My one and only post on the subject ever

I am not a particularly political person (besides that one time my boss ran for mayor and I was his technology campaign manager – Hi Mayor Allyn!) so I try to stay out of the angry online discussions. I try even harder to stay out of angry IN PERSON discussions, because never in the history of the world has yelling ever changed anyone’s mind about politics. There is zero chance that just because I can give my opinion LOUDER THAN YOU CAN you will suddenly realize your belief system for the last 30 years is wrong and happily sign up for mine.

But after watching my Facebook feed split straight down the middle on health care reform, I wanted to share my thoughts. And since this is my blog and I have 100% control over what gets published here and what doesn’t, please believe I will DELETE any impolite or combative comments, although feel free to disagree nicely.

As a military dependent I enjoy a number of benefits, from discounts on clothes, tickets to Disney World and food to tax-free shopping on base. But in my opinion the absolute best part of my dependent status is my Tricare insurance coverage. 99% of the time I pay nothing (zero, nada, the opposite of some) to see a doctor, fill a prescription, get a referral, or have a baby. That’s right, although prenatal care and a hospital birth can cost tens of thousands of dollars (see this post over on His Boys Can Swim for their breakdown) the entire cost of my pregnancy was $14 for a giant bottle of Tums and a tube of Preparation H. Which I’m pretty sure I could have gotten a prescription for if I had asked. Which I then could have gotten filled at the base pharmacy for free.

I get most of my medical care on base from a combination of corpsmen, active duty doctors, and civilians contracted through the military – although I did get to see a local civilian provider for my OB care. I’m not saying Tricare¬† gets everything right.¬† Getting a same day appointment at the Navy Ambulatory Care Clinic means waking up at 6 am to talk to the regional call center and agreeing to see whatever doctor is on call instead my primary care provider. Sometimes the doctor on call talks on his cell phone through my whole appointment and then tells me I might have strep but he’s not going to order a test for it or write me a prescription so have a nice day! Then there was the bureaucratic hell that was trying to get my 4 day old jaundiced son in to see a pediatrician who was retiring in two days even though the baby wasn’t yet in the Navy’s computer system because HE WAS 4 DAMN DAYS OLD. But besides the totally free health care for myself, Tricare offers a very low cost (yearly cap for out-of-pocket/co-pay spending before they cover everything: $1000)¬† plan that lets us see the pediatrician right down the street any time Baby Evan falls on his face. Our total bill for the OMG EMERGENCY trip to the Children’s Hospital in Hartford? Less than $40. My complaints about one lousy doctor, a lot of paperwork and a long wait at the pharmacy pale in comparison to people who have gone bankrupt (or worse) over health care.

If my insurance coverage sounds sort of like – GASP – socialized medicine, that’s because it pretty much is. I hope one day everyone gets to enjoy what I take for granted. I’m shocked to see opposition to the health care bill among my peers who I know enjoy the same Tricare coverage I do. I’m pained that anyone would try to take the restrictions on unfair insurance practices away from people who desperately need them because of a misconception of a single line item or bit of wording. I’m thrilled my elected representatives managed to get something so huge accomplished and proud it happened during my lifetime.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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22 Responses to “My one and only post on the subject ever”

  1. lalaland13 says:

    That sounds totally awesome. And I’m with you 100 percent. By the by, I wish some reporter would ask Republicans what to do about Tricare since they’re against socialized medicine. Is socialism supporting the troops, Senator? Then I’d lean back and watch them trip over themselves.

  2. Natalie says:

    I knew we would totally hang out if we lived closer. Thanks for writing this. I just don’t know how to put it into words, but you did it so nicely. :o)

  3. Krista says:

    Teehee! May I politely offer a different opinion? I totally agree with you, Tricare overall rocks, and it’s little nuances suck, but it’s better than having to pay for any of it. It’s a benefit bestowed upon us by the government as dependents of men (and women) who choose to offer the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Those men, of COURSE, should get free healthcare, IMO, and I am thankful that the coverage is extended to us as families.

    However, I really do believe in the capitalized system of medicine (well, and everything, too!), where if you do things to jeopardize your health, YOU should have to pay for it! Why should all of the healthier taxpayers have to bear the burden of people who don’t take care of themselves? Why SHOULDN’T those people who choose to abuse their bodies have to pay more because of it? And yes, there are illnesses that no one could have prevented, cancers and leukemia and the ten cases a year of blood-transfusion AIDS…and it sucks that those people will have higher premiums, too, but THAT’S CAPITALISM! And that’s what insurance is for in the first place! It’s YOU betting that you WILL get sick, and the insurance company betting and hoping that you WON’T, but paying out when you DO. And if you choose to be a responsible adult who is able to personally SAVE for illness, then why in the world should you be forced to pay into a system that socializes your hard earned and hard saved money? You were smart and you covered you and yours…

    And lastly, how dare our government force us to buy ANYthing!

    I hope this is polite enough that you’ll keep it here, but after reading it again…LOL I will totally understand if you take it down. Opinions are like butt-holes…everybody’s got one! LOL!

  4. Krista says:

    And, again politely, to lalaland13, yes, socialism IS supporting our troops. However, our military is 100% volunteers who CHOOSE to use this system, in order to protect the other system for all of our citizens.

    Military and civilians use many systems that differ. Our military are not allowed to say certain things. They must follow orders, follow chain of command, and are not allowed to use their uniform to issue political statements. My husband is an officer, and is held to an even HIGHER standard: he would never offer a political opinion to the public at all, in uniform or not.

    Military members never get overtime, either. They are on-call for their command (and their country) 24/7/365, often leaving their families behind for months at a time.

    I don’t offer this as to say that because our men sacrifice these things, that they deserve socialized medicine. I am merely pointing out that the military lifestyle is COMPLETELY different to civilian life, and thus the argument to compare them isn’t really valid. Just more of my 2 cents.

  5. erniebufflo says:

    Great post! I tweeted it and shared it on Facebook. I hope you don’t mind.

    Personally, I’m the wife of a pediatrician, I have healthcare through my employer, and this really won’t change anything for me. My husband and I are very happy to see health reform passed and SIGNED INTO LAW YIPPEEEE!!! because we KNOW how much so many of his patients needed it.

  6. Anna says:

    that’s how health insurance works- the healthy people pay for the unhealthy people= by pooling risks, they can keep costs down for everyone. I’m currently enrolled in a masters of public health program with a health policy concentration, and I feel that if everyone knew how our current healthcare system works, there would be more widespread support for the bill. Not everyone who gets sick is at fault- I have epilepsy, and paying out of pocket for my medications would be impossible for me without insurance (especially considering tuition cost!! :) but I hope (as do many people & politicians backing the bill) that more coverage will encourage more preventive care and a healthier country.

    I’m not familiar with the Tricare system, but it sounds really great (and similar to our University plan) I am happy you have had such a positive, appreciative experience with it. great post!

  7. bebehblog says:

    Krista – I approved your comment because I wanted to respond and let others do the same. First, I have to say that although my husband serves our country in the military, I sit on my ass all day and eat bonbons. My kid was just lucky enough to be born a dependent. Why do we deserve health insurance more than anyone else?

    I don’t know how long you’ve been a military dependent but have you ever tried to get health care out in the free market? It’s not just people who “don’t take care of themselves” who have to pay RIDICULOUSLY high costs or can’t get coverage at all. Insurance companies can deny you coverage (when you sign up, when your employer switches programs, when you change jobs) for any pre-existing condition you can imagine – depression, a diagnosis of ADD as a child, lead poisoning, a previous c-section, effing COLOR BLINDNESS. It’s crazy.

    And let’s say you’re a responsible adult, like my sister. And as a responsible adult, like my sister, you go to college and get a pre-med degree so some day you can go to Africa and work with sick kids. Once you graduate, like my sister, you are poor and unable to find a full-time job that provides benefits. You’re totally WILLING to work. You’re QUALIFIED to work. You’d be happy to pay co-pays or premiums or whatever your employer wanted if only someone offered you health insurance. But because the economy is bad you’re unemployed and, unfortunately, too old to be covered by your parents insurance you’re screwed. How are you supposed to “personally SAVE for illness”? What if you’re totally healthy 23-year-old self gets hit by a car? The bill passed yesterday fixes many of the above scenarios.

    And lastly, you know the government forces you to buy auto insurance, right? Because it’s good for everyone to have that protection? It’s amazing how that worked out, without anyone becoming dirty commies or losing their constitutional rights.

  8. Brigid Keely says:

    Thanks for writing this.

    What isn’t being mentioned is that the people who will see the most benefits from the current health care legislation isn’t poor people, unemployed people, or any of the other “undeserving.” It’s middle class folks who already have insurance, and who have seen their rates go up year after year after year while their benefits go down and their pay stay the same. This legislation will prevent people from retroactively being denied coverage and asked to repay the insurance company for stuff that’s already been done. This legislation will prevent a woman who’s been physically abused by a domestic partner from being uninsurable because physical abuse is considered a “pre-existing condition.” This legislation will prevent children with medical needs from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

  9. Other Erin says:

    I’m all for some sort of health care reform. I grew up with parents who were self employed and had to buy their own policy and I’ve seen first hand the costs of going without traditional health care coverage.
    There are a couple of issues I have with the current bill but the biggest one is choice. I believe forcing people to buy something they don’t want is right. And to be a bit controversial I don’t see how forcing someone into a specific health care choice is different from forcing them into a specific reproductive choice. The government does force you to buy car insurance but you can choose not to have a car. Sure it’s very difficult in some places but if you feel that strongly about it, you have an option. There is no other option here. What if you are one of those religions who doesn’t believe in medical treatment? True, then you would be crazy, but isn’t the whole country founded on the belief that you have a right to that choice?
    Again, I really wanted to see something come out of this that fixed the problems. I would have been all for eliminating the laws that exempt insurance companies from anti-trust laws or tried to address the skyrocketing costs of health care. Maybe the inisurance companies will figure out a way to work in the new pre-existing condition law into their businesses in a way that doesn’t cause private premiums to keep going up. But I just can’t get behind something that limits my personal choices.

    Great post – despite being in a Masters program for public policy, there is a severe lack of people around who can have an intelligent and civil debate on the subject.

  10. Christa says:

    Thanks for writing this! I’m for health care reform, all the way up to a system of universal health care similar to what almost every other first world nation on the planet has, and I’m happy that the health reform bill passed, but I’ve been calling it the “health insurance reform bill.” I just don’t think it goes far enough. I know so many people who complain that the government is simply not capable of running a universal health care system or any system of health care, and it is SO nice to hear good things from someone who is currently using and liking a system of health care run by *gasp* our government.

  11. Meg says:

    Susanne, you summed up everything I want to say in your post and your comments. I am facing imminent unemployment (when my contract is up at the end of May) and I hope I can keep my health benefits through Cobra.

    I also politely take issue with the comment about people doing stuff to themselves. It seems a wee bit uncharitable for me–I’ve never had a cigarette in my life–to blame someone with lung cancer for being a smoker. Because not all people with lung cancer are/were smokers.

    A year ago, I was morbidly obese. My body fat was at about 50%. I have worked very hard to lose weight, and I’m currently at about 39%. Why was I so fat in the first place? Because I’m lazy? Stupid? No! I didn’t have the resources I needed, and I’m very, very fortunate that I have the money (and monetary support from my parents) to buy sessions with a personal trainer so that I could get on the right track.

    But if I’d gotten diabetes, or had a heart attack, there are people who would say I deserved it. That’s just sad.

  12. bebehblog says:

    Erin – I think we’re so close to agreeing on this we couldn’t fight if we tried :) The only difference is you would rather wait for a bill that contains less you object to and I would rather they pass this one despite some stuff I may not love.

    I sort of feel like shouting about personal choice! and freedom! and government control!!! is just a way those opposed try to scare people. As if the next step after health care reform is medical police who come to your house and inject you with drugs while you sleep. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would choose NOT to have health insurance if it was easily available and affordable. The government makes all sorts of laws that limit (or punish) personal choice – I can’t smoke pot or shoot the neighbor’s annoying dog or take things from the grocery store without paying – and America is still a democracy.

    And – TOTALLY UNRELATED TO YOUR COMMENTS – I love people who threaten to move to another country if America gets “socialized” health care. Considering we’re the only industrialized nation without universal health care, I hope they don’t miss running water and flush toilets too much.

  13. Meghan says:

    I am so jealous of your health care! Even though my husband makes a good living and we had great health coverage last year, this year the health plan changed with no warning and our deductible went up by $5000. So, we put our plans of moving into a different house on hold so we could pay to have our baby. How is the American consumer supposed to save and plan for these expenses when the amount keeps changing? We had the money for our ’09 deductible (did I mention it was a $5000 increase!!) but that didn’t really matter when it keeps changing.

  14. Erin says:

    I was really excited to comment on this blog post but after I read all the comments I realized that I didn’t have much more to say than what you already said.( I really like the part about not wanting to wait for a perfect bill, that I’m glad they passed this one because it is mostly good even though there are some things I don’t love.)

    I feel like people are being really unrealistic expecting this bill to have to be perfect for EVERYONE. That is never going to happen! I actually read a blog today that said that “Barack Obama truly wants the federal government to pay for abortions” (because the bill did not have strong enough wording against government funded health care paying for abortions). That is a direct quote that someone (on my facebook page) posted today. It seems obvious to me that saying the point of this bill is to kill babies is really stretching it. I feel like people are coming up with all of these absurd arguments is to avoid having to say “Since I don’t personally need this, I don’t care if anyone else does”. Even within a capitalist society, it is our government’s job to protect our quality of life. Just like they insure the banks and inspect our food. Those things cost us in some way and limit capitalism but protect us in ways that free market would not.

  15. Erin says:

    I also wanted to say that I also have great health care. As a reservist, my family is able to buy into Tricare provided by Humana (the same Tricare that Suzanne is talking about for baby Evan). The health care is privately owned and makes a profit for Humana, but because of the reserves the price is the same for every participating family and we cannot be denied. The reserves is not even my husband’s regular employer (whose insurance we don’t have to take because we have a better option). The government is not approving what is covered and what is not, Humana is. Having this insurance has been life changing for us. We have the freedom to change jobs without fear. It protected us when my husband recently lost a job. It makes it possible to own our own business or work free-lance. The military pays for it’s members health care because it benefits them. This isn’t like that. This is benefit to us; but it is available because it is possible, practical, and it works for this small demographic. I just think it is wonderful that this is going to be available to everyone else!!! (even if it isn’t perfect or it takes a couple of tries to get it right)

  16. Erin says:

    Sorry I wrote so much after saying I had nothing else to say :)

  17. Londonmum says:

    Really interesting to read your post and all the comments. I live in England and we have been following the progress of Health care reform in the US with much interest (i get most of my insight from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, i warn you!). Here in the UK we have the NHS (National Health Service). This means that everyone who works pays a portion of their salary as National Insurance which then the govt uses to fund free health care for everyone. And i mean EVERYONE..
    No matter what your economic status you are entitled to see a GP for free, to have an operation for free, to see a specialist for free, to have a baby for free. Granted sometimes you might have to wait a while for the above (not the baby part, that goes without saying) but you will get the care you need and in my experience it is very good. My mother was hospitalised for 6 months following a brain haemorrhage and was given daily rehab which has allowed her to make a great recovery. It didn’t cost us a penny but if this had been in the US we would have had to deal with her being kicked out after a few days and try to find care for her.
    I had my baby in an NHS hospital despite the fact that I also have private medical insurance through my work (for an american company ;-) ) and they took care of me during my c-section and the 5 days recovery afterwards. The NHS also sends a midwife to your house the day after the birth and 3/4 times in the next 2 weeks to make sure everything is going ok. There is also a free baby clinic you can go to every week to have the baby weighed and talk about any issues you might be having. This is all free! The only reason I have private insurance is because it is offered as a perk through my job and it would enable me to see a specialist faster if I needed to or have a private room in a hospital.
    I have no qualms about the fact that I work to pay for this for everyone. Healthcare is a basic fundamental right. I am stunned that some people in the US are against this concept.

  18. Law Momma says:

    I love you. That is all. :)

  19. ryan says:

    like!

    i didn’t have “real” health insurance until i was 31. it’s attached to my job. a job i took only after calling the insurance company to “casually” ask whether pregnancy was covered – i was 6 weeks pregnant. i didn’t WANT the job but felt i had to take it. what’s worse, i didn’t tell my employer i was pregnant until i hit the 12 week mark. i’m taking 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave and have already made the decision not to go back. i should tell my employer but i’m not going to – i need the health insurance and can’t afford COBRA. i’m sure some would say my decisions are unethical but these are things people do every single day to gain access to quality, affordable health care. care that should be a right.

  20. Donavon says:

    Hey Suze, Thanks for the posting that. I have been really upset by the all facebook comments about the healthcare bill, but have refused to post my 2 cents for fear that comments that people will post will cause me to run over to their houses and shoot them in the faces. : ) I’m so sweet. I have been researching this bill a lot lately. #1 I think people have no idea what they are even commenting about. #2 I think some people just don’t like Obama and since he did something so historic, they just automatically don’t like it. I will tell you and your followers something that I wouldn’t post to the whole facebook community. So you know how I have a very bad left knee that has caused me to have many many surgeries in my short 28 years on this planet. In the summer of 2006, I made a decision that I wish I had never made… to have this particular innovative knee surgery. My company pioneered the procedure along with my surgeon, so I thought I would be ok. I went under the knife in December of 2006 and I have regretted it EVERY.DAY.SINCE. There were some complications after the surgery which led to more surgery and doctor’s visits and prescriptions and therapy…the list goes on and on and to this day and I am still receiving treatments and therapies for this problem. Now I have a really great job and really great health insurance, so I always thought I would be fine. My insurance company even covered 100% of my $124,000 procedure. Maybe I would have to dish out a few $15 co-pays here and there or $5 every once in awhile for a prescription…no big deal. Here we are in March of 2010 and I am tens of thousands of dollars in debt from medical bills. I lived with my parents after I went to college and started working right away, so I saved up a good amount of money, even paid cash for a brand new car, so I had a lot of savings and felt safe and secure. I am now at the point where I closed my savings account because it had been drained completely long ago. I will have maybe $8 in my bank account before my next paycheck gets deposited. I open credit cards to buy Xmas gifts and can never pay the bill in full. I was a normal, moderately successful person and now I am broke and further ruining my credit day by day. You would think I was a homeless person with a terrible disease. but I’m not. I am just a middle class working young woman, like a lot of people out there. I have great health insurance and a great job. But if you get one thing wrong with you medically, that can all go to shit and not matter. I stop and think sometimes about people who don’t have insurance and who have a terrible disease like cancer, and how I would be hundreds of thousands of dollards in debt if I didn’t have insurance. I don’t deserve to be in the situation I’m in and neither does any other American either.

  21. bebehblog says:

    Donavon – Thank you so much for sharing your story and commenting on my post. I am so so sorry for all you’ve gone through and what you are dealing with in regards to your health care. I was also trying to keep most of my political opinions off of Facebook so I’m thrilled this blog gave you a safe place to express yourself. I just can’t imagine anyone objecting to reform that would help you after knowing you are a real life, living, breathing example of why the reforms are so important.

  22. April says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I made a grave mistake in posting on FB that my daughter and I watched the bill get signed into law on C-Span. I was excited to share with my daughter an exciting and promising moment in our life time. My dear Republican friends hyjacked the feed. Many of my close friends know I am a registered Independent. I have no commitment to the GOP or the Dems – a college education did that to me. I went in as a Republican, came out a Democrat, and Motherhood made me realize the Independent stance.
    Changes have to start somewhere. For lack of a more educated analogy – when trying to clean out someone elses storage closet – things appear worse before they get better. My hope rest in this Law. Although I do not agree with everything contained within – it is something to work with NOW, it HAS to get better.
    Most middle class, working Americans (Military included) are just a few mistakes or circumstances away from financial distress. I have many hard working family members who will benefit greatly from this law as you sister will too.

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