Thursday, January 29, 2009

U Suck Healthnet

After one too many glasses of wine I slalomed the traffic pile-ons on my street (it was my stepmother’s idea). Unfortunately the chair slows down on sharp curves so I wasn’t terribly impressive. It reminded me of something Nurse Bob told me (in case you’re wondering, we love Nurse Bob) about how wheelchair drivers can be charged with DUIs. Think about that. When you get a DUI, the authorities revoke your license to drive. My license to drive a wheelchair is ALS, which technically the cops would have to revoke. Someone needs to give Nurse Bob a grant and while you’re up, pour me another drink.

The cure for ALS will probably seem that easy. All the years of research will soon be forgotten and parents will say to their kids “ you have to understand that back then, it was a death sentence” like I did with my son as we watched Philadelphia on DVD, trying to explain to him the AIDS research strides. Yes, the cure for ALS will seem easy and will most likely pre-date the cure for the American healthcare system.

Obama told a moving story during his presidential campaign about watching his mother on her deathbed, fighting with insurance companies and how it compels him to want to reform our broken system. Doesn’t seem that hard, does it, to move to a model of care that every other industrialized nation uses? I think it will be next to impossible. I won’t bore you with statistics you probably already know, I’ll just share a bit of my experience.

Healthnet, I’m sad to say, has been my “health insurance” carrier (cough, cough) for 16 lamentable years. It is a for profit company that puts roadblocks up for care that they state in writing that they cover. They have rejected my claims for prescriptions, for specialists and drowned me in red tape over breathing machines and a frickin’ wheelchair!!! My health care advocate (who I have thanks to Kris) has 2 appeals out against their rulings and they are out of compliance by not even bothering to respond. Now their nefarious deeds are to be expected, they are after all, an insurance company, but what about the gatekeepers at the doctors’ offices who refuse to pick up the phone and make a call or two to help someone in need, who are rude and act like I got ALS just to annoy them, who cannot be melted even when I explain I have a debilitating fatal illness ( yes, I’m talking to you Julie from Dr. Gjeltema’s office, may you thank the gods everyday that I don’t have that flamethrower wheelchair or you would be Bitch Flambe ). Whose side are these people on???

That’s why I hold out little hope for American healthcare. It’s not just the insurance companies – it’s the system – all of it. Let’s call the Forbes Norris Clinic the standard deviation from the mean – they are compassionate, human, competent, helpful and fun. With them as a notable exception, I have to say that both Australia and Canada have VASTLY superior healthcare systems ( and my German nurse complained about how bad healthcare was in Oz – I told him “never work or get sick in the US.”) For a mere $2000 Australian I had 3 days in the hospital, xrays, ekgs, numerous blood tests and excellent care. Here’s an amazing concept: when you hit the nurse’s button in Australia….someone comes right away! That should seem normal shouldn’t it?

We are numb to how wrong this system is. We are Patty Hearst suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. We have been served a giant turd and all we can say is “this chocolate tastes a bit stale.” We all live one major illness away from knowing just how hard American healthcare sucks.

So write a letter to Obama and tell him to make this right – for the memory of his mother and for all the dying mothers out there who really don’t need this shit.


Anonymous said...

Love to you...

Suggestion...Michael Moore may still have some clout against the health care system. Write him a letter or call. If you need help contacting him let this anonymous person know. I think I can get the contact info.


Anonymous said...

Dear Carla; I so agree with you on that terrible American Health system. The problem is the people who have a good health system and I have a sister-in-law who does due to her husband's work, has it so good she can't see how others suffer and really doesn't care. Then there are my cousins who pay to the hilt for their hospital visits but are so afraid of the thought of paying into a system that will help others who can't pay. They just can't get that into their heads. It's called SOCIALISM - my God, and that is bad. My sister married an American and she ended up raising four kids alone, she worked but at the low end of the scale and the hardships she had to endure when one kid or the other had to visit a doctor or hospital was just terrible. So things like dentists just never came into the picture. But change your country now - I won't be holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

hi Carla:

You could not be more spot on (as usual). We went through Cigna when my Mom was battling ALS and they are just as horrible.

Let me know if you want us to go silly string or otherwise deface your dr.'s office where they are giving you shit. Fuck them.

Megan Lynch said...

Man, I'm sorry to hear you're going through that. You'd think ALS would be a cut & dried enough diagnosis for those jerks. But it's not just about proving things. Insurance is gambling and insurance companies play with loaded dice and marked cards.

What a weird synchronicity, though. On Thursday I got a call saying my disability insurance policy (my only form of income) is cancelled.

My dad is flying up here to help me because I'm not very capable of helping myself.

Anyway, weird coincidence. If you have any references for a healthcare advocate, I sure could use one.

I hope you vanquish those Healthnet bastards soon. And if they still screw 'round with you, I hope you leave a trail of Bastard & Bitch Flambé in your wake.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty disgusting and shameful. I just hope Obama lives up to his pledge to do something. The great American dream of democratic capitalism has proven to be donkey shit smeared on the red, white and blue. Hail socialism...for all its ills, when I got pneumonia in London a few years ago, I got help, not dirty looks. And it wasn't even my own country. Hang your head, America. And wake up...the I got mine, so who the fuck cares about you days are OVER. J

Laurie said...

I too have wrestled w/ the health care system. I think a lot of the problem is the Alta Bates Medical Group HMO which operates the network in the East Bay. I've learned some very sobering lesson's about the system and how it drives some Drs to behave based on profit rather than the best interest of their patients. They are running a business to sell the services that they provide - if someone can provide it better there's no incentive to refer you to them. Anyway, I have good coverage but the HMO system is particularly bad in the East Bay in no small part to the Alta Bates Medical Group. Anyway, this is too long. If the US could even give access to the medical coverage they provide to federal employees that would be a huge step in the right direction. anyway, fight on.

Anonymous said...

I hate these long breaks from posting. :( I hope it means you are out having fun.