Saturday, March 27, 2010

Victor on American Health Care

Dennis Hopper is dying of prostate cancer. He weighs 100 pounds. He
made his first movie in 1955 and worked for the next 50 years.

According to reports, his lawyer says he makes $58,000 a year from
residuals and his treatments are taking all of it. He is a pauper
living in a Hollywood mansion.

His story underlines some of what was wrong with the US health care
system and why legislation was needed. But not in the way it is being
sold through the media by the Democrats.

Much of the media coverage depicts the new legislation as aiding the
economically oppressed, those on welfare. Not so. The poor, without
incomes were fine. Medicaid covered them. That's why if you visit LA
or Chicago for a weekend you are not stepping over the decomposing
bodies of human trash who shoot eachother every Saturday night. None
have an insurance plan. None have a job. All are treated.

Same goes for the aged. All are covered by free health care and the
American public pension plan is far,far richer than Canada's.

The real problem was with people like Mr. Hopper. Although he worked
as an actor for 50 years, it was never really a job. So he had no
health care plan. And he probably never thought of it until cancer
struck, at which time he was over 60 and no insurance company would
touch him. And since he had an income, albeit a trifle of his big
earnings days, he didn't qualify as poor. So, as Charles Dickens might
have said, if he made $58,000 a year but his care cost more than that,
he was still considered solvent. Insane.

Similarly, a 62 year old American, working at a factory, who had a
good health plan, and lost his job also lost his health care. And
because he was 62, no insurance company would touch him and he didn't
qualify as poor until his severance ran out and he spent all his

So this had nothing to do with the non-working poor. They were already
covered. It is not going to address the black-white-hispanic divide.
It will hopefully address the situation of people who, through no
fault of their own, lose their benefits after a life of earning a

It will also force the gormless young to buy health insurance if they
get a job. And that's overdue. I once sat in a bagel shop in San
Jose , in 2004, where there was a sign in the window offering
employment for a server at $7 an hour plus medical benefits. I asked
the owner how he could provide health care for a $7 an hour worker. He
replied, " Well, I'll be hiring a healthy 20 year-old and they cost
bugger all for health care. I can cover them for peanuts and they
won't buy it themselves".

About 25 per cent of those uncovered by health care in the USA fall
into that category.

There is a little bit Dennis Hopper in all of us. We go through life
ignoring two immutable facts. (1) We will get old. (2) We will lose
many options as a result of (1).

I am not an Obama fan and loathe his oratorical excesses. But
something had to be done. No matter how imperfect. It is said that the
state can't be expected to protect us from our stupidity. Well, since
stupidity is the most widely shared human trait, maybe that is the
state's job. When great civilizations built walled cities in ancient
times, they would compel the blissfully ignorant peasants who were
farming outside the walls, to come inside the walls in times of crisis.

Stupidity was not a death sentence then. It shouldn't be today.


Anonymous said...

Very well stated David.


Evil Eye said...

I think I related this before but I will restate it.

A friend of mines relative, living in the USA, had a catastrophic illness, which bankrupted them and stole their children's money earmarked for university.

What is left of the family (the relative with the illness passed away) reside in a fleabag apartment, living day to day on meager state welfare and family handouts. It is a disaster story, with reams of misery to last a lifetime.

They ha have no phone but a cell phone provided by a relative and they still have collection agencies hounding them!

And the Republican Party wishes this kind of scenario continues?

Evil is as evil does!

Anonymous said...

Thanks David. I'm one of the many Americans who welcome this change. While it won't be perfect it will help those struggling to stay afloat today.

I have Medicaid because I'm out of work and have a teenage son. We are covered well already, but when I re-enter the workforce, I'll gladly pay for some reasonable health care coverage.

Anonymous said...

The American system of healthcare may be tested to its limits.
To put it mildly they are screwed. They are so far in debt that the only way out will be to cut programs not expand them.The people will see tax increases that will stagger our imaginations.People that still have a job that covers their health care will be few and far between. So a law will mandate compulsory enrollment in a health care scheme. GOOD LUCK.
The fine for non compliance is about $700.
The cost to buy the plan for a family of 4 . About $1200 per month. The only hope for

our neighbours to the South is a miracle. Being as that likely wont happen I sure hope that people in Tehran have heaqlth care. The best political diversion from the fact that the banksters have all but bankrupted the free world is another war.

Look out Iran