I may as well admit it—we are using government-funded insurance. Not for us, but for the girls. Andrew doesn’t qualify for state-funded insurance because he has a student health plan available to use so is required to do that, which is fine because that’s only about $97 per month. To add the girls and me onto the plan would bring our premium to $315.50 per month.
Without being too frank about our finances, I can tell you that the maximum gross income a family our size can have while maintaining eligibility for government-funded health insurance is $3,675. We don’t make anywhere near that amount per month, even when Andrew was working full-time (without benefits, of course) this summer we were shy of that amount by at least a grand. Now that the semester has begun Andrew has had to drastically cut back his working hours. He went to the MPA orientation two weeks ago and this past week was the first week of real classes. He’s gone before the girls and I get up in the morning and comes home in time for dinner before sequestering himself in the office to do homework. Rachel has already asked why Daddy lives at school instead of at home so if that’s any indication of how the semester is going to be…well, yeah. It will be tough.
I’m working, too, though not very much. Before we had children I worked approximately 40 hours per week—not all at the same job, of course, because no one ever seems to be hiring for full-time positions—but now that we have children I’m lucky if I work 40 hours in a month. Being a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom is a tough job but we figure it is worth my staying home to avoid child care costs, which can be quite astronomical. Also, so that I can raise our children. That’s good, too.
We already took out a student loan to help buffer the cost of Andrew’s last degree and we have to cover tuition for the MPA program. So in a nutshell? We’re basically broke.
But that’s what young family life is about, right? And eventually we will be contributing members of society so I don’t feel too badly about being a leech for a while. After all, I was raised a socialist.
Live together, die alone. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
Isn’t that why we live in societies?
Anyway, our girls qualified for government-funded health insurance, so thank you to all tax payers. One day we’ll be able to help someone else out and I think that’s great, but for now we’re willing to accept assistance.
Once we had gone to the orientation meeting and selected a provider I called a clinic by my house—you know, since I don’t drive—to make appointments for our girls since Rachel is due for her yearly check-up and Miriam will be due for her yearly check-up soon and both girls are behind on their vaccination schedules.
“Will you be able to bring in a copy of their vaccination records?”
“Yes, I will.”
“And what kind of insurance do you have?”
I told her.
“Oh. Well, in that case Dr. X won’t be taking new patients until March.”
“You mean…like Tuesday?’
I dunno. Perhaps she spoke French or Spanish. Mardi…Martes…March. It could happen.
“No, I mean March.”
Ummmmmm…Excuse me, March!? That’s next year.
“So, are there any other doctors at this clinic taking new patients?”
“Yes, Drs. Y and Z but they won’t be taking your kind until 2012.”
And what the “my kind?” Who do you think you are?
Luckily the clinic we were going to before we moved doesn’t mind that we’re now on government-funded health insurance because we are “established patients.” I made appointments for my girls there, so now I’ll actually be able to take Rachel to the doctor before she starts kindergarten (which won’t be for another two years, mind you).
Now, I realize that some might consider me a burden to society but did society ever stop to wonder how it might be a burden to me?
America’s medical system is broken and this is a burden for me and my family.
Medical costs in America are extortionate. My deductible for having a baby in Egypt was $50. If we were to have a baby here in the States the current deductable is $7500. That’s up $2500 from when we had Rachel three years ago. That is insanely expensive! With a typical co-pay amount in America ($25) you can easily pay 100% of a visit to a doctor in a swanky private clinic with a doctor educated in “The West.” I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t agree that medical prices in America are out of control.
I know that for some reason it is more costly to doctors to treat patients with government health insurance, though I do not understand why that is when in other countries with universal health care doctors treat patients with government insurance all day long and still seem to make money.
Schooling for doctors is too expensive—changing that would be helpful. The liability insurance that doctors must pay is also expensive—they wouldn’t need such hefty insurance if patients weren’t so sue-happy. That is another thing we could change. Equipment is expensive, medicine is expensive. I still do not understand how it is that these things are so expensive in America and not expensive other places. Sure, there are subsidies other places, but come on! I’m no economist but something seems fishy to me. The wool is being pulled over our eyes somewhere along the line and someone is getting filthy rich, and I suppose that is their prerogative in this progressive, free market—they lie a little, take advantage of others, dig a pit for their neighbour, and there’s no harm in this because at least they’ll be stinking rich. Right?
On the contrary, I think that the well-being of the poor is a reflection on society as a whole. Not everyone can be the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Carlos Slims of the world. There is always going to be a bottom rung of the ladder—the better off the people on that rung, the better the society, I think. I think it is our duty, as citizens of society, to take care of the bottom rung (our family isn’t quite on the bottom rung, but we’re in close second).
America’s bottom rung is actually pretty well off compared to places like, ummm…Swaziland, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan. But compared to developed countries like Japan, Canada, or the UK we actually aren’t looking so hot. Our life expectancy is ranked #38 in the world. Our standard of living is in the top 20% but even Alan Greenspan, a prominent American economist who calls the American economy “the most extraordinarily successful economy in history,” says that “the income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.”
The median household income in the United States (for 2008) was approximately 52,000 USD. In Canada it was 63,900 CAD, after taxes. Today 63,900 CAD is equal to 61,471 USD. So it seems to me that people are making more in Canada…after having taken out their taxes, which pay a large portion of their medical insurance. But, as I said, I’m no economist.
Anyway, I suppose what I’m saying by all this is that we should be taking care of our poor. It may not be the “right” of the poor to receive health care but denying it to them only reflects poorly on society. We can close the rich-poor gap, but not by perpetuating our flawed, broken systems. We need to change things.
For example, I don’t have to pay a penny for my girls to see the doctor and while that’s nice, that’s not exactly what we were looking for when we sought assistance. We were looking to not go broke, not to not have to pay anything. Everything is covered 100% and I think that is a little extreme. I wouldn’t mind paying a $10 copay or $50 for an appointment. I simply can’t afford to pay $315 each month and then pay $25+ for each doctor visit I go to.
Isn’t there some happy medium out there? Can’t we make a system that allows affordable health coverage for everyone—the rich and the poor? It seems to me that if we had a better health plan our entire population would be healthier and wouldn’t need to go to the doctor as often, freeing up room in the ER, and increasing our ability to work hard and improve our country, which would increase our rankings for standard of living and life expectancy.
I know I’m a lone voice in this area of the country, crying out for liberty and justice for all. I forget that health care isn’t considered a right by all—and that I am so often considered crazy for wanting to care for those who can’t care for themselves.
And I think I will end now before I say anything too inflammatory. But first I will think all the tax-payers again for helping me take my baby to the doctor when she was sick. Otherwise her illness may have progressed to pneumonia and then she would have risked death. But I suppose if she had died it would have been “my fault” because I “didn’t work hard enough” to provide for her. So thank you, one and all, for keeping my baby alive.