Monday, August 04, 2008

Thanks -- and a word about health care in this country...

Hi all,

I wanted to just thank from the bottom of my heart all who expressed their sympathy over my recent hospital bill situation. And thanks so much to those who donated as well.

I'm really touched by the support. Donations reached almost $300, which makes paying the lump sum of $500 by my deadline today much easier.

After that, I will have to pay about $100 for the next 14 months. But being smart with my finances and cutting some corners should help with that.

But thank you so much again. You are very fine people.


Originally, this bill was over $14,000. At that time, things looked very bleak. I was in a lot of self-denial. I was in self-denial about how close I came to dying, too. I was in self-denial about that until like eight months ago. At Beth Israel Medical Center, they marveled at how calm and good natured I was through the whole situation, how polite I was to the nurses. But I was calm largely because I was in complete self-denial. It's a survival mechanism.

But there was one moment I almost lost it, when they brought me my dinner. Dinner was like a stale danish and orange juice. I had almost bled to death, the nurses told me I had a dangerously low amount of blood in my system that could lead to a bunch of things including cardiac arrest. And they brought me a stale danish.

I screamed: "GET ME A CHICKEN SALAD!!!!!!!!"

And they said, that's only in the visitor's cafeteria. And I made them go to there and get me a fucking chicken salad with eggs. And I'm sure, if I look over my itemized bill again, I'll see the chicken salad.

Though my blood pressure was so low at one point that the nurses freaked out and started running all over the receiving room where my bed was (I didn't have a proper room until the last four hours of my stay), the doctors held back from giving me a blood transfusion. At one point a nurse fought with a doctor and said I was in danger of dying unless I got the transfusion. But they wouldn't give it to me. When I limped into a medical office a few days later -- still white as a sheet, out of breath, and only able to move very slowly because of the lack of blood in my system -- my doctor was horrified that nobody gave me a blood transfusion.

And really, I think at least part of the reason they didn't give it to me because I had no insurance, and they figured it'd be just another cost I was likely to not pay. Why waste blood on the uninsured? It might be the same reason I had to recuperate after surgery in a crowded receiving room with questionable hygiene. And that might be part of the reason why I acquired a massive infection that cost me hundreds of dollars and three months of hell to fight.

But those bills -- and their collection agents -- certainly arrived soon enough. They wouldn't knock any money off the charges for the infection I got through surgery -- but they charged me literally for every bandage I used to stop the bleeding. I remember asking for another bandage, and being warned that I would be charged for it. But the nurse felt sorry for me and said she would look the other way and give me a bandage for free. I wish this was an exaggeration. And so what, I decide to save myself the 8 or 15 dollars for the bandage (essentially, a glorified maxipad) and just bleed all over the bed? Is it like being fed a stale danish after massive blood loss? Why are these considered *options?*

I think our health care situation in the US is largely corrupt and dysfunctional. I think it puts undue pressure on people who are experiencing or recovering from serious illness. I think it makes the uninsured far more likely to not recover. I think it makes the hospitals, whether they are or are not conscious of it, far less likely to give good care to the uninsured. I think it makes people in corporate jobs far more likely to put up with bad practices and not speak up, because they are afraid of losing their jobs and hence their medical insurance. And from my own experience I've watched medical insurers fight tooth-and-nail against paying out the insurance anyway.

Learning preventative health care and voting out those who are against universal health care are great first steps. But also, I think there needs to be a constant outcry over these medical nightmares. What happened to me sounds bad, but the crucial thing is that I lived and I need no further medical treatment in order to deal with the injury (though there is some debate as to how much damage the long-term infection from the surgery caused, and if I ever find out it has hurt my reproductive system I'm going to sue them for every penny they have -- and they aren't the only parties who are going to get sued). So even if the hospital cleans me out financially, I can't die from lack of treatment; the only way I can be hurt is in my pocket.

But there are plenty of people out there who need life-saving treatment and cannot get it because they are uninsured. Whose quality-of-life is severely impacted. Who, at the same time they are suffering or even dying, are getting harassed by bill collectors and turning time they need to heal into a time of anxiety and pain.

We can't pat our backs in this country and say "God Bless America" and have this go on. It's not the hallmark of a civilized society. We have tall buildings, 3000 cable channels, and a system that does not adequately take care of the health of all its citizens. Massive FAIL.


  1. I'm writing about this in LITG today. There are so many campaigns being set up to pay the healthcare costs of comic creators, especially after a couple of incidents at San Diego.

    But what do you do if you don't have a readership, a fan following, a Facebook group?

    I know one New Yorker who, after lacerating something, decided it would be cheaper to bind it, take painkillers and fly to the UK, bleeding on the seat.

    On arrival they were treated for free.

  2. The real tragedy is that the state of our health care will get buried under talk of oil prices, housing crisis, the war, and racism before it settles back to health care.

    We are not living up to the promise of America and we are not holding those responsible in any way accountable. Both sides of the aisle have largely failed at coming up with a solution to insure everyone. Can it be that they just don't fucking get it? Take away their benefits for a year and they'd come up with universal health care right quick.

  3. I've always said somewhat tongue-in-cheek that being the hegemonic state has the cost of not having health care. It is sort of true, I think, but not really entirely. I don't know, I am turning more & more socialist the more I think of things-- like, subsidise more education! more housing! heath care! So on & so forth.

  4. The corruption of the health-care system, in my experience, extends to the everyday practices of doctors. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of positive experiences I've had with medical professionals of any stripe. Mostly, I find that their primary interests are padding their bills and covering their asses -- treating their patients comes a distant third. The TV cliche of the caring doctor who gets involved in the lives of his or her patients and cares deeply about humanity I find is utterly nonexistent in the US, where people seem to go into medicine because it can make them rich and even the utterly incompetent are protected by the rest of the professional community.

  5. No argument with you about the sorry state of the health care system. What I don't understand(I know it's about lobbying by the insurance industry) is why the folks in power don't improve the system.

    If politicians of any party supported and helped to pass legislation that would improve and provide health care for all, those folks would pretty much have to kill someone in order to not get reelected. and even then it would have to be a conviction. seriously, why don't they get that.

  6. I think I'm going to have to direct attention to your story here the next time I hear someone complaining about health care in Canada.

  7. Oh GOD this is so on the money. I don;t know of an industry in the US more in need of a total upheaval more than Health Care.

    It's not only about the things you touched upon, but the insane resistance to allow procedures/medicine/etc that Doctors say are needed but some guy in a suit without any real knowledge of the case deems unnessary so the procedures/medicine.etc are denied.

    Also, I have been writing reprentitives for years trying to get some sort of bill passed that would allow Adult Children to cover their eldery parents on their Health Insurance. If someone plays for family coverage AND they claim their parants on their taxes as dependants... why should they not be able to cover them on their health insurance?

  8. But what do you do if you don't have a readership, a fan following, a Facebook group?

    If you are like a good many Americans, you find a job that has decent health care insurance. Once you find that job, you do your best to keep that job. There have been times in my life where I have just wanted to quit whatever sucky job I had and go look for employment elsewhere. The one thing that always made me reconsider was that once I quit the job I hated, I would be without health insurance.

    Sometimes the only thing that keep you going to a job that you hate is that it means you and your family will have health insurance. That is precisely the reason employers started offering health insurance to their employees after World War 2; to attract and keep good employees.

  9. "I think our health care situation in the US is largely corrupt and dysfunctional."

    And how would turning it over to the government (also known for its corruption and dysfunction) ensure the reform the system admittedly needs?

  10. I totally understand where you're coming from here. About 2 years ago I had a bit of a medical scare that required a boat load of tests. They were the expensive kind that required radioactive dyes and cameras in your heart all kinds of wonderfull goodness. Even with insurance I was shocked at how much everything ended up costing me. The worst part (and probably the least expensive overall) was when my Insurance company charged me $500 for seeing a doctor that was outside of my network. He was the emergency room doctor! It's not like when you get checked into the emergency room you get a choice!

    We're the richest nation in the history of the world, the idea that we can't properly take care of each other is depressing.

  11. "On arrival they were treated for free."

    No out of pocket cost for your pal, Rich...but the treatment was hardly "free". The treatment was courtesy of your heavily-taxed countrymen and stressed out, demoralized health care providers.

    Plus, you know as well as I do that "free" health care often involves long waits (sometimes 12 months or more) or being sent to another country or the private sector for care...with some dying as they wait.

    Believe me, the U.S. health care system is in need of reform, but turning it over to the government is hardly the Utopia guys like Rich insist it is. Do a little research before you vote in a government take-over.

  12. I'm a new reader who is simply *appalled* to read your hospital horror story. Millions of us donate blood so that it's available for those who need have it blocked for non-medical reasons makes me livid.

    So much of the so-called "healthcare industry" has nothing to do with any aspect of health other than the health of the corporate bottom line, and I'm sorry you had to see it all up-close-and-personal.

    Writers should be able to spend their time writing...not counting bandages, fighting to get a decent meal, and dealing with bill collectors.

  13. I have been a lurker her for some time, but until now never felt the need to comment. Don't get me wrong, there are massive problems with the system, particularly for the uninsured.

    What I take issue with is this idea of doctors as Wall Street-like materialists in white coats. I know its what the media portrays and everybody has a story about this one doctor, but trust me that the vast majority really are there to help others and not themselves. News flash, its not doctors - its HMOs and corporate lobbists.

    Most doctors are good people working in a bad system and are even less happy then everyone else because we see on a daily basis many people screwed by the system. Yes, there are bad doctors, and yes even good ones can be difficult. But if you want customer service from someone in the ER that has been working for 36 hours, clearly you have lost perspective.

    I went to medical school because I am a science geek and have a sense of community service, not because I want a Porsche. Hell I can barely afford my pull list.

  14. Three words Val: (And this goes for any other American readers too)


    We love you as a people but most of us are terrified even to visit you for fear of something similar happening to us while in your country.

    And your government should be in a state of constant shame that your health care system is the horror story of the civilized world.

    And as an aside, when are you doing your eBay auction? I think you will be surprised by what your readership will do to help you out given the opportunity.

  15. Hey all,

    I will have the auction up in a few days. Last weekend was taken up mostly by post-SDCC house-cleaning (mandatory) and writing my comic.

    See, that's how I know I'm a professional writer now.

    "Today looks beautiful, want to go to the beach?"

    "Nope, I have to write."

    "You can write at the beach."

    "No, I really can't."

  16. Turning over the health care system to the government is not the answer. It wouldn't be "free", and I don't fee like paying for other people's healthcare.

    No one can be turned away from medical care. Not possible.

    You want free medical care - that's easy. Go to the emergency room @ 10 at night and act like you don't speak any english.

  17. Rick, I hear what you're saying about getting health insurance at one's job, and it's a good point.

    It's just that I know several people who stay at jobs they hate because they need the health insurance. And I'm wondering if there is a better way.

    The other side of things is when you have insurance but the insurance company won't pay for your treatment. That's horrifying. Because you think -- "okay, I've made the sacrifice and am working at this 9-to-5 office job, but at least I'll be covered." And then the insurance company won't cover you. And you're like -- why did I buy into this?!

  18. Hi Wax,

    I did't mean this post to be a dump on doctors in general. It's more of an institutional critique on hospitals and the whole system. Individual doctors didn't decide to charge surgery patients for bandages to soak up their residual bleeding. Some dipshit behind a desk did, and he or she might not even have been a doctor. There was some dipshit who made the decision that patients had to be charged for their bandages -- on a bandage-by-bandage basis. In fact, I think a real doctor would not have even made that decision. Changing bandages regularly reduces the chance of infection and bacteria. Making patients feel that they shouldn't ask for fresh bandages would seem counter-productive.

    But the system that discouraged the use of a blood transfusion for me after several nurses and one doctor after-the-fact said I desperately needed one -- that system is broken. And it's not the fault of doctors. It's the fault of a system that wants to save money. And I even understand the need by a hospital to want to save money...up until the point where I go into heart failure because I don't have enough blood in my body. Which, according to the nurses who were monitoring my vitals, said I was dangerously close to suffering from. According to my doctor, I was about 15 minutes from completely bleeding to death. Before the surgery, I passed out from lack of blood. What other situation do you need to find a reason to pump blood into some poor bastard?

  19. mengbloom, in no way is the NHS perfect.

    Yes you pay with taxation. But the taxation costs much less than the equivalent in health insurance per person. It is great value for money.

    And the waiting list problem has been tackled dramatically in the last ten years. If you have a serious condition, you don't wait. And for less serious conditions, the waiting is weeks, not months.

    I have never said it's a Utopia. It's a system. And I wouldn't swap.

  20. Val- I am absolutely in no way dismissing your complaints, hell I agree with you. And I am truly saddened by your experience

    While not necessarily meeting the qualifications for malpractice, your experience clearly demonstrates a failure in the system. Whether it was due to miscommunication (fancy computer systems do little to help this actually) or simply treatment that did not meet a certain level of care that all patients deserve, who knows.

    I do believe that hospitals are being run as for profit businesses under the guise of health care. Hydra would have run of the Marvel universe if they had thought of it first. The business end of health care nickle and dimes people to death. I am well aware of this after an MRI earlier this year, and I have insurance through the same god damn hospital.

    But hospitals are not McDonalds with the price of every thing on display, where the customs pick out what they want, nor should they be. Doctors do consider the cost, but only second to the treatment of the patient. I cannot describe how stressful that can be on us to have to way those decisions. I wish I knew how to fix that...

  21. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Hey all,

    I just wanted to send good wishes to the OS, and add something that I think is often critically absent from health care discussions in the US and Canada, and that is this:

    Most countries have health care systems different from both the US and Canada. We're at two extremes. Canada actually bans private insurance and punishes many private/for profit initiatives. You can have everyone covered if the need it, but still give others the option for private insurance in a private system. I believe that's the case in the UK (and I imagine everyone still complains), and I think in a great many comparable countries around the world.

    There are other options, don't get caught in a false policy dilemna.

    Also: US governments spend waaaaaay more on health care than Canada does--I'm just talking about government spending, never mind what employers and citizens pay on top of that, and what comes from charitable donations.

    Sure you may get better or nicer care, on average in the US, if you have a job and are insured, but you're still paying more through taxes than a Canadian would into the system.

    Any way you slice it, you guys are getting ripped off by your current system.

  22. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Sometimes I am amazed.

    Since I am a swede I pay 30.5 % tax where I live (I am not well paid enough to have to pay state tax yet). For that I have cheap health care and cheap medicine.

    Our system works as following: We are guaranteed that we will never have to pay more than about 260 dollars or so per year for medicine. We do not have to pay more than about 200 for doctor's fees. The first bits we pay for are full price, so people that only needs a little medical care pay that. The more care you need, the more subsidized it gets, until it hits the limit so it's free. Also, you can get this done with a monthly payment of about 20 dollars.

    Today I actually had to get a doctor's appointment for my feet, which has become infected with something (no details, it is disgusting). I couldn't get a time until Friday, but since this was an emergency, but not enough of one to go to the emergency office, the nurse will get back to me early tomorrow morning and give me one of the emergency appointments they give out each day. This will cost me about 10 dollars.

    The thing that amazes me most about all this is that people say that they don't want to pay for other people's health care. Where is the hempathy? The thing is, we are all in this together. I am happy to pay for other people's health care and social security and everything, not just because I feel that this is the right thing to do.

    No, mainly it is because I might have to (and has in the past) use it myself. That is what a community is all about, lessening the blow to the individual. We all have times in our lives when we are on the down and out and have to be dependent on others. Just because you are less fortunate in whom you are born to, doesn't mean you should be treated that much worse.

    We also get lower health care costs, lower costs for medicine since the companies are competing for the lowest price (we only get the cheapest variant subsidized, if we want a brand-name thing we need to pay the difference ourselves).

    The Swedish system is far from perfect. Our nurses are underpaid compared to Norway or Denmark, we don't educate enough doctors so we have to import from abroad, and there are long lines for many non-life threatening illnesses (like needing a replacement him when you're old). But I never have to worry about getting in debt here, and if I get seriously ill, it will be dealt with adequately.

    I feel safe. I don't have to worry.

    Now, if dental was the same I'd be a happy person...

  23. I've had some experiences with Beth Israel myself. All I can say is that it brings to mind those old X-Men covers: "Welcome to Beth Israel. Hope you survive the experience." I commend you for surviving.

    My other hospital horror story is my son's. I had to take him to the ER when he was about 9 months old because his foot ballooned and turned black after a surgery. The ER demanded proof of insurance before they would treat him. Then, once they admitted him and began treatment, they told me they didn't accept our insurance. Three months later: collection hell. Luckily, his surgeon eventually stood up for us and had the ER charges forgiven, but there was no excuse for that kind of behavior.

    At the end of the day, my son lost half his foot and three toes, and the insurance company and hospital wanted me to pay for the privilege.

    I thought I paid into insurance to cover that kind of crap. I guess I should just be happy I'm making the insurance company rich, and leave my expectations at that.

    And while I hope you don't have to sue them, IF you do, take those bastards at Beth Israel for all they're worth.

  24. As a physician, and an ER physician at that, I found this to be a disheartening thread.

    I make medical decisions based on what the patient needs first, not with insurance in mind. And my guess, not knowing the full details of your case, is that the physicians there did the same.

    They assessed you and rushed you to the operating room for life-saving surgery. They did not try other cost-saving manuveurs first ... they saved you. I am sure that the cost of the OR and the surgery was the biggest item on the bill and that was done right away, without a thought of your ability to pay.

    So to think that blood was withheld because of cost concerns seems like the hospital would be 'penny wise pound foolish.'

    Maybe that doctor really didn't think you needed blood. Maybe he was worried that the risk of exposure to blood products at that point was greater than the benefit. Doctors and nurses disagree about things all the time. What if he gave the blood and it proved unnecessary and they billed you? Would the complaint then be they gauged you on the bill with unnecessary therapies?

    And for the other doctor to say he was shocked after the fact ... well in medicine the retrospectoscope is always 20/20.

    Listen, I know there are issues with medicine in this country. But to throw hard-working physicians who are truly working in the patient's best interest under the bus thinking we are keeping a running bill tally in our minds seems cruel. I never put the cost before care of the patient.

    But it is threads and discussions like these that make me wonder why I chose the vocation of medicine at all. It would be easier, I would get more respect, and I would make a ton more money in finances.

  25. It wouldn't be "free", and I don't fee like paying for other people's healthcare.

    Do you have insurance? If so, then you're paying for other people's healthcare.

  26. Best wishes Val, and congrats on the writing gig!!!

    I'd been uninsured (2006-2008) after dropping out of college due to issues with mental illness. I only recently got on my state's health care plan. It was a long process full of paperwork-fueled difficulties. I'm sure it was nowhere near as painful as your experience. I write in sympathy and solidarity.

  27. Hi, for some reason the donation paypal doesn't let you leave a message so I'll copy and paste all I had to say here:

    I'm sorry all I donated was so little, student funds and all, but what I really wanted to say was why, I've been reading your blog for a long time (and before that I literally read every back post) and your probably one of the most inspirational people I've ever, well met is not exactly the right word, but come across will have to do for now.

    I really look forward to all your entries, hearing your opinion. Is it possible to idolize someone online, hang on that sounded fairly creepy, but what I mean is that your an amazing role model, everything you've achieved, I hope someday I can affect the industry like you have :)

    I hope you manage to pay the money, and this entry itself was an eye opener on the american healthcare (I'm English, and perhaps I take our NHS for granted)

  28. And I'd like to follow that last comment by the hugest apology for online fangirling, if it was possible to blush over the internet, believe me I am!

  29. Anonymous10:08 PM

    One other thing occurred to me.

    For those in the states who want to move for a change in the health regime: universal health care came through here in Canada starting with one province.

    I don't know if it would work down there, but maybe you could get more momentum at the state level, where the big economic, security, senility and secret Muslim issues are less likely to overshadow the matter.

    Also, I am quite excited about this Cloak and Dagger project. Do you have the rights to use Dabney Coleman's likeness?

  30. Stay strong, put up the good fight and get out of debt to pursue your dream! Fight the power.

  31. The main problem with today's US health care system is a fact that nobody disputes; that it is driven not so much by professional ethics, but by market ethics that leaves price, availability, and distribution of health care to the commodity market place. Some people do not like it, others are just fine with it. But that's the situation, and one effect of this is that it can, in certain cases, strain the relationship between patients and physicians --- patients, when they see themselves not getting the best treatment, suspects that it is money; physicians, when faced with such an accusation, lament why patients do not understand their profession, or feel underappreciated for the best they try to do in a system they do not necessary like.
    I fear that part of this thread is a prime example of such mistrust and the current HC system in which most nobody is happy, respected, and treated with dignity.
    I believe basic social and health needs should not be left to market force or principle. So how can it be changed for better? There are tons of people giving tons of answers, actually. But one obvious thing to me is that as long as patients and physicians find themselves suspecting each other of ulterior motives and ignorance, the course of "reform" will be decided by those with invested interests in the way it is.
    is that it can, in certain cases, strain the relationship between patients and physicians --- patients, when they see themselves not getting the best treatment, suspects that it is money; physicians, when faced with such an accusation, lament why patients do not understand their profession, or feel underappreciated for the best they try to do in a system they do not necessary like.
    I fear that part of this thread is a prime exemple of such mistrust and the current HC system in which most nobody is happy, respected, and treated with dignity.
    I believe basic social and health needs shoudl not be left to market force or principle. So how can it be changed for better? There are tons of people giving tons of answers, actually. But one obvious thing to me is that as long as patients and physicians find themselves suspecting each other of ultelior motives and ignorance, the course of "reform" will be decided by those with invested interests in the way it is.

  32. It wouldn't be "free", and I don't fee like paying for other people's healthcare.
    Do you have insurance? If so, then you're paying for other people's healthcare.
    I also pay for my insurance. I pay voluntarily, just the same as every other member of my GHI.

    I don't get a choice when Uncle Sam comes calling.

  33. Just to say I'm glad that the system in most of Europ is based on solidarity. I've never been in hospital in my whole life (i'm 38) but I'm glad to pay higher taxes and a reasonable amount for insurance to be sure I'll never be in debt for an operation.

  34. i still like my ideas better than the auction

  35. Quick Facts, 16% of the American GDP is used to pay for medical care, which is more than any other country.

    The amount of money spent in the United States for Health is over 500 billions dollars a year.

    The United States are ranked 27th country (after most of industrialized countries) on Infant Mortality and 23rd on Life Expectancy. The United States are ranked 52nd on overall medical quality.

    France is ranked way higher than the united states in each of these.

    In France, my actual gross income is 21600 Euros a year, 19.6% of that is social taxes, and I pay national taxes yearly, which amounts to approximately 10% of what I'm left with.

    These taxes cover for health coverage, road infrastructure, retirement, unemployement, education (public university is at most 300 euros a year, private school are up to 6000 euros a year).

    I've never waited more than 2 hours in any E.R.. I've never seen anybody sent home 3 days after a heavy cardiac intervention, while the patient was unable to take care of himself, for the reason that it was not covered by his insurance. I actually pay 1 euro each time I go to the doctor. I don't have to pay for my medication if I do not insist for brands, and if that is the case I only pay the difference between the brand and generic medication.

    My insurance (to allow more coverage on dental and optic charges) costs me 35 euros each month. Nobody has ever been refused insurance because of medical history.

  36. I enjoy this thread!

    I am lucky that I have health insurance. But because I have a pre-existing condition, I can never go without an employer plan, or I would not be covered at all.

    I have had many difficulties with my insurance. One of them was within the past six months. I was on the birth control pill for years. My doctor thought I should get an IUD instead. My insurance refused to pay for it.

    But because I live in California, and because California gives free birth control (including IUDs) to people, they were able to sneak me in that way, and I got it for free.

    Right now I am fighting a charge for my husband. He had a colonoscopy. Apparently the DOCTOR was on the plan but the FACILITY was not. WTF?

    So yes, there is change happening at the state level. That doesn't change the fact that medicine is, first and foremost, a business.

    And as for those people complaining about state-sponsored health care, long waits, and denial of certain services? You just described your standard HMO plan that is provided by a lot of employers.

    I'd rather have a free HMO plan sponsored by the state than be stuck where I am right now. I have to work a full time job during the day and write at night. I have no other option. I can't start my own business, I can't do side work or contract work that would pay more and allow me more time to write, because I would then have no insurance.

  37. "And as for those people complaining about state-sponsored health care, long waits, and denial of certain services? You just described your standard HMO plan that is provided by a lot of employers."

    this is true. When I had insurance, I remember going to a doctor's waiting room in Manhattan that was like a cattle call. And when I finally got to talk to the doctor, she literally took 15 minutes with me. And then the insurance company sent me a note that they wouldn't pay for the visit. And then I fought with them and just gave up and paid it because I was sick of these bills coming to my house.

  38. "I can't start my own business, I can't do side work or contract work that would pay more and allow me more time to write, because I would then have no insurance."

    The fact that there are so many people in this situation, or who feel that they hate their jobs but need the insurance, is disheartening.

    If it really is a fact of life in this society that we just have to accept -- let's be honest about it. Let's just recognize that there are people essentially blackmailed into one type of employment option because of the way our health system is set up.

  39. "And I'd like to follow that last comment by the hugest apology for online fangirling, if it was possible to blush over the internet, believe me I am!"

    thanks, Charlotte. :-)

  40. Hi... forgive me if I do not know all the facts, but just as an added perspective, why were you not insured to begin with?

    You do not seem like a person who could not have afforded some form of insurance... I mean buying comics & pop culture items is not exactly essential, but insurance is & should have been bought the minute you were earning... Again, please forgive me if I do not know all the facts... just wondering here...

  41. "Hi... forgive me if I do not know all the facts, but just as an added perspective, why were you not insured to begin with?"

    well, I was insured when I was working at DC Comics. I sought treatment for medical issues related to my job, and that treatment ended up making me far sicker than I was originally. I ended up being too sick to work & exhausted my health leave. I was offered one month of extra health insurance in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement before I left the job, but I turned that down.

    So I had no job, no health insurance, dwindling funds, and I was still seriously ill. I was close to applying for disability. But I managed to bring my health back, and almost qualified for health insurance at the part time job I was working at when this accident happened. So I basically built myself back from a crisis only to have another one happen. Which was, as you can imagine, one of those "does God hate me?" moments.

  42. Jesus, Val. I didn't realize this story actually got more horrific.

    Right now, I'm on the verge of quitting a job that I took for health coverage about four years ago. About a year ago - with one day's notice - all of the employees went from being fully covered to having to contribute. One day's notice. For me, this was fine, as I make little enough money that my contribution is minimal.

    But if I get a raise this year, I'm over the salary ceiling for minimal contribution, and it will cost as much as getting my own independent coverage - over ten times as much as I'm paying right now. So fuck that. I'll stay healthy or move to Toronto.

    Thing is, the problem with the U.S. healthcare system almost defintely would NOT be solved by handing it to the gov't. We're a capitalist country, the whole system is run primarily as a corporation and the system is broken. Maybe not beyond repair, but there are myriad larger problems that need to be fixed before health care can even be considered.

    Don't forget that the U.S. government doesn't give a crap about anyone who isn't obscenely wealthy (and even that's debatable). Here's a metaphor:

    Imagine that United States is high school. 85% of the student body are the unpopular kids, 15% are the "in" crowd, and 3% of the "in" crowd are the REALLY popular kids in the student government who make the decisions.

    Those are the kids who run everything, and their great idea for fixing everything is, say, putting ALL of the activity fee cash into the giant football game against their big, rival high school. Well, they have the power, and they only talk to their buddies in the popular clique who are on, or LOVE, the football team. Who's going to say no? No one who matters. So they do it. And they do the same thing for cheerleading, and soccer, and cross country.

    But 85% of the student body fucking hates sports.

    These are the people in charge of us. I wouldn't trust them to wash my car, let alone run my country. Ah well. Maybe once you get that bill paid off we can start a revolution fund. I have a green hat like Castro's. That's all I need, right?

    Aaaanyway, I've heard enough horror stories about insurance companies from medical professionals to have sympathy even for their plight. Insurance in general is really just capitalizing on fear anyway - fear that I'll get sick, fear that I'll crash my car, that I'll die, etc. It's creepy, it's predatory, and it's really the most useless thing ever. If we all stop buying it - which might happen anyway because we can all barely afford it anymore - then it will stop existing. End of story.

    You know what my solution is? Pet a kitten. Good for the soul.

  43. That long-ass post was compliments of Kevin Colden, BTW.


  44. As a Canadian, universal health care is not the solution. It's not free, it is bancrupting the country. Sure you don't have to pay up front, but you might die in the waiting lines! My father in law waited 2 years to get cataract surgery. Any first appointment with a specialist can take 6 months to a year just to get in the door. It is ridiculous however to charge for every bandaid you use, that's like a restaurant charging for every napkin you use or fork that needs replacing....sheesh.