Saturday, November 15, 2008

Universal means "one size fits all"

All right, all right, McCain lost. I can deal with that, it's not like I was in love with the guy, I'm just way more okay with a moderate republican than I am with a borderline socialist, so I'm a little perturbed. I'm not partisan enough that I can't appreciate the magnitude of electing the first African-American President and be grateful our country has come this far. I may wish it had come far enough to elect an African-American with something more substantial than oozing charisma to recommend him for the most important job in the world, but politics has always been a student council election on steroids, so I'm not surprised at the outcome. As my Grandpa used to say "If wishes were fishes, we'd all have a fry."
Yeah, I don't really get it either, but it seemed to fit--it has the word wishes in it.
In fact, I could have moved on with my life without saying much about the election at all if I hadn't found an obnoxious letter to the new President in my Parenting magazine for November. When I first read it, the election hadn't happened yet, so I wasn't too worried, but now that we have someone in office who might actual pitch the nauseatingly short-sighted, bleeding-heart but impossible-to-fund agenda in there, I've got to say something.
The letter claimed to be a parents' wishlist for the new president. It was mostly the usual "world the children" stuff that any self-respecting Miss America hopeful can recite in three languages, but one point really jumped out at me. It said to hurry up and get a Universal Health care plan in place. It would save all the uninsured children! Hurry up, Mr. President, save the children! Don't you care about the children!?
Excuse me, but I'm a parent, and the last thing I want is Universal Health care. I agree that something needs to be done to make health care more affordable for families, and that someone does need to help uninsured children. I'm not sure how to handle the logistics of it to keep people from riding the dole, but I do know it isn't the kids' fault if the parents don't have insurance, for whatever reason. I know the kids are the ones suffering, just like the kids are the ones suffering when parents choose to sit at home catching up on soaps and collecting welfare rather than working, or bring home a new "daddy" every three months, or when parents do any of the bonehead things they sometimes do. I do care about the children. It's because I care that I am opposed to Universal Health care.
I know to most people who don't know a lot about it, and the many "spread the wealthers" out there, it sounds like this: "Universal Health care means health care for everyone, hallelujah! We are all saved, and my skin will clear up like magic, and my puppy will come home, and my Dad will finally give me the approval I crave." It, like our new President-elect, will fix all our problems. Here's the trick. You're missing two vital words. The same. Universal Health care really means the same health care for everyone. Still sound good to you? Yeah, it probably does, equality and all of that. Equality isn't what I mean, however, and I will illustrate it for you from experience.
My mother emigrated from Canada when she was 19 years old, and half of her family still lives there. First things first, quit your giggling, it is possible to "emigrate" from Canada, and that's the proper word, it just sounds dumb because they're right next door. Second, you didn't know this about me because being half-Canadian isn't something I like to brag about, but now you've all solved the mystery of how someone who lived in the Valley of the Sun since she was a year old can have a skin tone middling between corpse and fish belly. Let's all drop it and move on.
My grandparents still live in Canada, where they have been plagued by health problems for the past decade or so. Because of this, I could probably write a thesis on why Universal Health care is the pits, but I will just stick to one example to prove my point.
About 10 years ago, my grandmother fell and broke her humerus. For those of you not addicted to medical dramas, that's the bone between the elbow and shoulder. It's a big bone and there aren't any other bones around to steady it. Nannie got to ride in an ambulance down to the happy Canadian hospital to get it fixed. The doctors decided to stick her arm in a sling. Now, I may not have followed through on that whole medical school thing, but I know a couple of things here: 1) When a 60-something-year-old woman breaks her arm just falling down (as opposed to riding the half-pipe on her skateboard like a 16-year-old two beds over), it's possible, nay, likely, that her bone density isn't exactly what it used to be, 2) this hypothesis can be proved by the place in her medical records where it states explicitly that she has osteoporosis (in other words, her bones are brittle and prone to breakage). I also know that sticking said osteroporotic arm in a sling probably isn't going to do jack squat to heal on its own. But that's what the Canadian doctors did. They gave an elderly woman with bone disease the same exact treatment they would give to the 16-year-old daredevil. The same treatment they'd probably give a wiggly 4-year-old whose bones would regrow and crooked on top of it without a cast. Then they set a follow-up appointment for a month later.
Thirty days go by and Nannie goes back in to the doctor only to get an X-ray and be told that her arm is exactly as broken as the day she fell. Fancy that! "Exactly as broken" you're saying the weak bone with regeneration issues that wasn't even steadied well in the first place didn't step up to the plate, kick that nasty density problem, and fix itself?! How rude?! I'll bet the 16-year-old was in better shape, because his bones know when to be a team player. Nannie had to go in and have a huge surgery with I don't know how many pins put in her arm.
Yes, she would have needed the surgery anyway, but she certainly didn't need to be in pain every time she bumped her poorly-set arm for a month prior.
So, why did they treat her the same way as a patient with an entirely different medical history? Universal health care, baby, the same health care for everybody. Translation: Doctors have no reason whatsoever to make individual patients happy or healthy. They don't get paid on performance, only quantity. They get paid lousy rates by the government no matter how wonderful they are at their job, which means they have no incentive to be wonderful. They are overbooked, which is why it takes them a month to get around to seeing the poor elderly woman with the busted limb again, or it takes them two weeks after the results come back to call and tell you that you have cancer (but that's another story for another day). Don't tell me it's free or "you get what you pay for" either, because after over 40+ years of paying downright exorbitant taxes, they certainly aren't getting it for free, nor are they getting what they paid for.
So, with all due respect to the pageant queens at Parenting, I'm a parent too, and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure that we don't end up with Universal Health Care. Find another way. Find a better way. Because I want Sam's doctors, and my doctors, and Daniel's doctors, and your doctors, to give a flying fig about what they're doing, and to treat the patient as differently as they need to be treated in order to be cured. I want their paygrade to hinge on doing their job properly, and I want them know that I will sue them if they slap my brittle-boned grandparent in a sling and leave her there for a month. Because I want my family to get good medical care, not just any medical care.
"One size fits all" has no place in the Hippocratic oath.
And that's one thing that I'm sure you probably feel the same about too.


jaime said...

bravo. well said. and amen.

Natalie said...

Amen Carly!

The Funmaker said...

Million dollar quote:

"but now you've all solved the mystery of how someone who lived in the Valley of the Sun since she was a year old can have a skin tone middling between corpse and fish belly"