Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sick, sick, sick

What happens when you send your child off to school? He or she gets sick. Then you get sick. But since you're a mom, you don't get enough rest, so it turns into bronchitis or worse. Thankfully we have health insurance through my husband's job. My mother finally convinced me to drag myself to a doctor. 20 minutes later I was picking up a prescription for an overpriced antibiotic.

But what about the single mom who works as a home-health care worker and then part-time at Walmart. She never gets enough hours to qualify for benefits, but she makes too much to qualify for Medicaid. She can't take time off to get rest and get well because she'll lose her job. So she drags around feeling miserable getting sicker and sicker until it turns into pneumonia. Or not. Maybe she just stays sick.

Then someone like my stepdad comes into the store. A year ago he had a lung transplant. Today the anti-rejection medications he takes mean he has no immune system to fight off the slightest cold. And every cold turns into pneumonia and an extended hospital stay with more overpriced drugs.

Her kids go to school sick because she can't take time off to stay home with them. Then my kids play with her kids, and they get sick. When they are sick they can't see their grandfather. All of the agony and discomfort and stress of the transplant was so he could have a few more years to get to know his grandsons. Instead they are bundled up on the couch sipping juice and watching movies.

Then three-year-old's cold has also turned into bronchitis. He HATES the medicine. And it was expensive, too. Even with health insurance, our co-pay on prescriptions has almost tripled. The employee portion of the premiums deducted from my husband's paycheck has more than doubled, consuming his entire annual raise and then some.

The health care system in this country is a mess. It is killing people. Howard Dean knows this. He's been on the front line of this battle. As a doctor he's seen first hand how inadequate the system is. The crisis in health care isn't just another vote getting issue to him. Dr. Dean will give us answers and solutions.

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