Off to the Land of Glory

Need to see the doctor?  Good luck.  As the newest iteration of an inadequate healthcare bill vanishes with a small “pop!” in the echoing halls of Congress, you may wish to take stock of your options.

After years of office conversations with older women or, now, women my age, I have come to the conclusion that human beings were meant to die right around the age of 60.  The fact that we no longer do that, at least in developed countries, has provided for a long old age loaded with potholes and financial booby traps, all designed to drain our bank accounts.

We are back to where we started:  that is seriously considering robbing a bank or selling ourselves to the circus because Mom needs an operation.  This was a plot device often seen in movies back in the day.  The audience never blinked an eye because everyone, sooner or later, had a mother who needed an operation.  The technology was there, the hospital was there, but the money wasn’t.  No money, no operation.  Mom did without, probably dying at home of whatever treatable condition it was right around her 65th year.

So, if the Republicans can get their act together and finally fulfill their strident campaign promises, they may actually repeal the wounded Affordable Care Act altogether.  That, dear readers, takes us right back to about 2009.  How old were you in 2009?  About ten years younger than you are now.  I’ll bet you’ve discovered some health problems along the way or, God forbid, had or fathered a baby.  Good thing you got that out of the way – there’s no way insurance is paying for anybody’s baby.

So, if Congress has its way, we will be blessedly free to die at home of perfectly treatable conditions for which we cannot afford medical care.  The problem with this sort of thinking is that it’s a bit like going back in time, if that were possible. It’s a very compelling idea, that you go back, knowing what you know now, and unmake all those mistakes you made.  It’s Congressional wish fulfillment: we will go back in time, wiser, more knowledgeable, and we will chose the right path this time.

What will that path be?  To not get sick? To not start a family? To start exercising regularly and go on that stupid diet? To give up smoking?  Or, we could start living like there’s no tomorrow and run off the road somewhere in a blaze of drunken glory.

Congress is good at mass delusion; it may think it has foxed the ACA, but the need that prompted the ACA is still there.  The constituents who voted for these guys, all yelling about how the nanny state should stay out of their affairs, will pull up to the ER on the verge of death, without insurance (because who needs insurance?), and will be treated.  The hospital’s finance office will then wrangle at least $100 out of somebody in the party (there goes that prescription you were supposed to get) and will send them on their merry way. The bill that follows will drive them into instant bankruptcy.

After 60 days of ignoring these bills that come regularly in the mail, they will get to know the hospital’s collection agency very well.  Now they are not only sick but they are bankrupt as well.  Thrown into poverty, they ask for state aid, better known as Medicaid, only to be put on a waiting list that is longer than their projected life span.  Republicans, after all, don’t believe in Medicaid; it’s just a handout for slackers and people who refuse to work.

Medicaid, of course, was one of the elements that made the ACA work.  It also turned out to be the ACA’s Achilles heel, because it is up to each individual state to figure out how much Medicaid is available.   Next year, when people have had a chance to live without health insurance of any sort, and the hospital systems have had a chance to go back to dunning the bankrupt for money, someone is surely bound to declare that we need a reasonably priced health insurance system that actually serves the population.

Until then, should you develop a life threatening condition, I suggest you stick to your proverbial guns and die at home, just like Mom did all those years ago, slipping gently off to the land of glory and eternal spring.  Don’t expect any help; that’s for slackers and those who refuse to work.  We’re Republicans, after all, the salt of the American Earth, the great glory of this country; we’re the example of right living.

We’re also, unfortunately, dead.  As for the funeral expenses, that’s a whole ‘nother story.




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