When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I cried for three days straight. Then I realized, "This is pointless, counterproductive non-supportive, and really, really boring." So I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and life became relatively normal again.
After Tuesday's election, I am back at the "cry for three days" part.
At least I hope it's only three days.
After the diagnosis, there were two big pains in my heart after I discovered that my son's odds of surviving this were extremely high. First, that he might never be able to have kids. Second, that he would never be able to get health insurance.
The doctors put my mind at ease on the first bit. After only two rounds of chemo, the chances of conceiving normally are very high. If not, there's a backup plan in a freezer somewhere.
After Tuesday's election and the consequent death of health reform -- plus Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that corporations can contribute unlimited money to elections -- the second issue will not resolve so easily. Actually, it will not resolve at all. Ever. Health reform -- meaning, true, meaningful health reform that adds the USA to the list of civilized countries where healthcare doesn't belong just to the rich and/or large-company-employed -- is dead. It will not happen. Not now and probably not ever.
I've read through the early ideas about "compromise" that are being floated, and there is nothing in there that will benefit people like my son (aside from the possibility that we will be able to keep him on our health insurance for a few extra years.) And this despite the fact that the chance of a recurrence of his type of cancer are tiny.
Companies will not be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions except in children under nineteen years of age. After that, people are on their own. His only chance for healthcare coverage in this country in his lifetime will be to get a fulltime job with a large company after college and to never, ever get laid off, or try to start his own company, or leave for any reason -- unless it's to work for another large company.
I have an MBA, (Master's in Business) which is probably why I find the US healthcare-for-profit business model so shocking. I don't think most people realize that the only thing corporations (like health insurance companies) are required to do is maximize shareholder value. They have no responsibility to their customers at all except as it relates to doing well enough by the customers to keep stock price high. This means that they are essentially required to cover only healthy people, because covering people who might get sick drags down profits and consequently stock price.
This is not how you create a healthy country, either physically or financially.
And now, with the most recent US Supreme Court ruling that corporations can contribute unlimited money to influence elections, all health insurance companies have to do to maintain their profits and stock price is flood the market with millions of dollars in ads to target any politician with the guts to challenge the status quo.
(And by the way, this is now true for anything that might benefit the individual over the corporation. This is probably the scariest ruling by the Supremes in the 21st century when it comes down to its overall effect on our country.)
It's not coincidence that health insurance stocks have soared this week.
Of course, their profits will be at the expense of people like my son and anyone else who's had the audacity to ever get sick, but hey. This is America. Profit trumps all.
I actually read up on the internet about emigrating to Canada last night. No plans to make a move right now, for him or for us, but it's good to know that there are options.
I think I'm going to go cry a little more now.
(If I had more time, I'd go off on a economic-nerd tangent about why the current system is actually anti-business and killing the US entrepreneurial spirit that has made the country something special. Alas, I don't. Maybe some other time.)