Panic About Health Reform on the Day After Thanksgiving
December 6, 2013
Thanksgiving is celebrated as a day of gratitude. The day after Thanksgiving, something magical happens: Black Friday obliterates all gratitude and replaces it with blatant panic, fear, and urgency.
This year, for some, it only took a few hours after turkey dinner to enter into the frightening abyss.
Thanksgivingitus: a condition rampant among communities and individuals susceptible to shopping hysteria and immune from all rational thinking; Can lead to crazy behavior, violence, rudeness, sadness, and grief. Can also lead to financial loss.
Something similar also happens during a hospitalization when families, patients, and visitors express deep gratitude for either a near-miss heart attack, surviving a surgery, or an accident that was not lethal. The gratitude is soon replaced with fear, panic, sometimes shock and, eventually, denial. We tell ourselves it’s “not that bad.”
The sloppy start to Healthcare.gov has also caused fear and panic. It has made us forget what inspired the Affordable Care Act in the first place.
Had our healthcare system been workable, served the needs of our communities, and been financially ethical and affordable, we would not have needed nor contemplated any kind of reform. We would have continued to perfect a working system.
We should be grateful for health reform’s changes. Because what we had was terribly inadequate.
- Pre-existing conditions? Uninsurable.
- Insurance company profits? Unlimited.
- Protection from cancellation or rate increase? None.
- Life-time limits? $2million, which could be exceeded in one year by the cost of a serious diagnosis, such as cancer.
- Just out of college and unemployed? Too bad.
- Preventative exams, e. g. mammograms, prostate tests, colonoscopies, etc.? Self-pay, please.
- Choice of doctor or hospital? Limited to insurance company choices since the 60s.
- Drug plans? Choose medication or dinner.
- Deductibles? Getting higher all the time.
- Medical bankruptcy? No problem for anyone but the patient and family.
Instead of panicking about a website that will get fixed, we should be worried about the inequities and mysteries that surround our healthcare system, such as the invisible relationship between what we pay and who is paid what, and those who do not have access to care that have died or are dying.
Pandemic healthcare system panic is like Black Friday. And, if we return to the gratitude and generosity that characterizes Thanksgiving, we can also move through the redesign of our healthcare system.