This past month, my health insurance company raised premiums across the board 34%. And this in the face of front page news about the desperate condition of both American health care and our economy. 34%! There was a time when purveyors of crimes like that were tarred and feathered.
Having had enough, I dutifully wrote to my Congressman, Henry Waxman; my Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; my State Senator, Fran Pavley; and my State Assemblyman Mike Feuer. Pavley and Feuer, at least, sent back a form letter. I'm still waiting to hear from the other three.
They'll be waiting a long time for my vote the next time they run for office. It's do or die time. And that goes for President Obama too. With a huge majority in Congress, the Democrats are already making noise about giving in once more to their sugar daddies in the insurance business. Why, then, did any of us vote for these fools?
The real terror in your life
We've spent seven years and a trillion dollars chasing terrorists. Yet, the damage these terrorists inflicted upon us on 9/11 pales in comparison to the toll our lack of adequate health care inflicts on our population every year. The odds of you being harmed in any way by a terrorist are minuscule. On the other hand, your lack of adequate health care will very likely kill you.
Recently, a good friend of mine was told he needs tests to determine if a lesion on his kidney might be cancerous. He can't afford the test. This is not a guy who's spent his life laying on his couch, mooching off of others. He didn't just creep over the border to take advantage of our wonderful American public services. He worked his whole life but now cannot find a job so he cannot afford health insurance. As a result, his life is in jeopardy.
Bureaucrats versus bean counters
Many of us who can afford insurance are not a whole lot better off. As we watch our premiums climb, many avoid yearly checkups for fear that something will turn up that will raise their premiums or make it difficult to switch coverage. Insurance companies routinely reject people and procedures. Those who worry about Washington bureaucrats overseeing their health decisions are already at the mercy of far greedier insurance company executives and accountants. I know someone who was turned down for coverage because they were on heartburn medication. Imagine being turned down for a condition that could have been treated by a roll of Tums!
In this climate, small medical problems grow into enormous ones that impact our system in a far harsher way than they would if everyone got proper care at an early stage. Health care is too important to be a major profit center for any corporation. Sure, insurance and drug companies are entitled to reasonable profits. But when their greed causes the unnecessary deaths of thousands every year, then they have crossed the line into criminal extortion.
Time for action
Politicians need to reign in the out of control insurance companies and other medical providers. That the state of California lets an insurer raise rates by 34% in one year tells you something about the quality of legislators in this state and where their loyalties lie.
Congress must provide for a national public option for health care. They must see that every American can have access to the same kind of coverage the politicians already enjoy. If they give in once again to the lobbyists; if they once more put their big corporate donors' needs before the needs of the American public, then we must throw them out of office and start again. That includes Obama. It's time to get angry. It's time to take this to the streets. Our lives are at stake.
Update - Since writing this article I have heard back from Rep. Henry Waxman. In his message, he assured me that he was working hard for health care reform and that he had been working for better health care his entire career. I appreciated hearing this but didn't leave it at that. I wrote back to thank him for his efforts and to say that he must know better than anyone that we haven't gotten very far and that the time is now. Results are what matter. Stay after your representatives. Make sure they're working for you. And, although I've been tough on the Democrats here, it's worth pointing out that Republicans are lined up against a public care option. There's only one reason for this. Their corporate donors are more important to them than their constituents. Let them know how you feel.
Update # 2 - Just got a phone call from the state assemblyman's office.