Health Care

Thursday, 13 August 2009

You can find any num­ber of per­son­al anec­dotes about the health care in America just about any­where in America you go. I’m late to the game, but I’ve got a sto­ry too. It’s not an out­ra­geous out­lier, or an edge case about just how messed up the health care sys­tem is. There’s too much push­ing to­ward ex­trem­ism in what is cur­rent­ly be­ing spun as the health care “de­bate”. That’s why I de­cid­ed to write this.

My Story

I have fan­tas­tic health care. I’ve been us­ing the pub­lic, County-run MetroHealth sys­tem since I moved to Cleveland in 2003. In all of that time, I’ve had noth­ing but ex­cel­lent, com­pas­sion­ate and pro­fes­sion­al care from the staff at this pub­licly run and tax-pay­er fund­ed hos­pi­tal and health­care sys­tem. At my old job, I had Kaiser Permanente as my HMO, and while the care I re­ceived from MetroHealth was noth­ing less than amaz­ing, try­ing to get ac­cess to that care was an ex­er­cise in bu­reac­ro­bat­ics [to port­man­teau a ne­ol­o­gism]. It’s the same sto­ry you’ve heard a thou­sand times, long waits, high co-pays, un­friend­ly staff and poor ac­cess.

Now that I work for the County, my health care needs have nev­er been ful­filled in a swifter or more pain­less man­ner. My health care pro­gram is ad­min­is­tered by MetroHealth, and de­signed specif­i­cal­ly for County em­ploy­ees. I have a ded­i­cat­ed num­ber I can call for ques­tions and ap­point­ments, I’m guar­an­teed an ap­point­ment with­in 3 days, I’ve even seen spe­cial­ists mere hours af­ter hav­ing my GP de­cide I need to see one. I even get to use the MetroHealth pre­scrip­tion counter in­stead of hav­ing to dri­ve a half hour to a Kaiser Permanente ap­proved phar­ma­cy.

If this sounds like a mir­a­cle, you should keep in mind that this is what health care can be like when it is gov­ern­ment-dri­ven and tax-pay­er fund­ed. There is no prof­it mo­tive. The sys­tem is fo­cused on do­ing the best job it can, pro­vid­ing qual­i­ty health care to its cit­i­zens.

Debbie’s Story

For awhile, as de­scribed in the Tough Times post I put up in March, Debbie had no health care.  Not due to any fault of her own, but be­cause her employer’s mal­com­pe­tence re­sult­ed in an en­tire school of teach­ers get­ting laid off. The on­ly af­ford­able pol­i­cy she could get her­self ba­si­cal­ly cov­ered noth­ing, and buy­ing in­to COBRA is a joke for peo­ple who don’t make much in the first place. She end­ed up go­ing to MetroHealth and get­ting rat­ed. Since she made so lit­tle, she on­ly had to pay $5 for her care. And she had her health cared for, through a tax-pay­er fund­ed gov­ern­ment-run health care sys­tem. Her new in­sur­ance doesn’t cov­er cer­tain med­ical prac­tices and pro­ce­dures due to the re­li­gious be­liefs of her em­ploy­er. I make no crit­i­cism of this, since her em­ploy­er is pay­ing for her health in­sur­ance. However, a pub­lic op­tion would at least give her a choice.

A choice to use a tax-pay­er fund­ed, gov­ern­ment-run health care sys­tem, like the amaz­ing one in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals get a lot of de­served press for the work and re­search they do in­to cut­ting edge med­ical pro­ce­dures. MetroHealth de­serves just as much praise for the work they do car­ing for and heal­ing the cit­i­zens of Cuyahoga County.

Addressing the Crazy

Death Panels. Seriously? I have a liv­ing will, and I am com­fort­ed by the fact that it re­quires more than one doc­tor to agree that my chance of re­cov­ery is hope­less be­fore they pull the plug. A pub­lic op­tion will not re­sult in this:

I think the best way to deal with the peo­ple who are vir­u­lent­ly op­posed to a pub­lic op­tion (quite a few of which are mem­bers of my fam­i­ly), and who are turn­ing the pub­lic op­tion idea in­to a dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly ogr­ish fac­sim­i­le of the ac­tu­al law is to:

  • Ask them what their so­lu­tion is. If they have one, get as much de­tail from them as pos­si­ble. Listen to their so­lu­tion and ques­tion the ar­eas you find lack­ing, be they moral, eth­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, po­lit­i­cal, or pro­ce­dur­al. You might not con­vince them, but you might con­vince some­one who is lis­ten­ing, and you’ll be bet­ter able con­vince oth­er peo­ple who might not know their ass from a hole in the ground (they could prob­a­bly see a doc­tor for that con­di­tion if they had a pub­lic op­tion).
  • Go to Reality Check, watch the videos, read the FAQs. When you come across ridicu­lous email for­wards, crazy on­line rants, etc. re­ply with ac­tu­al facts (don’t just link to the site). Nothing hurts The Stupid™ like the 2×4 of Education™.
  • Write any and every Congress-crit­ter, but your own first. Send them your health care life sto­ry and ask them to sup­port the pub­lic op­tion.
  • Use the patent­ed Give The Stupid™ Enough Rope To Hang Itself By Its Own Petard While Reasoned And Calm Adults Educate And Debate Amongst Themselves™ method to give The Stupid™ enough rope to hang it­self by its own petard while rea­soned and calm adults (like the rest of us) ed­u­cate and de­bate amongst them­selves.

If you made it this far, thanks for read­ing.

Up To Two

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Most of what’s been go­ing on in my life and through my mind late­ly hasn’t re­al­ly war­rant­ed a full post, but here are a few things:

Carbon Motors & Connersville

For years I gave my home­town, Connersville, IN noth­ing but scorn. Probably like most teenagers treat their home­town. Now that I’ve a fam­i­ly of my own, and make more reg­u­lar trips back home, I’ve come to see Connertucky in a new light. Robert’s Park (and its har­ness rac­ing track), Spartan Bowl, and the Connersville Country Club in par­tic­u­lar are gems in a coun­ty that is small­er in pop­u­la­tion than the neigh­bor­hood I cur­rent­ly live in. It’s a great town, that just hap­pened to have fall­en on hard­er and hard­er times while I was grow­ing up there. This cul­mi­nat­ed in the clos­ing of a for­mer Ford plant and the lay­offs of 700 – 800 folks; caus­ing the al­ready high un­em­ploy­ment rate to sky­rock­et.

My town is tough though, and filled with a blue col­lar pride in its rich au­to­mo­tive his­to­ry (the in­no­v­a­tive and his­tor­i­cal Cords were as­sem­bled in Connersville). Now the C’ville has fought off the com­pe­ti­tion to re­claim its po­si­tion mak­ing in­no­v­a­tive au­to­mo­biles. Carbon Motors is com­ing to town. This means jobs and re­gained self-re­spect for those folks who were laid off and will now be able to use their ex­per­tise to feed their fam­i­lies once again.

My new­found un­der­stand­ing of Connersville has helped me fur­ther un­der­stand why I like Cleveland so much. As dis­parate as these two places are, the peo­ple have a lot in com­mon.

Compound Fest

Compound Fest is prob­a­bly my fa­vorite event in­volv­ing Cleveland mu­sic folks. It’s all day, every­body shows up, tons of lo­cal bands, and it’s free!



I’ve al­ways thought that am­bi­tion is a neg­a­tive trait. I’ve al­so nev­er con­sid­ered my­self that am­bi­tious. But late­ly I’ve re­al­ized that my de­sire to con­stant­ly im­prove my­self, to con­tin­u­ous­ly learn more and to do the best I can at every­thing is its own form of am­bi­tion. It isn’t di­rect­ed to­ward some­thing ex­ter­nal, like mon­ey or pow­er, which is what I usu­al­ly think of as ambition’s goal. So I guess am­bi­tion is like any oth­er tool, its good­ness or bad­ness is de­ter­mined by how it is used.

Applied Anthropology

When I in­ter­viewed Ward 15 City Councilman Brian Cummins last week for BLACKHEART Cleveland, he was ex­cit­ed to find out that I got my de­gree in an­thro­pol­o­gy. He men­tioned that he could see where I was ap­ply­ing those skills do­ing the weblog thing. I’ve not re­al­ly thought that I’ve been us­ing those stud­ies in dai­ly life, but since then I’ve been try­ing to see if and where else I might be un­know­ing­ly ap­ply­ing an­thro­pol­o­gy.