It was with both empathy and anger that I read Nick Welsh’s Injured Poodle column last week. Empathy because I too am still paying off a surgery bill from 2010 – despite my multiple insurance policies. I also have a $1,300 emergency room bill after cutting my arm open in December. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate paying for health care and I appreciate the top-notch treatment we might get in this country if we can afford it or are strategically insured for the particular incident. But I do not appreciate: the health care distribution inequality, the duplication of so many policies, the inconvenience to doctors dealing with these plans, the fact that many of my uninsured clients and friends will still not have any health coverage after Obamacare is implemented; and the record profits health insurance companies have reported throughout this recession. Did I mention the anger?
I was already angry this week after watching a webinar about the upcoming insurance exchange. The federal government will have to assist lower- and middle-income folks in buying insurance plans – which means billions of our tax dollars going to private health insurance companies who pay exorbitant CEO salaries and dividends in addition to paying for some health care – but not my surgery three years ago or my emergency room visit in December. When can we get a single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all style health-care financing system, one that we all pay for and all access fairly?
Shannon Miller is the chair of Health Care for All - California