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Earth to GOP: Define health-care “rationing”…rationally, please

I see the Republicans’ latest maneuver to obstruct Obama’s health care plan is to flamboozle us senior citizens into thinking a public option for health care will mean “rationing.” It would be awfully nice if the GOP would explain, please, how it is that we don’t have health care rationing right now.

If you’ve had any ailment more dire than a runny nose, about your only option for obtaining health insurance is through a full-time job with a company large enough to afford a plan for its employees, or through marriage to someone who has access to such a plan. This lets out self-employment; it lets out buying an individual policy on the open market; it lets out working for most small businesses. Sometimes you don’t even know a “diagnosis” exists until an insurer informs you it will not cover you.

Refusing to cover people for this, that, or the other ailment—or setting up an obstacle course that causes people to avoid seeking medical care for fear of putting a metaphorical black blot on their records—amounts to health care rationing. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t get health care, because no one but the very wealthy can afford to pay out of pocket for a trip to the doctor.

A while ago, the State of Arizona offered only one health plan, which most of my doctors would not accept. Because I did not care to go to just any quack some company bureaucrat ordered me to see, I decided to buy an individual policy.

A year or so prior to that, I had visited my doctor for a routine physical. Delivering the usual clean bill of health, he asked if anything that we hadn’t covered was bothering me. I reminded him of the supposed neuroma on my right foot and remarked that I was tired of the choice of footwear the chronic pain left me: hiking boots or Dansko clodhoppers. He sent me to an orthopedic colleague, who had the foot X-rayed, did an examination, and said there was no evidence of a neuroma, nothing that he could see was wrong, and I should just learn to live with the foot discomfort.

So, a year or two later when I went to apply for this insurance policy, Blue Cross informed me that it would not cover me for any broken bones or for any back problems of any kind.

Say what?

Asked why, their bureaucrat said it was because I had “osteopenia.” I said I’d never heard of any such thing, no one had ever made any such diagnosis, and I didn’t even know what it was. He said there it was in my records.

Looking into this, I discovered it had been stuck there by the orthopedist, who thought the X-ray of my foot showed a slight thinning of the bones. Osteopenia is considered to be a precursor to osteoporosis, although that opinion is dubious.

At this point I trotted to my gynecologist, since at the time I was premenopausal. He ordered a complete body scan. When this returned, he said I did not have osteopenia, and in fact, my bones were stronger than those of most women my age.

By then, open enrollment had passed, I’d missed the chance to get private insurance, and I was forced to buy a health plan through GDU that I did not want and that did not cover the doctors of my choice.

So what we have here is insurance companies telling you…

you will not be covered (therefore can not have medical care) for certain issues, whether or not those issues are related to the “diagnosis” the company dislikes;
this limitation is based on a decision made by someone outside the doctor-patient relationship; and
you may only go to certain doctors, none of whom are doctors of your choice.

If that’s not rationing, I’d like to know what it is.

If you’re older than about 50 and lose your job or decide to start your own enterprise, you’ve got a snowball’s chance of obtaining healthcare coverage. Whatever policy you can land will except every ailment even remotely related to any symptoms that have appeared in your doctor’s records, and the cost of whatever policy you can obtain will be prohibitive. Because of the costs, you likely will be herded into an HMO, where you will have no choice of doctors, where the doc who does see you will have about 10 minutes to make a snap decision about any problem that arises, and where some bureaucrat will say what treatment options you have and don’t have and what medications you may and may not buy.

The Republicans are trying to convince us that we don’t already have health care rationing, when obviously we do. Then they’re trying to whip up hysteria by telling us that the precious full choice we supposedly have now is going to go away. Evidently they think enough of us are morons that spreading stupidity will block any progress toward meaningful health care coverage for all Americans—and given the number of people who bought into that idiot Palin’s “death panel” fantasy, they may be right.

How did the Republican Party become the party of jerks, fools, and scoundrels?

I used to be a Goldwater Girl, believe it or not. Barry Goldwater signed my first straight-A report card at the University of Arizona. I’d just received it in the mail, and as I reached the top of the stairs coming up from the Student Union’s basement mailroom, there was The Man himself, strolling through the building with only one or two sidekicks in tow. In an instant’s whim I barged up to him and asked if he’d put his autograph on it. Amazingly enough, he did.

If Barry Goldwater were alive today, he would be so revolted by the state of the party he would change his registration. Indeed, near the end of his life, he was heard to use the a****** word about the faction that was then just beginning to assume power in the party, whom he regarded as “a bunch of kooks.”

How right he was.

😀 In our hearts, we knew he was right. 😀

Of interest, along these lines
And this update

9 thoughts on “Earth to GOP: Define health-care “rationing”…rationally, please”

  1. You go, girl. This is another “What’s the matter with Kansas” moment, I think, when the “common people” (like me) are being manipulated by the convergence of interests of the AMA, insurance companies, and lawyers. They are, I am sure, just sitting back and smirking–along with their well-paid lobbyists–at what has been unleashed.

    Not sure about your paean to Barry Goldwater, however.

  2. @ frugalscholar: The bizarre thing is that Goldwater almost looks liberal compared to the wacko fundamentalists in charge of the party now. He’d have been abhorred to see the degree of influence they’ve achieved and the crazed ideas they’ve inflicted on the country. While he was billed as “Mr. Conservative” for campaigning (pro and con) purposes, in real life he was more like a Libertarian. And to say those folks make the current faction in power look wacko is SAYIN’ something!

  3. At least in AZ they take you but exempt certain conditions. Here in MN they can no longer do that so they just deny you completely. The choice left is to go on the MN comprehensive plan and pay a 25% higher premium. Which is worse? Barb in MN

  4. The regulators have so many rules on health insurance companies here, we have only 2-3 to pick from. Legislators think they are helping the insurance buying public by telling companies what they can’t do, but they are really hurting competition with all the rules. Companies leave the state and the few left can charge high rates and cherry pick who they want. It’s a horrible state to buy individual coverage. The fallback is the state risk pool with the higher rates. So, its better in AZ with the exclusions.

  5. I’m fortunate enough to be covered by an employers plan now but I have had the dis-pleasure of shopping for an individual policy. I did get the policy, but they excluded many things (which I hadn’t sought treatment for in years) plus charged 3 times the quoted rate. If they are excluding so many items from coverage, why do they also have to charge more? We already have a bureaucrat deciding whether you get treatment or not, only they work for the insurance company and have the profit motive behind their decisions.

  6. With that blanket party bashing, you’ve got one less reader. If you want to have constructive debate that’s fine, but simply saying things like “How did the Republican Party become the party of jerks, fools, and scoundrels?” does nothing to help the debate. I am a Republican and I’m not a jerk, fool or scoundrel. Neither side right now is having a constructive debate, all they want to do is beat the other side. Seem like you have fallen into the same kind of argument. Like I said, you’ve now got one less reader.

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