Monday, March 5, 2012

What we've got here is failure to communicate

(I can't even type that subject line without hearing the Captain's slow drawl from Cool Hand Luke.)

Thanks so much for commenting yesterday. Your input reinforces my core belief that there are some savvy women out there who could whip this country into shape in a heartbeat, if only you were in charge.

I could barely tear myself away from Facebook yesterday, where the comments continued to mount up regarding what I am now calling The Limbaugh Incident. The amount of misinformation, beginning with El Rushbo himself, is staggering.

For instance, he apparently thinks birth control works like the little blue pill – you need to take one every time you have sex.

Many, many Facebook comments went along these lines:
I don't care if you take birth control, but don't make me pay for it!
No one is saying birth control should be free, or paid for using taxpayers' funds. The issue is, as LG commented, whether insurance should cover it. As someone who has not used birth control for 37 years, I didn't even realize contraception was not covered. (Can you believe my doctor agreed to perform a tubal ligation when I was 24 years old? Would a doctor do that now?)

If you don't have a prescription plan as part of your health insurance coverage, you will be paying out of pocket. But if you don't have a prescription plan, you're paying for all your prescribed medication with your own money.

This is the lastest of many (every) health care issues that leads me back to the idea that single-payer should be the law of the land. PPACA doesn't even come close to guaranteeing universal coverage.

My problem now is that I pretty much surround myself with like-minded people who agree with me. I've no one to convince that I'm right. Those with whom I associate and interact already know I'm right, because they're right as well. Heh. And honestly? I don't like to fight, or even cajole.

I like to be a good example. If I can state my case simply, calmly and clearly, and if I can back it up with credible sources, then I'm done. If one doesn't wish to listen to reason or if one would rather make up the facts, I might as well move on to someone with a more open mind.

Which is why I won't be calling in to talk to Rush today.


Emily said...

I've been a bit overwhelmed by the misinformation as well. It's ridiculous. However, I'm not living somewhere where I'm not often surrounded by like minded folks. I just keep my mouth shut because I feel it's pointless...perhaps I've given up. But the conflict isn't worth it and I'm certainly not going to change my mind!

denise said...

When I was cleaning out my desk after being laid off, I came across a copy of a memo I wrote back in the early 80's to the Executive Committee (then the governing body) of my company.** In it, I expressed in very strong language my displeasure and concern that our company insurance would not cover the birth control pills that were prescribed to me - not for birth control, but to control significant "monthly issues" that would have otherwise limited my ability to work a full schedule each month.

Back at that time, you could get "the pill" covered if you had a doctor provide a note indicating that it was not for birth control - so ultimately the issue wasn't even that I couldn't be reimbursed - it was what felt to me like the injustice of having to do that for a prescription provided by my doctor. And, the illogical thinking that said "we won't pay for birth control, but we will pay for the expense of a pregnancy...not to mention coverage for the child after that." Just didn't make much sense to me.

Of course, at that time, this was the first medication I had been denied, so I was very taken back by it. As the years progressed, I've come to realize that just because a doctor thinks you need something, it doesn't prevent the insurance company from denying payment. And, ultimately, that's the strongest argument to be made. To me, it's not about denying this particular class of drugs, but about having an insurance company that can overrule your doctor about what's best for your health.

And, in this case it appears that the employer and the insurance company are making the determination together, which is even scarier! Why go to a doctor at all - just call up the HR department, conference them in with the insurance rep and let them provide the appropriate solution!

On the other hand, I realize that unlimited access could breed abuse...or should I say more a number of ways - abuse of the drugs, abuse of power by drug companies who influence doctors to prescribe their higher-priced options, doctors over prescribing because it's covered, and a million other ways people could come up with to work the system. But it still doesn't make sense that the majority suffers for the misbehavior of the minority...

And...(btw, this is why I have a hard time making decisions - over thinking)...I'm not necessarily happy to have the government stepping in and forcing health care decisions, as that seems a bit of a slippery slope as well. In this case, I applaud the sentiment, but am not necessarily comfortable with legislating the solution.

On the final hand (how many hands is that anyway), I don't have a better solution to offer other than to try to bring some kind of public pressure to bear...which when going up against a church is unlikely to be successful.

It would be great if a law could be presented that required these institutions to divulge publicly their policies in this area so that potential students/employees were sure to make the decision to go these with eyes wide open.

Alternatively, perhaps revocation of any tax advantages or exempt status given to religious organizations who refuse this coverage might would - in the end, it always comes down to the $$! (Not that I'm a cynic or anything..)

That's my $0.02+ worth...

**Yes, I am a pack rat who still had items from the early 80's in my files when I left my job!

Debbi said...

Emily, I live in Redneck, West Virginia, so I know what you mean about like-minded folks being, um, few and far between. Becoming involved in the local Democratic women's club was a lifesaver for me. I like to say I'd have no friends if it weren't for President Obama!

Denise, your experience is EXACTLY why we need single-payer, which is NOT government health insurance. The perfect model for SP, already in place in the U.S., is Medicare. All the government needs to do is open Medicare enrollment to anyone of any age. Your doctor would be working with you regarding your medical care, just as s/he does now for everyone privileged with the program. His staff would not have to fight with any insurance company to pay for tests, treatments or drugs.

I only hope I live long enough to reap some Medicare benefits. The more progressive Congress is, the better chance we have of seeing single-payer happen in our grandchildren's lifetimes. I have no hope of seeing it happen before I leave this world.

Thanks to both for your comments!