by William Skink
About a month ago my 5 year old felt like crap. He woke up and was just wiped out. His brother recently had mono, so we assumed that was probably his issue as well, so we took him to Now Care at St. Pats to get a blood test.
When the doctor examined him there was some tenderness in his abdomen which concerned the doctor, and because they couldn’t do any imaging at the doctor’s office, she sent us to the ER. At this point I’m not a consumer of a health care service, I’m a parent predisposed to worrying, so of course I’m going to listen to the doctor and do what she says.
My kid never got that blood test, which is why we brought him in to begin with. Instead we spent over 4 hours in the ER to get an inconclusive ultrasound. We just got the bill for that visit: $1,400 dollars. And how much did our health insurance cover? About $200.
We pay over $700 dollars for health insurance every month for my wife and kids. I haven’t been added to the plan yet after leaving my employment, so I’m sure it will be nearly $1,000 when all is said and done. Then there’s the $6,000 dollar deductible that EACH member has to hit before the fucking parasites in the health insurance industry pay out. And when something happens that requires an ER visit only a small portion is covered.
I was thinking about this experience yesterday while listening to Home Ground on MPR. The episode was about the out-of-control cost of health care and the efforts to bring transparency to pricing. The two people the host, Brian Kahn, interviewed seemed cautiously optimistic that our system can be fixed. I’m not so sure.
Luckily my family can absorb this bill better than nearly half of Americans who say they couldn’t come up with $400 hundred dollars to cover an unexpected expenditure:
Since 2013, the federal reserve board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars!
So whatever happened to the affordable care act being, you know, affordable? What happened to the promises of cost-control? Is health care just another casualty of political corruption?
The short answer to that last question is absolutely, and it’s the parasites of finance who are responsible.
At Counterpunch today another interview with my favorite economist, Michael Hudson, just reiterates what those of us paying attention already know. The problem with the American health care system isn’t actually seen as a problem by the financial assailants because it’s just one facet of a larger economic war being waged by the rentier class against the rest of us. From the link:
HUDSON: We have an actively erroneous view, not just a lack of understanding. This is not by accident. When you have an error repeated year after year after year, decade after decade after decade, it’s not really insanity doing the same thing thinking it’ll be different. It’s sanity. It’s doing the same thing thinking the result will be the same again and again and again. The result will indeed be austerity programs, making budget deficits even worse, driving governments further into debt, further into reliance on the IMF. So then the IMF turns them to the knuckle breakers of the World Bank and says, “Oh, now you have to pay your debts by privatization”. It’s the success. The successful error of monetarism is to force countries to have such self-defeating policies that they end up having to privatize their natural resources, their public domain, their public enterprises, their communications and transportation, like you’re seeing in Greece’s selloffs. So when you find an error that is repeated, it’s deliberate. It’s not insane. It’s part of the program, not a bug.
LONG: Where does this lead us? What’s the roadmap ahead of us here?
HUDSON: A thousand years ago, if you were a marauding gang and you wanted to take over a country’s land and its natural resources and public sector, you’d have to invade it with military troops. Now you use finance to take over countries. So it leads us into a realm where everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that’s all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Basically, financiers – the 1% – are going to pry away the public domain from the government. Pry away and privatize the public enterprises, land, natural resources, so that bondholders and privatizers get all of the revenue for themselves. It’s all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99%.
Americans have been asleep at the wheel as this economic assault targeted the third world, but slowly there is an awakening happening as these methods are being increasingly turned toward the developed world.
It it too late? Elect Hillary Clinton, and the answer is probably yes. But convince Bernie to run as a Green Party candidate, and maybe there’s a chance to send a message to the rentier parasites that they won’t achieve total control of our lives without a fight.