Many of us enjoy AMC’s The Walking Dead and the zombie apocalypse holds a certain grasp over more than a few people. Even I enjoy the genre, but more so the campier style with Woody Harrelson in Zombieland 1 and 2. But what of the real walking dead? Yes, they really do exist and mostly in America. The real walking dead are everyday Americans that cannot afford the costs of their healthcare so they ration it and must wait until their health is already at the point of a train wreck before getting any. The system of private health insurance has turned Americans into veritable walking dead as many of us are waiting for the serious incident or illness to strike and we worry that it, if the incident does not kill us, then the post-incident stress will. I hear politicians repeatedly say that Americans love our private health insurance and we do until we are faced with using it. Once we realize we need to use our health insurance, a Rube Goldberg nightmare machine of denials and appeals is set into motion.
If we operate on the premise that it will only be a matter of time, and if, not when serious illness or injury can strike then private health insurance has long outlived its usefulness. Arguably it never was useful or effective but a means of wealth extraction from the working class under the guise of providing some kind of peace of mind. I cannot help but further think that this is similar to what religion does to us. Religion sells us peace of mind and salvation while falling well short on delivery of said goods. Yet the faithful, also a member of the walking dead, continue to pay their dues, tithes, or whatever the current terminology may be. But alas I digress; the only solution to the current affordability debacle is a single-payer, Medicare For All system styled after other nation’s existing systems. I champion relegating the large corporations that comprise private health insurance into competition with GEICO, Progressive, All State, and Nationwide! Let them sell Home, Life, and Auto lines.
I am further thinking of the diabetic who must ration his or her insulin because the #Pharma Bros# of this world are hiking the cost 5000% when it was the American tax payer that funded the research to synthesize it in the first place. I am thinking of one of my Twitter followers, @scottdesno. Scott and his wife lost their son last year to a missed 20.00 insurance premium due to Fidelis Care. Scott’s son Danny was late on the payment and made every attempt to get it to Fidelis as quickly as possible and Fidelis made Danny wait 30 days to have his insurance reinstated. Unfortunately, 30 days was longer than Danny had because Danny needed a critical medication for his mental condition. It is well known that sudden withdrawal from this medicine would cause suicidal ideation. The predatory nature of private health insurance snuffed out a real, beautiful human being’s life. While I never knew Danny, I can only imagine that he was every bit as decent the human being that Scott is. Danny’s life was worth a sum vastly more than 20.00 but Fidelis felt it was worth less than a feline’s. Fidelis is latin for faithful and is part of the Marine Corps slogan, Semper Fi. Nobody should place their faith in Fidels or any private health insurance company.
Danny should never have been part of the real walking dead and Fidelis Care had no business enaging in the business practice that cost Danny his life. Scott and Danny have me thinking that I am waiting to die. I have both physical and mental health problems that will only worsen as I age. I worry about what will become of me when I can no longer be a productive member of society. Society’s services for the elderly are mostly for white, privileged people. While my skin may be powdery as my friends of color would laughingly describe, I am certainly not monetarily privileged. This leads me to wonder if my retirement might not come from death while on the job and wondering how many other people could face this same bleak prospect. The wealthiest nation in the history of the world should be able to care for the working class. It is only with large systemic change and overcoming the intertia that the moneyed interests have thrown at us, that we can be relatively safe in retirement. I’ll leave you with this one and final thought: A friend of the family’s aging mother-in-law needs care beyond what that friend can provide. The care is costing 4300.00 a month. That would be a death sentence for me.