Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Personal View on Health Care Reform

For today’s post I have joined a movement of elders, organized by blogger extraordinaire, Ronni Bennett, to explain why health care reform is so necessary. Every discussion of health care reform should begin with a recitation of the facts: the growing number of uninsured, the fact that we spend 16% of GDP on health care compared to 7-9% in Canada and Europe yet have inferior results, the fact that the reform plans being discussed are middle-of-the-road compromises between people who want single-payer and people who want the status quo. This week came word the public option might be dropped. This is dreadful news, capitulation to the powerful insurance companies and evidence their scare tactics may have worked.

Last week I wrote the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, after learning the end-of-life clause in the health care reform bill was in trouble: “I am distressed that the Senate Finance Committee has thought of scrapping the end-of-life clause from the health care reform bill. This measure is an excellent initiative and anyone who believes Sarah Palin's description of ‘death panels’ is a nitwit. For once we have a sensible, intelligent president who is leading our country towards necessary health care reform. Apparently the clause in question would enable doctors to spend more time on the important topic of end of life. Getting older folks to think about end of life is sensible, not scary or dangerous. I am 62 and my husband is 71. I welcome the option to discuss end of life every five years if I so desire. Please do not be intimidated!! Maintain this end of life clause!”

When my husband Sven and I moved here from Europe, we benefited from free health care. In France I felt confident about doctors, medicine, pharmacy personnel, hospital care. If I had continued to live in Paris, I would have had free care for the rest of my life. Instead, in 1997, I left Europe for Cape Cod and assumed responsibility for my parents, so they would not have to go into nursing homes. They received great medical care from physicians at Outer Cape Health, above. My father had worked for the government, and their Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal policy even reimbursed all meds until the year 2000 when fine print kicked in, creating a co-payment for the meds, but not the medical care! I was able to observe their last years and months – a precious experience, which gave me a new perspective on end of life – and came to appreciate hospice, totally paid by Medicare, which allowed my mother to remain in her own home until her peaceful death at 97.

Upon arriving in the USA, I had taken out a health care policy as a freelance writer. It cost $250/month for the two of us. That rate has gone up at least $100 every year since then. I believe the escalating cost of health care needs to be stopped. I would prefer a single-payer system, like in France, but President Obama obviously did not feel it would get through Congress. His health care reform proposal with public option is the next best thing. We desperately need health care reform in this country. Yesterday the President created a Web site to set the record straight. Please pass this information on to family and friends.