Our local Internet/cable provider, Charter Communications (which is the only option in our area due to a corrupt system – if you want to watch TV and have Internet you get it from Charter or not at all), have been running a lot of TV commercials lately touting how their service is better than anyone else’s (Verizon, Comcast, Dish Network and what have you) even though they have no competition in our area, effectively a monopoly. Well, THEY’RE LYING. I’d rate their service one step above smoke signals. I’m sitting here waiting for a service rep for the umpteenth time to come to my house, pretend to look things over, shrug his shoulders and say everything looks good. Two minutes after he leaves my Internet will die and God only knows when it will be back.
I’ll tell you what: corporate corruption. There are exactly four players in the game of health care fuckyouover. 1. Doctors/hospitals, i.e. the actual providers of the hands-on health care. 2. Pharmaceutical companies. The corporations that manufacture the medicine that’s supposed to cure you. 3. Insurance companies, the people who pay for most of your health care (if you’re lucky enough to have insurance in the first place). 4. You, the patient.
Here’s the deal, and what makes it so fucked up. Doctors and hospitals make money (profit) when you use their services. There is a financial incentive for them to treat you as much as possible, whether you need it or not. Pharmaceutical companies make money when doctors prescribe drugs to you. There is an unhealthy relationship between doctors and pharma, and a financial incentive for both to make you take as many drugs as possible at the highest possible price for the longest period possible. Insurance companies pay for doctors and drugs. They make money by collecting premiums. There is a financial incentive for insurance companies to hike up the premiums as much as possible and deny you coverage whenever they can get away with it. The patient ends up being fucked over six ways from Sunday.
I’ve been seeing a gastroenterologist, Dr Jonathan T Simon with Gastroenterology Specialists PC, 22 Westfield Avenue in Ansonia, CT, for some stomach problems I’ve been having lately. The guy is a total douchebag who would rather do conveyor belt colonoscopies than actually listen to his patients and suggest reasonable treatments. He diagnosed me off the bat with irritable bowel syndrome and suggested I eat more fiber. When I asked him if there was a treatment, he rolled his eyes and proclaimed that there “is no silver bullet for IBS”, and that was it.
Of course we set up a follow-up appointment, and when I two months later showed no improvement from his non-treatment (go figure) he gave me a prescription for an antibiotic called Xifaxan (Rifaximin). He let me know that my insurance probably wouldn’t pay for it since it was a bit on the pricey side, and that was it. I could tell you more about Dr Simon, but for now, suffice to say that the guy is a total cocksucker and I would recommend him to my worst enemy.
At the pharmacy they let me know that my insurance actually covered the medication (!) and my co-pay was $40, which, when I tell you the retail price of Xifaxan, isn’t all that bad. Without insurance a ten-day supply of Xifaxan, sixty tablets total, would have cost me $795.99. No matter how you spin it, that’s a FUCKING INDECENT PRICE! I would expect medication in this price range to be made primarily of gold, diamonds and the hymens of angels, and to cure AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer AND grow me a new and better penis.
So I’m guessing you can tell that I’m pissed off at “the best healthcare system in the world”, as republicans refer to it. The free market fixes everything, except it doesn’t. If you’re happy with an industry flourishing off of people’s bad fortune, pain and misery; if you’re comfortable with the indecent inverse proportionality between executive bonus growth and the decline of your health; if you’re happy with a political system where the lobbyists write the laws and you are the least influential and important of the aforementioned four players in the health care game; if you are not offended by the hidden dictatorship of K-Street and the Koch brothers, by all means vote for the Republican candidate in November. Obama is a two-faced douche, but orders of magnitude better than anything the opposition can come up with.