Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me

Here I am, 48 years old today.
Forty-eight years into a life that has been in no way spectacular, but in many ways interesting and rewarding.
I'm also 20 years into marriage, 14 years into parenthood, 2 years into my current job, 12 years on my current career path.


I went to the dentist today, and was told that I am, literally, long in the tooth. My gums are receding so that more and more of the tooth is visible.
The dentist has recommended a procedure which he believes is necessary for preservation of my teeth. The cost is $100 a tooth. The insurance company says it is a cosmetic procedure and they will not pay for any part of it.
A small, small tale in the annals of health insurance, but just the sort of detail to drive me around the bend on that issue. In the recent presidential campaign, Carol Moseley Braun was the only candidate brave and foolish enough to support a single-payer healthcare system. While Ms. Braun was in many ways a terrible candidate -- and was a terrible senator before that -- I thank God that at least one person in the political arena spoke out about the need for a fundamental change in the way that health care is funded and delivered in this country.
The US healthcare system is, simply, an outrage.
The insurance companies and HMO's have put clerical staff in charge of our healthcare decisions.
Only those working-age people fortunate enough to have jobs that provide healthcare insurance, or private fortunes can afford to see a doctor.
Children are being punished, by denial of treatment, when their parents have committed the "sin" of poverty.
And yet our political leaders tell us we have the finest healthcare system in the world, and warn us of the horrors of "socialized medicine".
Horrors, schmorrors. I have lived in the United Kingdom, and been a recipient of "socialized medicine," and I can tell you it was a damned sight better than what I get here.
The doctor's offices weren't filled with plush furniture and cheesy artwork that matched the upholstery, but I received the treatment I needed without delay or question, and never saw a bill or a piece of paperwork after I filled out my initial personal health profile.
It was a dream come true.
Today at the dentist, I was ordered to fill out a set of forms that I have filled out with exactly the same information year after year. Could I just point out changes? No. They need new forms.
I made them illegible and incomplete, just to be ornery.