American middle class.
Do you think I exaggerate? Well, at least my son has health insurance. That's right. Elijah got medical and dental, for the sum of $79 a month. So at least it's relatively inexpensive to insure children.
Well, not according to the latest House budget cuts passed today. Let me quote from the UPI story: "The bill trims an estimated $6.9 billion for the Medicaid health program for the poor by giving states more flexibility to pare back benefits and charge higher co-payments for services. It also cuts some government payments for prescription drugs..."
The key phrase is "charge higher copayments." That spells out Bush's health-care policy, and, in many ways, all his domestic policies. My family is lucky. We're middle-class enough so that a Medicare cut isn't going to screw us directly. But Bush and his health-care industry cronies are not just gunning for the poor. The squeeze is on, people, and "health savings accounts" are leading the way.