Friends of mine are friends with a couple they’ve known for nearly 20 years. I don’t know this couple well, but they are generally nice to me when I do run into them.
So the mother had a pregnancy, and the child has a variety of organ deformities which were spotted around 6 months. It had to be delivered via C-section about 2 months early. So in order to get specialty care the child needed it had to be taken to a hospital in a larger city to have neonatal care and surgeries performed.
Both of the parents work full time, and they both work in the health care field. I think one has a masters, the other with a bachelors in a specific field (PT, radiological technician, I don’t know). They are solidly upper middle class and have health care through his work.
However because they had to take their premature kid to a specialty hospital, their insurer claims it is out of network of their coverage, and refuses to cover treatment. That is despite the areas in their coverage not having the neonatal treatment needed (his health insurance plan is weird, but seems extremely limited). So their choice seems to be either deny the child needed care because it is out of network, or pay for it yourself. For all of Sarah Palin and her myths about public death panels. We’ve had private death panels for years and she (and the neocons) never lifted a finger or cared in the slightest.
So within the course of a few weeks the parents have had to go through knowing that their child is severely deformed and might die (the doctors say there will be tons of surgeries over the next few years). Now she has to quit her job to stay at home to raise the kid since it’ll be special needs. Not only that but her health was severely at risk (and may still be, I don’t know) which is one reason she had to have a C-section, to protect her health.
And on top of all that stress (both parents taking a few months off work and dealing with the finances of that, the mother’s health being at risk, the child’s health being at risk, the mother needing to stay home which will affect family finances) their insurer is looking to get out of paying. The parents claimed they might be bankrupt in 2010 if they have to pay for all of this by themselves. So a solidly upper middle class couple with health insurance through work who are young, and they still they might go bankrupt. I know its been happening for decades, but when it happens to people you know it really hits home. You can do everything right (get a good job with benefits, get an education, avoid risky behavior) and you can still get ground up in the gears of our system anyway. The Just world fallacy can’t be used to blame the victims.
I have heard several friends in Europe say things like ‘why aren’t you all protesting and rioting in the streets about health care’. And my response is, I don’t know. If this were France the health care funding wouldn’t be a problem. And the mother would get maternity leave for up to 3 years. In the US they may have to get a divorce so she qualifies for welfare.
But for one thing, I thought we did ‘riot’ by having 2 landslide elections back to back in 2006 and 2008. The goal of having a democracy isn’t to live in a nation w/o conflict, but to take that conflict, anger and frustration and direct it into nonviolent, but effective action. We tried that. People tried channeling their rage and frustration into constructive, non-violent action (writing letters, voting, registering new voters, awareness, etc). It didn’t seem to work as well as many of us hoped, but its a start.
But why aren’t the people in Myanmar or Equatorial Guinea rioting about the abuses there? I don’t know either. We put up with this crap in the US, but people in North Korea and Myanmar put up with abuses there too.