Monday, May 02, 2005
Fourth root-canal in the past three months this morning. My dentist finally reveals to me today that he's a Mormon as he's got a needle poised over my mouth and all I can think of is that every time I've walked into his office I've had a cup of coffee in my hand. Fortunately he is very pain-free and as an addict in recovery I enjoy the opportunity for the nitrous-oxide, or a "free-lapse" as we call it in the club.
But it is annoying and damned expensive. The only thing that would make it worse would be not being able to afford to have the work done at all, which fortunately I can but there have been times in my life where I couldn't and the stress of that is ungodly. Bush's war on the middle class -- for which I can only hope he will spend some rather uncomfortable compensatory time in hell -- has resulted in a world where wages have gone flat with inflation, and medical expenses are rising faster than both. Every couple of months I get another letter from Blue Cross telling me that there has been an exorbitant increase in my policy, and I can only imagine what someone trying to raise a family on a budget must feel when they get that very same letter. Every time I drive past a Wal-Mart I think everybody in there must live in mortal fear of getting an appendicitis, and many are probably suffering through ailments that could be easily treated if they didn't feel that going to the doctor would wipe them out.
It makes the new bankruptcy bill even more heinous. According to a study called MarketWatch: Illness and Injury as Contributions to Bankruptcy, about half of the people who filed for bankruptcy in 2001 -- 1.9-2.2 million Americans -- experienced medical bankruptcy. Out-of-pocket medical costs for these people averaged $11,854 and 75.7% had insurance at the onset of illness.
Under the new bankruptcy law, it is much harder to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where your assets are consolidated and then sold off to pay creditors and that's the end of it. Instead, most people will have to file for Chapter 13, where you don't get a clean slate, the courts establish a payment policy for you that will follow you for the rest of your life. You have no option but to work as a slave to your medical bills until they're paid off or you draw your dying breath.
While I acknowledge that many centrist Democrats aren't just craven amoral opportunists, nobody who voted for this bill has come up with a good reason for doing so. As Atrios so rightly said, "This wasn't right versus left, conservative versus liberal. This was whore versus not whore."
My Congressperson -- Darlene Hooley -- is a whore.