Sunday, January 16, 2011

Socialized Medicine

If you don't want to read a venting session, then skip this post.

I've been sent home from the hospital with a bacterial infection in my intestines (caused by all the antibiotics they've got me on), and my blood counts are too low for them to start chemo. Doc says I tend to have a slow recovery from the chemo treatments, likely because of the MS. Speaking of, when I got this lovely infection, my MS flared up (it's normal for it to "come to life" when I get an infection of some kind), so I've been suffering from vertigo. It's just plain been awful!

Anyway, now that I have an infection, we had to buy some meds for it. GUESS how much the meds are for two weeks worth?! 1500 DOLLARS!!! My husband nearly fell over when they told him the price as we were buying it at Walgreens. The guy behind the register then said we could come back another time or forego buying the stuff. My husband's response: My wife's life depends on it, so I have no choice but to get it.

And this is America! Land of the FREE! Sorry to be sarcastic, but after living in Holland for thirteen years, I can tell you in a land with socialized medicine this NEVER would have happened. I miss being able to AFFORD treatments, not having to worry about costs of going in to the ER (something else we had to do last week), I miss being able to afford dental work, surgeries, and not having to worry AT ALL about COSTS when it came to anything health related. Yes, we had to pay, but nothing exorbitant like the other day--and that was just for the meds! We expected those kinds of costs from the hospital (that could be paid off in increments), but not from meds!

You know, people are worried about socialized medicine because it may mean they'll have to wait months to get treated. Well, I know of a man who's suffering from paralyzation in his arms and legs and has no idea what's wrong with him. GUESS how long he has to wait here in America to see a specialist about what's "ailing" him? They squeezed him in for March! He's been sick since last summer! Well, that would also NEVER happen in Holland. My son had a lump in his neck, and the docs got him in the very next day! He was fine thank goodness, but my point is, they were prompt. In fact, I was surprised at how prompt because I was so used to the slowness out here. Honestly, even the waiting room time in Holland is significantly shorter.

I know, I know. You're probably thinking, then go back to Holland. sigh Well, when it comes to medical mess, I would if I could because this country really stinks where that's concerned. It's not about the patient here. It's about how much money can be made. It's frightening, really.

Throughout this entire treatment, I've often wondered what in the world people do without insurance?! We're blessed in that we're insured! All I know is, as I go along with this treatment, this isn't the first drug company I've seen taking advantage of sick people.

Americans think they have it "so good." Guys. This is a wakeup call. After living in another country for thirteen years and moving back here, I was SHOCKED by what I came home to. I've never seen so many sick people in my entire life (and this is BEFORE I got sick)! Out of all the years in Holland, I never saw ONE person carrying around an oxygen tank. Here, I've seen so many, I can't count them. There are even commercials here selling bags to carry them! In Holland, I've never seen one commercial about the best drug to take (along with a slew of all the horrendous side-affects). And the most shocking thing of all after returning to the States was the food. Ask a European, ANY European, if they like the food here, and see what kind of answer you get.

The food in America is what I'm thinking may be killing us. The veggies are tasteless! The tomatoes here are NOT RED. I know you think they are, but they're really not! I've seen a red tomato. I've eaten red tomatoes, and they taste TEN TIMES BETTER than anything I've had out here. The food here tastes like plastic. Milk I grew up on, cheese I grew up on, veggies and fruits I grew up on (things I enjoyed as a kid), were suddenly the worst things I'd ever tasted! I've been spoiled in Europe. Spoiled with healthy vegetables, healthy fruits (you won't believe how much more flavor there is out there in just those things!), that our family still isn't satisfied with anything we can find out here. We saw fish for sale at the grocery-store. One was dyed red, yes DYED, while the more expensive and wild caught fish was naturally red. They don't have to dye their food in Europe to get it to sell. Really, that should be illegal. If that became illegal, I'm wondering just how "good" any of the food would look. E-hem!

Back to healthcare. If America wants to follow a pattern that works for socialized medicine, I suggest they follow Holland (at least the way they had it four years ago when we were still there). I wouldn't follow Great Britain. I've heard of the hospitals there, and my great aunt who stays in a nursing home in Holland (she's Scottish) doesn't even want to go back there because the care in Holland is so much better. She would rather stay in a country where she doesn't speak the language because the care is BETTER than go back home to her homeland where the care isn't nearly as good! Both places have socialized medicine. Clearly, one country is doing it "right." Just because you put a label on it and call it socialized medicine, does not mean everything is going to be better. They need to look at countries who have succeeded at it.

My best friend who lives in France had her mother get her dental work done while visiting France because it was TEN TIMES cheaper. It's sad when we as Americans have to fly out to other countries to get "fixed" because we can't afford it in our own country! I'm not saying this to complain. I'm saying this to inform. When this is all you know, then how can you know there's a better way? I've LIVED the better way for thirteen years. And I'm sad to say, it's not in America.

No, this is how it is in America. Truly! I've experienced it! We often don't bother going to the doctor because we know he'll just issue us some drug, rather than attempt to get down the the nitty gritty to find out what's really wrong. And this has been experienced not just with our doc (in fact, he tends to do more searching), but numerous other docs we end up with when our doc doesn't have room in his schedule. They're so quick to issue a drug than to really figure out what's wrong. In Holland, their last resort is passing out drugs. I often feel like we're into legalized drug-dealing here in America. sigh

Anyway, enough venting. I'm just so frustrated with everything right now. Thanks for listening. 


  1. Everyone needs a listening ear. I truly do hope you are doing better. Will be praying.

  2. Sandi,
    An excellent rant from someone who's lived on both sides and can truly speak into the situation. One personal note: My mother suffered from (I am guessing) the same infection you currently have, brought on by antibiotics. Against all odds, she had it for THREE YEARS. (This is NOT typical.) If she went off the expensive medication, the infection recurred with a vengeance within 4 days. Her insurance (Medicare plus a supplemental Blue Cross policy) did pay for the meds.

    Then my sister contracted the same infection. She was cured within 2 weeks. She CRIED when she arrived at the pharmacy and faced the same high cost you did. (She lives near the poverty line.) Her doctor intervened on her behalf with her insurance company, making the strong case why this was the only medicine appropriate for this infection and that without it, her medical bills would mount up higher and higher and she would likely require hospitalization for the infection, etc, etc. The insurance company promptly reversed their original decision and paid for the RX. I hope you will try to appeal this very bad decision on the part of the insurance company. Perhaps your doctor can help with this!!

    Many blessings to you. I am so sorry for all the hassles you have to deal with while also fighting an awful health situation. I appreciate what you've written here!

  3. I see socialized medicine from the doctor's standpoint, and the hundreds of small hospitals that would close under socialized medicine. Someone having to drive 500 miles just to see their primary care physician is not a very pleasant thought, and that's what'll happen eventually if our medical system becomes socialized. America is a lot more rural than Europe. There are still thousands of towns where the closest hospital with more than a glorified walk-in clinis is anywhere from 45 to 250 miles away.

    Part of the reason care here is so expensive is because the feds *won't* stay out of it. Medical malpractice insurance premiums are over $4,000 a month for far too many doctors. I don't even want to know what it is now for surgeons. The courts are out of control in their awarding of obscene sums of money in malpractice cases. Doctors are leaving Mississippi because they can't afford their premiums, leaving thousands of people without access to health care.

    The whole issue is a lot more complicated than most people realize. My dad's a doctor, has been for nearly 30 years. The closer we move towards socialized medicine, the worse health care in this country gets. If insurance were allowed to be sold across state lines prices would drop dramatically.

    The drug companies are far too invested in this country and something needs to be done about it. But I don't think raising taxes, raising the national debt, and closing hospitals is the answer. Under ALL the proposed socialized plans, non-profit religious hospitals would end up closing forever. They provide a significant portion of health care outside of major metropolitan areas. The closest university hospital to me is two and a half hours away, and I'd drive five hours to Texas before I'd go there!

    Medicare is what's destroying American health care. It cost my dad his private practice and very nearly cost us our house.

    The European system of medicine isn't going to be able to last. The people paying the taxes to support are dying, and there's not enough people being born to replace that tax income. Nothing is life is free. Health care is expensive no matter where you go. It's just that in Europe it's hidden in the outrageous taxes, instead of in premiums.

    It's not a simple issue and it can't be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach. That's what got us into this mess in the first place.

  4. By the way, I am not in favor of socialized medicine, for the reasons Rachel outlines. But during the "time between," when so much needs to happen to return a sense of sanity to our healthcare system (and as a company of two, my husband and I pay $12,000 in premiums and another $10,000 in deductibles, so I am familiar with crazy!), I am a FIRM advocate of having a relationship with a claims person at your insurance company. I have one representative who handles any claims of mine that are problematic. She has overturned many bad decisions with a simple phone call. It took a while to find her, but once I did, I will speak to no one else. It's not the only answer to solving some of the many problems both Sandi and Rachel have enumerated, but it does help to position yourself so that you're not getting the run around every time you contact your insurance company.

  5. Interesting to hear how it is from a doctor's standpoint in America. All I know is what I experienced. Taxes were high in Holland, but we're not far behind them (growing closer every year) only without the "benefits." In Holland we could go to any hospital and any doctor we chose. Actually, we had more choice out there than we have here. There were no limitations, including homeopathic doctors (Holland is a big supporter of homeopathic medicine). I've been amazed that folks can't get the doctors they want here because of insurance. Again, it's just what I've experienced. I'm not saying we need to become a socialized country, by any means. Something just needs to change.

    I'll let my husband call the insurance company about the 1500 dollar bill we were slammed with. In fact, he didn't even want me to know how much it was, but I found out by accident. These things just freak me out. How are we supposed to pay for this?! That's where trusting in God comes in. Right? I'm trusting! I'm trusting! I'm trusting! Show me what You've got, Lord. He's helped us out many times in the past. I know He'll do it again.

  6. I am pretty sure you are interested in alternative medicines, so I figured I would tell you about these that have done amazing things for me and my family. They are Essential Oils from Young Living. If you want to look into what they have done for people with a bunch of ailments,including MS, infections, pain and cancer, please look it up and see if you want to try it.

    Do not want to push, so I will let you decide (duh, of course) if this is something you want to look into, but I felt I needed to let you know about it.
    If you want to, go to
    You have to "create a free account" to search, (sign up with your email).
    They don't send off your email address to anyone.

    Again, I do not know how you feel about trying another alternative medicine, but would you do me a favor and go to this link and read about what this has done for these people. I CAN tell you these oils have really made a difference in our lives and that it is not "in our head" that they are helping. There are provable differences in our bodies as well as non provable ones, that only the person themselves can tell.
    Please read about what help these people have received for whatever you are dealing with and then decide for yourself if it is worth a try.

    A lot of people talk about the juice too, I have not started taking it yet......but will soon, just ordered some. I wanted to first see what the oils could do, and not get it mixed up with what the juice could do.

    Our family:

    I need to go back to the eye doctor, as the glasses prescription she wrote me this May is WAY TOO STRONG now. It seems to be fixing my eyesight. The prescription she wrote seemed a little strong to start with, at -4.5, but here lately I have been wearing a pair of glasses a lot that are only -1 or -1.5!!!! HUH???? How in the world?
    Both Amanda and I have had HUGE success sleeping with the new oil "progessence pluss".
    Thyme makes you snore a lot less, also tried in our family! (on me, I just started snoring this Amanda has told me when we traveled and slept together. I did not yet snore in Alaska this summer, go figure).
    The three oils called the "pain trio" have helped with many pains on all four of us.
    Nathaniel and I have both used Lavender on burns and they just disappear. Of course they were not serious burns, but they were painful ones. They stopped hurting instantly.
    I have used peppermint in cold water to relieve a terrible headache twice. Once it went away immediately, after it had hurt ALL DAY and the second one went away gradually in the next five minutes.
    I have had things improve as a side effect.....I was not trying to improve my eyesight, nor the flexibility of my foot that was broken, they did it due to use of oils for other things. I now have (after 3 years of trying to improve my range of motion the doctor's way, with NO improvement) FULL RANGE OF MOTION back in my foot!! I can even walk barefooted again without pain and don't have to wear only "Crocs" anymore. :) :) :)

  7. One more thing seems to have improved, though I did not know it was even a problem, I started having to turn the sound down on the phone. It is just too loud for me now. ALso the turn signal sound in the car is really irritating me now as it seems too loud. Don't ask me which is a side effect of one of ones I am using for other things, but I suspect it is "pan-away" as it has some Helechrysum in it that is supposed to help hearing.
    Helechrysum is an expensive oil ($69) that is why I have not bought it yet to try on Ken's hearing, but it is on the schedule to be bought in Feb :)
    I have had warts fall off in a week or so.
    Healed Athletes foot, easily, without using the dangerous meds the doctor gave me. I found out the doctor's meds can cause liver in..... "you need to take a liver test before, during and after taking that pill". NO WAY would I take that prescription! Thieves fixed it right up, and it smells wonderful. (I started to fix this with apple cider vinegar and listerine, and that worked too, but it made my feet smell like....well...uh... dirty feet)
    There are really a lot more things, but I don't suppose you need to hear them all. One more....Di-Gize rubbed on your tummy at night totally prevents/relieves digestive problems of all kinds. Ken and I have used this as well as a friend who was visiting. She was amazed how fast it went away for too, constantly amazed....and it is still amazing me daily.

    Anyway, I thought of you may have something you want to try to fix, it is worth the cost of a set of oils to try this!!!!
    If you do try it, please share with the rest of us.

    Hope they pass your expectations as much as they have mine!

    I keep thinking of the anointing oils and prayer used in the bible......could they have been essential oils? What else would they have been? God knows, and HE is the Healer of course.
    It is highly recommended to use the oils with prayer, as all healing comes from God.

    I love you guys!
    Sally :)

  8. Sandi, I so sympathize! When I am very ill, the LAST thing I feel able to do is deal with bureaucracies, but the way our system is right now, I've had to---or my husband does on my behalf. The thing about the drug you're taking---if it's the one my mother and sister were prescribed---is that it is considered the ONLY medication that will knock out the infection. Therefore, the insurance company (if you find a great rep to deal with) SHOULD listen to reason. Yes, the med is horribly expensive, but there is no alternative med that works anywhere near as well. It it also possible that the med's manufacturer would work with your family directly on helping with the cost. I see these ads on TV, "If you are unable to afford your medication, call the manufacturer, blah, blah, blah." It's well worth fighting the denial!

  9. Definitely call the insurance company about that ridiculous bill. And call Walgreen's about it too. While they are the most popular chain pharmacy in the country, they are also the most expensive. When I have to pay cash for something I do not go to Walgreen's for it. It costs twice as much there as it does other places.

    And what Katy said about the infection is right on. If it's the infection I think it is, there's only one drug that works and it's horrendously expensive to manufacture, let alone sell. It does not get advertised and a good pharmacy will work with its customers to bring the price down. There's one particular pharmacy here where we always sent people who needed that one, because he'd work with them to get it as affordable as possible. Even if it cost him money.

    I'm lucky enough to have GREAT insurance right now with no deductible, and I had my eyes checked yesterday. It was a $300 visit that only cost me $30. But I don't know how much longer it's going to last. If I end up divorced later this spring I'll lose it, or if he realizes he can have me removed from it I'll lose it. So I'm making the most of it!

    Something must be done. Federal involvement just makes it worse. I think health insurance needs to be a truly open free market where ALL companies compete with each other, instead of one company being favored over another because of how federal regulations are written.

    Before HMO's came along people had more choice about the doctor they saw and the hospital they used. HMO's were the beginning of the mess we're in. I remember an article my dad write back in the early 90's talking about the dangers of HMO's. Nobody believed him at the time. But two years later every doctor he met who'd read the article said he was right. He's been very active and well respected in the national medical societies all my life.