Sicko

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In light of the healthcare waves of panic spreading across the country at the moment, I thought I’d settle myself down and watch a little informative documentary called Sicko. Remote control in one hand, my $85 Rx of Yaz in the other, I sat on the couch ready to be wowed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am one of “those” without health insurance. No, I don’t live in a trailer and no I’m not on welfare, but I was laid off, and even with the “generous” COBRA reform that our President passed, I am still unable to make the $285 monthly payments to ensure that I am covered. Shocking yes, but true. Even people with normal means of income and sustainable living cannot afford to be covered. So I glide in and out of each day on a wing and prayer, hoping that I don’t get sick.

Now, let’s dive in:

The premise of the  movie is not focusing on the uninsured in America, but rather the insured. Wha…..you say? Let me continue….

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For those of you who don’t know, the mega-insurance companies that reign in tyranny over this country must be obliterated, destroyed, bombed into nonexistence. They are where evil begins and ends. I have a profound hatred for these entities, because their mission is NOT to help you get better or stay in good health, but rather to prevent you from costing them money. And that means denying you coverage, even for life saving treatment.

Let’s examine the process:

1. You pay a monthly premium to be “insured”
2. You get sick – you go to the doctor – you pay a co-pay IN ADDITION TO  your monthly premiums
(please also note that you may only go to a doctor in network, otherwise you won’t be covered. hmmm – they are telling you which doctor you have to go to? sounds an awful lot like what people are screaming about concerning the reformed system about to take place…)
3. The doctor prescribes a medication, but if it will cost your insurance company too much money in order to provide that for you, the Rx will be denied.

Don't touch!

Don't touch!

Wait! You’re saying I can’t get the medication the doctor prescribed for me, because the insurance company says so? How do they know anything about my condition, and what the doctor thinks I need?

Well young squire, they don’t. All they see are the dollar signs and thus act accordingly. And since you have signed over your soul to them, you are their puppet.

I have spent much of my time working for a very well known and prestigious psychiatrist in Houston. And I was exposed to the inner workings of those insurance companies daily.

A patient comes in for treatment: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts….serious mental disturbances here people. The doctor knows what he is doing. He is the doctor after all. He prescribes a medication that will alleviate the suffering. The patient drops off the prescription, then we get a call that the insurance company will not authorize it. Ah, of course not. It’s too expensive! Symptoms be damned, our CEO’s need a new private jet!

So I call.

Insurance agent: “Has the patient tried a generic?” (because it’s cheaper)
me: “Yes, and the generics don’t work. He needs the name brand of this specific medication.”
Insurance agent: “Well, what is the reason that he needs this one?”
me: “Because the doctor prescribed it.” (I really shouldn’t have to say more than that.)
Insurance agent: “Well, I’m going to fax over an authorization sheet. You will need to fill it out, have the doctor sign it, and fax it back.”

me: filling out, signing, faxing

….3 days later….the Rx is approved and the patient can get their pills, AFTER paying the co-pay of course.

But sometimes, it won’t get approved. We are at their mercy.

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Sicko touches on this subject and other disturbing processes that they follow.

One particularly horrific practice Moore exposes is that the medical doctor on staff with the highest number of denials is awarded a bonus. So, their incentives for more money is to deny people healthcare? This level of corruption is pure and unregulated. And these doctors are so far removed from the impact of their decisions that they will never see a need to change.

Fast forward to London, where the doctors there are awarded bonuses based upon the level of improvement in their patients. So, the doctor who gets the most patients to quit smoking, or lower their cholesterol or blood pressure – THOSE doctors get the bonus. Well, that’s odd. An incentive for doctors to improve the health of their patients? Just keep that nonsense on the other side of the pond, thankyouverymuch. I’m not comfortable with that system.

Michael Moore is famously one-sided and thus this film is completely biased. I like to consider myself an informed consumer, and therefore was a bit disheartened that he did not cover both sides fairly. How else am I supposed to make a rational decision? While he portrays the NHS in Europe (and the UK) to be all fairies, butterflies, and 20 minute waiting times, I know that is not the case. Both systems are flawed, and we need to choose the lesser of the two evils. Which one do I want? I still don’t know. Yet I tend to think this complaint: “I had to wait 2 hours to see the doctor!” is far far better than this one: “I can’t go to the hospital, I have no health insurance.”

One a lasting note, I was horribly disappointed to not discover a way to Cuba.

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Homeland Security always seems to be interfering with my plans. And to be honest, I’m getting pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty irritated. (Larry David shout out!)

My quest continues. I will find a way to Cuba, and before all the Americans are allowed and turn the country to capitalist rubbish.

Until we meet again, stay healthy y’all

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5 Responses to Sicko

  1. Shanyé West says:

    Erin-
    Shanyé here. Ironically, I watched it too this weekend. My emotions ranged from anger, to being appauled, to utter sadness for the tragic stories of loss (because of greed running rampant in the insurance companies so that they can maintain a high stock price by screwing over individuals)… and finally a sense of hope that we could possibly have a better system soon.

    As you know, my mom had her stroke 10 years ago. That is not the fault of the insurance company, being overworked and overstressed as a single mom was the culprit. Thank heavens she did have insurance, because they took care of her for the first few months. Unfortunately CIGNA started to realize how much she was costing them. That was their reason, but the evil letter said it a little more politically correct: “thou doth not benefiteth from the high level of care that we are providing you…” Of course she wasn’t! She was recovering from a major hemorrhagic stroke, severals weeks of being in a coma, having to relearn how to speak, understand, computer, move, etc. So then we liquidated her 401k so that we could afford COBRA, and then when we couldn’t afford that anymore, she got dumped into the nursing home (thanks to Medicaid) at the ripe young age of 50, and was left there by the system to rot. It pisses me off that she paid her premiums and worked her tail off for years and then now look at her… pennyless and playing bingo with 90 year olds, and trying to make sense of their drug-induced babble. It’s just not fair.

    One great point that I think that all Americans need to understand is that Health Care should not be tied to one’s employer. Being unhappy at one’s job but staying because they can’t move due a pre-existing condition, can only aggravate a bad situation and bring about stress-related illnesses… like hypertension (which causes strokes).

    PS-
    Kudos to you for posting an entry like that when your setting is a red state… I’ll call it communist red, just to prove that I too can sling around names.

  2. Emily (The Cuz) says:

    This too outraged me. I just cannot believe we as Americans have put up with this crap for so freaking long. It’s time to change. It’s time that everyone have access to healthcare.

  3. erinparker75 says:

    Another similar story: I went to the dentist for the first time in 2 years in April 2008 (was without insurance before then, so couldn’t go). Turned out my bottom right molar needed a crown due to the metal fillings in my teeth. Why is that? Because years ago, they discovered that metal fillings were destroying the teeth by the constant expanding and contracting they were doing due to temperature changes in the mouth. Not to mention that they contain high levels of mercury, which you may have heard of. A deadly poison. In my mouth. Permanently. So they subsequently switched over to the white colored mercury-free filling paste they use now.
    So, the dentist put something in my teeth years ago that would damage it, and now I have to pay for that mistake? Get this: WITH insurance, ONE CROWN carries a $900 price tag. WITH INSURANCE! I had to decline. I was working full-time with a great income and still couldn’t fathom placing $5,400 on the table (I have six mercury fillings) in order to pull those suckers out. So in the meantime, I’ll just keep walking around with this poison mouth, and chewing on the left side of my jaw.

  4. Leah says:

    Cuando vamos a visitar Cuba, mi amiga? Y por que todavia no tenemos un plan? Que triste!

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