BLAAAHH!!!! Blaah blaaah blaaaaHHH!!!

The Public Option doesn’t go far enough. There should be 100% coverage for all citizens and residents under a tax-funded socialized medical system. Health care is like water treatment, childhood education, police protection, and fire departments: one of the responsibilities of a civilized society. More: it is a human right.

But what about all the inefficiencies and paperwork of a government-run bureaucracy? Another good point — I’ve got to fill out three forms every time I turn on the tap. Oh, wait a second — I don’t have to do that at all, because it’s a government service paid for by taxes. I also don’t have to present my fire insurance card before the firemen get to work on the building burning down around me. Health-care related paperwork is largely an artifact of the insurance companies, who would be out of the picture in a socialized system.

In fairness I’ll give the republican town-hall-crashers a chance to rebut: “BLAAAHH!!!! Blaah blaaah blaaaaHHH!!!” This is such a depressing commentary on the state of political discourse in this country, and reflects how far the party of Lincoln has fallen. It is now quite clear that the GOP is a cadre of corporate stooges, cynical to the core and disdainful of their constituents. The rural poor get screwed repeatedly and then wave a flag and vote for the guy who did the deed*. Baffling.

Here’s how health care in America should work: I cut off my hand by accident. I put the hand in the fridge, call 911, and pass out. I wake up as paramedics scan my implant and check the on-board medical history with the file they download from the secure government server. It’s a match, and now they know that I’m allergic to aspirin and Fentanyl, have borderline high blood pressure, have a standing DNR and organ-donation request in the event of persistent vegetative state, and that my next of kin is reachable by mobile phone. Not present is my insurance ID number, because I don’t need one.

The dispatcher calls Nancy while the field tech gets the hand from the fridge. Unfortunately he doesn’t realize that the concord grape sorbet was only in the fridge to soften up a bit, so it’s completely melted when I get back from the hospital.

They load me up with a type-matched transfusion (they know my blood type from the chip) on the way to the hospital. The monitors in the ambulance are synched real-time with a case file that has been opened at the hospital, and an operating room is waiting when we pull in to the emergency bay.

The anesthesiologist has been monitoring my vitals remotely during the ride, and she’s ready with appropriate dosages of all the fun stuff. I chuckle the whole way down and wake up after what seems like only a few seconds. It’s tomorrow, and my hand is reattached.

After a few days in the hospital we have a consultation to see how much longer I should stay. There have been regular MRIs to check the healing process. The doctor thinks I should stay for another week and do PT in the hospital. Nancy and I want to get out of there as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of infection. Our appointed Patient Advocate understands both points of view, and we collectively agree on three more days, with daily visits from the physical therapist at home for the next three weeks, and weekly for six months thereafter. I’ll have checkups at an outpatient clinic near my apartment every three days, scheduled around my workday. Any numbness, redness, sudden swelling, or anything that seems off — call 911 and the reattachment specialists will be automatically contacted once I give my name or my chip is scanned.

Three days later I go through the discharge process: I go to central processing, put my implant against the plate, and my updated history is downloaded to the chip. A sheet is printed out with a description of the meds I need to take and the contact info for the various follow-up doctors, nurses, and adjunct care professionals. Then three plastic bottles of pills drop into the slot, sort of like a soda machine. My first month of prescriptions have been filled, and the next month’s order will be automatically processed and sent in the mail three weeks later.

After 18 long months of recovery I have regained about 75% of the function of the hand — better than nothing, and they think it will continue to improve over the next few years. Then I get a bill from the hospital. I open it with dread, thinking about that long stay immediately after reattachment. Sure enough, there it is: the charges for the pay-per-view movies.

Thirty bucks. Damn.

–Steve Kilian

*I know this is a crass generalization, and that there are plenty of principled people who vote for republicans for a variety of reasons, but I’m all worked up and furious. Probably weakens my argument, but I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind anyway.

Let’s Get Sick

Myths of Health Care Turned Into Lies

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