Years ago, a former client of mine, who had gone to work for a major insurance company, called with an assignment. I didn't think much of it and accepted the job, happy to get the corporate gig. Turns out, I was writing denial letters to sick people, as in, “Dear So-and-So, Big Health Insurance won't pay for your cancer treatment. Give St. Peter our best. Sincerely, Dr. Asshole, Medical Director.”

I'm embarrassed to say I wrote the letters. I did so because I had made a commitment. But the proper course of action would have been to decline once I realized the nature of the work. The next time she called, however, I was too busy. (Yeah, too busy napping and playing with the cats.) I would rather write computer manuals or suck sewage out of a plane than work for those evil sons of bitches.

So yesterday we saw Michael Moore's latest film, Sicko. Though he presents a heavily biased argument, it's hard to quibble with the data. Canada, France, Germany, England and Costa Rica have higher life expectancies than the United States. Our much-touted best-in-the-world health care system doesn't translate over the aggragate. Or maybe the stress of fighting with insurance companies brings our numbers down? Countries much less wealthy than us provide their citizens--all their citizens--with outstanding health care. England, in the aftermath of the Blitz, did it. Cuba, which has nothing, does it. Are we such unrepentant individualists that we don't care about the sick and infirm? How can we be satisfied with a system that enriches insurance companies at the expense of our bodies? Seeing the kind of benefits the Canadians and Western Europeans enjoy is like traveling to a city with a great transit system. You wonder, how did they do it? And why can't we?

Comments (5) -

August 13. 2007 02:55


I guess in this country it's all about survival of the fittest.  Then again, we don't believe in evolution.

Christie |

August 13. 2007 03:05

Leslie - knitting therapist

To answer your questions:

Apathy and inertia combined with a tremendous sense of "it'll never happen to me" and the notion that some people are "disposable".
We suck it up and pay A LOT of taxes. Like 47% of our total income for the middle class.
Too invested in your own personal "American Dreams".

Not that I mean you personally - just the majority of people that prevent social change like this from happening. You know the ones I mean.

Leslie - knitting therapist |

August 13. 2007 08:33


I'm with you.  I am embarrassed at how we can spend money recklessly messing in the business of others and ignore our own citizens.  Whatever happened to charity beginning at home?

martie |

August 14. 2007 03:44

Stephanie Geyer

Interesting segment on Colorado Matters (NPR) this a.m. with former Gov Lamm who wrote a little book on the subject.

Stephanie Geyer |

August 23. 2007 07:03


When I was in the Army as an optician, the people getting out on a disability discharge where invariably sent to work at our clinic til they finished going through the process and were either discharged or sent back to duty.

They were sent to us because ours was the easiest job in the Army.  Anyway, it was amazing to see how EVERY SINGLE CASE was initially turned down, no matter how severe the disability.  

The really obvious cases like missing limbs or blindness didn't have to go through the process but everyone else did.  There was the kid who took a taxi from the club to the base in Korea and woke up 6 weeks later in the Army hospital in Hawaii because his taxi driver was drunk and wrecked.   There was the guy who had the "fender" of a tank fall on his head and ended up with amnesia and had to relearn his whole life, including reading, writing, tying his shoes, etc.

All turned down initially.  Then they had to start the whole process over and were eventually OK'd for medical discharge.  It's like the Army expected some of these people to say, oh.  Ok.  Never mind.

Stupid waste of time and money.

5elementknitr |

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