Sick of Being a Sicko

I just watched Michael Moore’s Sicko over at Google Video, and I have to say… I already knew most of this. But having it summarized, without Moore’s usual political grandstanding or creative edits, draws a stark and rigid line—maybe through our assumptions—to why I’ve lost faith America can draw itself away from terminable selfishness.

This maybe strikes home to me, more than most, because my very life depends on insurance. I need insurance, because I have several congenital heart conditions, any of which raise my risk of instant cardiac death. Not allergies, not occasional headaches, a bad back, or high cholesterol. I could simply drop dead, all because a slight mishap at the Heart Factory. I wear a Medic Alert necklace at all times, and despite myself, I exercise voraciously–partially so I know when my cardiac output decreases. I know I have a “preexisting condition,” and everything it entails.

For those uninitiated to those implications, allow me to explain. Insurance companies hate paying for anything. Some are unscrupulous, and will actively look for excuses not to pay for coverage. While this isn’t as true for PPOs as opposed to HMOs, it does mean one important thing especially to me: I must remain under coverage, at all times, at all costs. If I ever let insurance lapse, even for a week, my preexisting condition means no other insurance company, anywhere, will cover me ever again. Especially not for something as inherently expensive as a complicated heart condition–one tricky enough to confuse several experienced cardiologists unfamiliar with rare deformities. Without insurance, I could never afford the necessary maintenance of yearly echocardiograms and MRIs, stress tests, and specialists that track the current state of my blood pumping device.

Quite simply, without insurance, I’d be dead. As I get older, associated risks become greater, and the importance increases. I have no choice: remain employed, or go bankrupt. That’s a choice nobody should ever have to make, especially in the “richest country in the world.” It’s a disgrace.

I’m fully convinced that the very nature of our capitalist system encourages this behavior. Whichever corporation brings in the highest profits “wins.” Where do those profits go? “Performing” CEOs and board members, golden parachutes, and sometimes, stockholders. Instead of helping people, our private healthcare system is lining the pockets of those content to live off the suffering of others. And we accept it, because we know nothing else. If Sicko accomplishes only one thing, the fat guy people love to hate shows it doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to be shackled by constant insurance to sustain our health.

That’s a message I hope someone out there hears. Ignore Michael Moore; he’s a pawn in this, really. The fact of the matter, is that our system is in shambles of opportunistic parasites, sucking our very goodwill from our souls, hardening our hearts and even thinning our wallets in the bargain. And in this, I truly have no choice: if I ever lose my job, or skip insurance, I have to leave. If I want to survive, I can’t afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatments. I’d have to leave–no discussion. Some of you out there don’t have to consider this, but I do. I loved the idea of America as described in the Constitution, but that America is dead. If Capitalism could somehow be transcribed in a document and take the Constitution’s place instead, that’s the true code of this country: the almighty profit.

I understand wanting to “get ahead,” but that’s seriously sickening. Profit should never trump life. Never. The second that happens, a diabolical negotiation consumes another American dream, leaving only an echo of its memory. We’ve long ago lost liberty, but now we can’t even pursue life without kowtowing to a series of companies which, like any good profit center, will avoid payout viciously, to “increase shareholder value.” Meanwhile, healthcare costs keep going up regardless, insurance or no. I hate to say it, but I may be forced to leave someday, and I hope you understand when or if I do. I’d rather live a coward, than die a slave.

Until Tomorrow