I have had the honor and horror of watching both ends of the health care spectrum over the last couple of weeks. My grandmother, who is 86, has spent 17 of the last 22 days in the hospital. The first go around was because her lung collapsed from an injection given in the wrong place. The end result of that stay was a new prescription of coumadin, a blood thinner, to keep her from having a stroke from the collapsed lung. The second and current reason is that after a few days of coumadin she started feeling extremely sick and dizzy, the hospital did a few tests and found a blood clot on her brain. She had fallen a few weeks ago, she was fine after the fall but apparently she suffered a pretty bad bruising that normally would have healed on it’s own, but which the blood thinner had since made
it worse because it made injury bleed a little more.
She is doing fine by the way.. or as fine as an 86 year old, end stage renal failure, 3 days a week dialysis patient with a recently re-inflated lung and a blood clot on her brain would be expected to be doing. This isn’t about her as much as it’s about the specrum of health care in this country.
My grandmother has spend most of her time in the hospital in the brand new section called the “The Heart Center“. They offer more of a personal and intensive medical service, not too mention all the comfort of a 4-star hotel. The ‘suite’ she is in really is better than most hotels I’ve stayed at. I’m not complaining about her treatment or her room or any of the other services she has been fortunate to receive. In fact just the opposite. I have been completely impressed with this new section of the hospital. When they decided to call the rooms ‘suites’ they didn’t exaggerate. The rooms are the size of a normal 2 patient room, but they are private with hardwood floors,wood wainscoting and cabinetry. There is a personal desk that has all the ‘technological’ necessities such as an internet port,cell phone charger hook up, iPod/mp3 port, there is even a personal fan and temperature control. Finally a medium size plasma-screen tv and DVD player for each room.
For visitors the suite offers recliners, extremely comfortable chairs and a couch that makes into a bed. Oh, did I mention the view of the river?
Yes, the “Heart Center” is a top of the line stay for anyone who is lucky enough to get sick and admitted to it and I am glad that her stay has been as comfortable as it has.
I don’t know much about insurances, but I know that she has
“Tri-care for life” add that in with their medicare and both of my grandparents haven’t a care in the world when it comes to health care and I am thankful for this. They are of the ‘Greatest Generation‘ who were asked by their country to sacrifice and serve and they stepped up and happily did their duty. They deserve to be cared for in the older years.
But compare my grandmother’s care to that of her house cleaner’s. I know there is a stigma attached to the ‘house cleaners’ as somehow being beneath us in some way, but I think that’s because we’ve never really thought about them. I want you to take a minute and do just that. If you have a house cleaner she probably spends 2-4 hrs at your house every 1-2 weeks doing the things for you that you don’t want to do. You pay her to vacuum,dust,pick up the living room and not only do you pay her $20-25 a hour to do your job for you, but you are not her only client. If she spends 4 hrs at your house she still has enough time, to do another 4 hours house and at $25 an hour.. well she just made $200 that day to do something a simple as cleaning your kitchen. No, I don’t believe house cleaners are beneath us, I believe they are smarter than any of us give them credit for. They wear whatever they want to work,they are their own boss working their own hours, telling people which product to buy them so they can use. They work in comfortable climates and pretty much have the run of your home while they are there, watching tv and listening to your radio as they go. A good one, with an established clientele and the time to work a 10-12hr day can make as much as $1500 a week for their uneducated labor. Yes, we are beneath them in them grand scheme of things.
My grandmothers house cleaner was a family friend who started her business very late in life. She had been married and was never required to work or pay her own bills but one day her husband decided to take off and live with his new girlfriend and Dot was left with nothing to turn to, so she did the only thing she knew… she cleaned houses. She was just starting to get back on her feet again when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was a devastating diagnosis because there is no recovery and the outlook is a fast and painful death. That wasn’t the problem though. She had no money to stop working and she had no insurance to cover her. She was building up to all of these creature comforts and just hadn’t had the time to get there yet, another year maybe and she would have attained some of what the rest of us take for granted. But that still wasn’t her problem, her problem was that she wasn’t going to die fast enough.
Because her type of work depends on her actually working, she couldn’t take days off, because while she was diagnosed to die within the next 6-9 months, she still needed to pay her mortgage, utilities,food, car payments, gas and then if anything was left after that, her prescriptions and other medical costs. Her doctor of course tried to get her into the public health systemts but unfortunately she made too much money to qualify and if she were to reduce her income she wouldn’t be able to survive. Her doctor, knowing that she had nothing, spent hours calling around to various hosiptals in and out of the state to see if he could find anyone to give their time to her for free so that she could be treated in some way or helped in some way to die in whatever peace she could.
He couldn’t find anyone out there willing to help.
Dot didn’t let any of this phase her, it was what it was and that’s all there was to it. She did finally find another house cleaner to take on her work and split the pay with her. The house cleaner she found had to drop many of her full-paying clients in order to take on Dot’s clients for 1/2 the price she was getting on her own, but even at 1/2 the price she could survive and she knew that at that point Dot didn’t have much time left anyway so she wouldn’t working at the reduced rate for long.
After buying her own pain medication and paying to keep her electric on, Dot didn’t really have much money left over. She was approved for hospice towards the end but that was of littel comfort since she only lived 5 days in their care. Through it all Dot never cried about the pain she was living through or the predicament she was in. She was proud of what she had accomplished after her husband left her without a penny and all the monthly bills. She didn’t cry that she had been forced from the home she had shared with her husband because she could no longer afford it, she was proud of the 2 bedroom cottage she fixed up with the money she made from her job. She had started from nothing, lost everything and had built up a pretty decent life-style all on her own when most people at that time of their lives are starting to wind down and think of the vacations they will take when they retire in the next few years. No, Dot never asked “why me” or “who will help me”.. And Sherry, the cleaner Dot got to work for her, never complained when she had to trade in her car for a cheaper one or when she had to put off paying for her own daughters wedding. Sherry sacrificed her time and lively hood, her daughter’s wedding and many other things when she didn’t have to but it was just the ‘human’ thing to do. I sometimes wonder if the doctors who told Dot’s physican that they just didn’t have the time to take on a non-paying patient or couldn’t afford to write off her care.. how would they feel if they heard that a relative stranger and lowly house-keeper stepped up and offered her sacrifice and service when they wouldn’t.
There is a class-warfare going on in this country right now and it ‘s called “Health care”. I am more grateful than I can express at the coverage my grandparents receive. I know that if they hadn’t had the great insurance that they have, they would have been dead a long time ago. But at the same time, I can’t help but ask.. why couldn’t Dot have had just a part of that golden coverage? Throughout time there has always been the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and there is nothing wrong with that. For it takes the ‘have-nots’ to spur on new innovations and creativity. It’s when you do without that you find out exactly what you are missing and you find a way to get it. Our country couldn’t have become the power it is had everybody been given everything equally. What do I want to ‘keep up with the Jones’ for if they are going to get what I have given to them? Why do I want to work 80 hrs a week if Slacker-Billy is going to get a steak dinner and comfortable roof over his head for working a 3rd of the hours. Why do I have to go to school and study, then incur thousands of dollars of debt, when 1.0 GPA Sam is going to get the same things I am. I understand the tenants and the benefits of Free-Market Capitilism and I agree those who promote this type of lively-hood.
What I don’t understand is… why does health care have to be one of those things that only the rich and insured are entitled to. Why is the health of someone a pawn in the Political and Pundit game of ‘Capitalism V. Socialism’. It’s a person’s health. Not their education, status,wealth.. it’s their health, their vision, hearing.. their life.
Is there anyone out there that can explain to me why the ones who could have afforded to help Dot, ignored her plight and the one who couldn’t afford it sacrificed and helped a dying woman who did nothing wrong except be unable to afford a platinum health care policy? Or instead.. explain why we are forced to have platinum policies in the 1st place. We are not talking about giving a Rolex out for Christmas to every peon worker-bee we employ.. we’re talking about giving them doctor visit when they have a cold, giving them a shot when they are in pain, giving them a test to see what the blood in the toilet is from..or what the newly discovered lump on a breast is.. Who cares how we pay for it, seriously..who fucking cares! We pay for the research of fruit flies sexual reproduction, we pay for prisoners and death row inmates to have better health care than 75% of our population, we pay for roads,bridges,statues, humanitarian aid to other countries.. Forget the money for once, if we were attacked tomorrow we would pay for the latest and greatest defense system.. Forget the money for once..
There is a ‘let them eat cake’ philosophy on people’s health. .. On their health! Why?
Someone… anyone… Please tell me why a dollar… your dollar.. is worth more than a persons life? Because they didn’t work for it and you did? Because if they received the same benefit as you, well then you will just quit your job, give up everything else you have and live off the government tit? Would you really just decide to up and quit everything and go from Prince to Pauper just because everyone has health care?
Why are we bartering in human life? Instead of asking me how to pay for it, how about you tell me what I have to give up to help those around me. We’ve been asked to sacrifice and serve this country before and many people stood up when asked, so tell us what we need to sacrifice now to save a human life.. Because I am done bartering with the souls of the people around me.. You tell me what a life costs and what I have to give up to save it and we’ll go from there.
What is the point of having these elite medical centers that could compete with a 4-start hotel, if most of the people living in this country can’t afford to use them?
Why have we let someone’s ability to be treated when they are sick, become the latest status symbol of elitism?
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- Health Care War: How America Sees It (oliverwillis.com)