“Open My Eyes, Illumine Me”

Whatever you may have heard or thought about Michael Moore and his past documentaries, I sincerely URGE you to go see SICKO. I understand so much better now after seeing it how a failed private insurance system puts profit ahead of patients in ways you may not realise. 

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp and set me free. 

I remember my children’s pediatrician when we lived in Connecticut. Dr. Ford had a laid-back, easy-going demeanor that was just right for an overly worrying, hovering mother hen type as I was at the time. We chose him because he was recommended by other young parents we knew. I didn’t have to check a private inssurance’s authorized provider list to see if his name was there before I called to make our first appointment with him. Each office visit cost us $8.

A few years later we moved to Ohio where I registered the girls at a Children’s Clinic with several so-called expert child specialists on staff. I’d been warned it might be hard to get them in if they got sick unless they were pre-registered, so I did. Each office visit, they told me, would be $20, but a higher price tag associated with what we assumed would be outstanding health care was still acceptable. There were no insurance companies involved, and we were able to pay the $20.

Somewhere around the same time period I arranged a physician visit for a minor illness of my own. Again I chose a doctor several friends recommended. Besides giving me a same day appointment, Dr. Downey (a General Practitioner) only charged $8 per visit. When blood tests were needed, either he or the staff technician took the sample, and charged me an additional three dollars. In the meantime I was given a prescription, which usually was the magic elixer, and I’d be feeling much better already when the nurse called a few days later to confirm the initial diagnosis, and remind me to finish all the medication.

Around our third visit to the Children’s Clinic, the doctor who handled our case that day, Dr. Adams, gave me a general cussing out almost but not quite as bad as a spitting drill sargeant, telling me it was my fault the youngest was constipated. I wish I could tell you that I spit in his face as I slammed the door on the way out but I didn’t. Instead I agonized over not being a good mother. Eventually some good sense came to me and the next time one of the girls was sick I called Dr. Downey. I worried that I might be making a bad decision, that he wouldn’t be “expert” enough to take care of my children. Around this time I began to notice that some patients were registering with Dr. Downey’s receptionist and announcing that they had such and such insurance. Insurance at this point was still an option; our fees were raised slightly but still reasonable.

A year or two afterwards, the girls still alive after being treated several times by Dr. Downey, I read in the newspaper, way in the back section, that Dr. Adams, formerly of the Children’s Clinic in Columbus, had been convicted of child molestation, stripped of his license to practice medicine, and was then serving a sentence in prison.

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
 

Yet when somebody like Michael Moore comes along with his documentary with profiles of several ordinary Americans whose lives have been disrupted, shattered, or worse, ended by a health care catastrophe, many of us shake our heads firmly and say “I’m NOT going to contribute to his one-sided biased attempt to communize the health care in this country!” We simply refuse to hear.

Maybe it’s because some of us think if someone in this great U.S. of A. is still uninsured, it has to be their own fault, yet this crisis doesn’t only affect the 47 million uninsured citizens. It affects millions who thought they were covered, only to get the shaft by large insurance corporations when they were confronted by catastrophic illness. Many lost their homes; many lost their lives or those of their loved ones. It’s all there. Moore’s movie is simply showing us how the health care system got into such a mess in the first place, and why profit for health care is just plain wrong. You may find it hard to believe the ends to which some insurance corporations will go in order to deny your claims for needed treatment.

Doesn’t it make sense that preventive care makes better sense than treating the illness? As our system now stands, it simply isn’t economically feasible for doctors to counsel patients in preventing the health problems in the first place. The sicker you are, or the sicker you get, the more you go to see the doctor, and the more he makes. The more drugs you’re prescribed, the more money the pharmaceutical corporations make. 

Many of the negative things we hear about the single pay system, or universal free healthcare, are myths. That’s why Moore visits doctors and clinics in Canada, Great Britain and France, where everyone receives free medical benefits. You hear the story from the mouths of the doctors and the patients who use these clinics.

Open my mouth, and let it bear
Gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere;

I have my own story–insignificant perhaps in light of the far worse problems many millions of Americans are facing–but one that nevertheless made me SAD at first, then made me CRY, but finally made me MAD. For about two years I’ve been under the care of a Reumatologist, going through one round of medicine or another until finally, in December 2006, Enbrel, which is an injection I give myself once a week at home, gave me back my life. I know that sounds trite but anyone who’s been down with this dreaded affliction knows how absolutely devasting it can be. Since May this year we have spend more than $1,000 for my Enbrel, and in three weeks I’ll need to come up with an additional $1000 or more for one month’s supply (this is in addition to what Medicare and the insurance contributes). Under my old insurance plan through the company Hubby worked for, a large part of the cost was offset by insurance, at a time when we had more income than we now have in retirement.

There is another RA treatment, however, that–if I decide to switch–would cost very little. It’s administered by infusion (IV drip)  by a doctor or technician in a doctor’s office. Treatment given in the doctor’s office or clinic is completely covered, so the cost to me would be the $25 copay. My doctor is reluctant to switch but is willing to do so if we insist, arguing that the present treatment is working so well, why risk my progress so far by switching? He admits that saving between $5,000 and $7,000 is a good reason to think about it.

I hesitate primarily because the two people I know who are presently taking the infusion treatment feel a marked “let down” several days to a week before their next treatment. Secondly, I have very small, rolling veins and it’s sometimes very painful to get the needle in for the infusion, and I’d have to while away several hours in a clinic. A patient’s choice of treatment should be a matter decided by the doctor and patient, not by a large insurance corporation. 

Again, I urge you to see SICKO. Watch it with an open mind, do your own research, and make up your mind. I believe, like me, you may decide that a country that can provide free libraries, free police protection, free fire protection, free schools (all paid for we know by taxes, but it’s there for ALL of us, not just those who can afford it) should be able to figure out a way to provide free health care coverage for all its citizens. Whether or not you agree with everything you see or hear in this movie, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that one of the most important issues for any candidate for election in the next presidential race should be a firm commitment to health care for every American. 

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7 thoughts on ““Open My Eyes, Illumine Me”

  1. Bravo, Alice. You did a great job writing about a subject I’ve been ranting on for months, every opportunity I get. Changing our system of healthcare delivery would make a difference in more areas than we probably realize. Beside the fact that we are not receiving good care in this highly expensive system, many people are stuck in jobs they don’t want because they are afraid to give up their insurance coverage. Companies are hiring fewer people, and making their employees work longer hours, because they don’t want to pay additional benefits (health insurance). Some companies are going broke because of their accumulated pension and healthcare costs. Many people don’t have health insurance because they can’t even get it, let alone afford it. I know quite a few people who, when they got in their fifties lost jobs (not age discrimination, of course) and were then unable to get any health insurance.

    I started ranting about this after seeing the Rubin Museum of Tibetan Art in New York and a vast collection of art from New Guinea at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. What does this have to do with healthcare? Both collections were amassed by the CEOs of health insurance companies. I think it’s outrageous they can make so much money while so many of us suffer. Rubin particularly outraged me. He bought a building at Seventh Ave and 17th St in New York City and completely redid it. It’s gorgeous, but that is truly blood money.

  2. Several friends have recommended seeing SICKO, so that when I read your post, I’m even more inclined to do so. I like some of MMoore’s stuff, but find him pretty ham-handed at times. Like almost every American, I’ve had more frustration with the insurance+profit-led medical system than I care to mention. Doctors I respect say they’re hamstrung by insurance approvals, lower fees and generally not much incentive, other than their inborn sense of doing the right thing, to practice medicine.
    Just read your post about Subways in Idaho, and having recently driven through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Montana and Idaho, I can attest that 1) there are more Subway stores than there are critters and 2) these Subway stores are plopped right in the middle of the smallest burgs I’ve ever seen (one town had a posted population of 154 and there was nothing to the town but a zip code, a gas station-snack store — and a Subway.
    You have good stuff on your mind; I’ll look forward to reading more.

  3. SICKO was produced by a “SICKO” whose name is Michael Moore. This man is as addicted to seeing his face and seeing his name in the news as is Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.
    He only tells you what he wants you to know and that will direct you to vote for a liberal who promises a healthcare program that will free you of the exorbitant costs. HUMBUG!
    First, why shouldn’t an executive of an insurance company make money, lots of money? You do know that insurance companies are involved in other forms of enterprise than just insurance don’t you? Things like banking, building construction, mortgages, mutual funds etc. Now back to healthcare, you would no doubt like to enjoy the finest healthcare available as I would. If you were in a situation where government controlled healthcare (socialized medicine) was the only care available, you would get slip shod care from inadaquately trained doctors. Why do you think people in countries where they have socialized medicine come to the USA for treatment?
    You no doubt read about the Doctors involved to the bombings in London and Glasgow, they were doctor brought from foriegn countries who were terrorists. Why were they brought from foriegn countries? Because there are few Doctors in the U.K. thanks to socialized medicine.
    Incidentally, I have RA and a nerve disorder caused by prednisone and have for 8 years. Whithout my meds I am non-funtional. I do not believe a word more money michael moore says.

    Don’t believe what I say, do a little research on your own, you will be surprised. Why do you think Hillary failed in her quest for Universal Healthcare in 1993? Look it up from credible sources.

    Don’t let this charleton fool you. He will jump on any cause that makes him more money.

    RWD

  4. I generally enjoy Mr. Moore’s work, so I had planned on seeing “Sicko” previous to this. However, now I am moving it up the list on my “to see” chart. By the way, I will post a picture of the loveseat, just so you can see it.

  5. To Ruthe, Kent, and The Vogts, thanks to all of you for your comments. I appreciate hearing from you.

    To RightWingDog:

    I’m afraid I find many of your comments irrelevant to the subject of healthcare so I will address only your more pertinent remarks here. First off, you should resist namecalling. Then it might be easier for you to understand that SICKO expresses what Michael Moore has learned from his investigations and, under his Constitutional rights, he is bringing that information to all the world through this documentary in order to bring attention to a healthcare system geared for profit that only works for SOME of the people SOME of the time.

    It is up to each of us to believe or not to believe, always, but if it at least wakes Americans up to resist the myths we’ve been fed, and do their own searching, then Moore has done more than anybody else so far to open a dialogue for positive change. If you know things he said or showed that are untrue then why not point them out, but backed up with evidence, please.

    As for insurance executives having the right to make lots of money, yes they have that right, but PLEASE not off the backs of working Americanswho need affordable healthcare and medicine. Besides, there is something obscene and unethical about profiteering from lifesaving healthcare and drugs Exorbitant costs don’t affect the rich people at the top, nor those at the extreme bottom. But every one of the rest of us are only one catastrophic illness from bankruptcy. Furthermore, even if insurance companies are involved in “other enterprises like banking, building construction, mortgages, mutual funds” they aren’t there out of altruism. With the money they save from denying medical claims, they certainly can and do invest heavily. Furthermore, the more profits you have, the more salary and bonuses you’re paid, the more you can donate to campaigns and the more you can pay the lobbyists to take care of the politcians to enact laws to benefit you.

    With regards to the “socialized healthcare” we do have an excellent example in this country. It’s called “Medicare” and it is administered very well. Only in recent years large insurance companies have become involved (after the prescription drug plan) and the costs are going up. If the government were allowed to negotiate prices of drugs for medicare it will one of the best socialized healthcare program in this country. I am a beneficiary of this excellent healthcare program. Incidentally, I belive that Hilary Clinton’s proposal did not go forward only because the insurance companies (HMOs), and the drug companies campaigned to scare the public with all kinds of misrepresentations.

    As for “slip shod care by inadequately trained doctors,” I have had excellent medical care in a country we’ve been brainwashed into calling a “third world country” with socialized medicine. It didn’t cost me a cent, except for the minor cost of the prescription bought at a pharmacy, and the treatment was certainly not “slip shod.” And I just can’t resist pointing out, even though I said I would only address relevant points, because I just knew after the Glasgow Airport incident any doctor anywhere whose skin is not milk white will now be a suspected terrorist.

    Doctors are hired from many different countries everywhere, not just in or by the U.K. It’s called living in a “globalized community.” Also, I’d like to point out the obvious need for more doctors everywhere, not just the U.K.

    I’m sorry you aren’t functional without your meds. Now if you should develop some other catastropic disease in addition, and I certainly hope you don’t, you might just be in real trouble unless you’re one of the rich ones, or if the insurance company does not relate the new illness to a pre-existing condition. You don’t say, but I feel fairly certain you have NOT seen the documentary. Let me suggest that you do. Afterwards, as you suggest, do some research as I continue to do, then I hope you’ll come back and back up your comments with specifics. By the way, here is a good place to begin your reading:

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org

  6. Name calling ? Moore calls the healthcare system SICKO!

    Wealthy off the backs of the poor? Come on, that is way to liberal of a comment even for this discussion.
    Where do people get the idea that healthcare is an entitlement?
    HMO’s were the backbone of Hillary’s failed plan.
    Insurance companies have been involved in Medicare since shortly after its inception.
    If you are so enamored with Third World Healthcare, go there and receive yours.
    I can tell by your writings that you are an educated person and much better than I am. Certainly you have questions regarding this lunatic Moore and his anti-American agenda!

    RWD

  7. It’s clear to me there’s no point in our going further in this “discussion.” I wrote an opinion urging everyone to go see Moore’s documentary; you, obviously, cannot or will not–your choice. As for going to a third world for my healthcare, I already do. The U.S. is fast becoming–if not already–the richest third world in the whole universe. We’ll leave this discussion there!

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