Red State Single Women: Support Single Payer Healthcare, or Stay Virgins

By Josie Brown

pregnantgirlLast week I got a notice from our insurance carrier that our family policy rate was going up — almost 35% (!!!) — oh, and yeah, it’s time for my college age daughter to get a plan of her own: another $159 above and beyond the increase.

Few kids in college can afford to cover their own health insurance policy. Of course Martin and I will do so until she’s making an income that will do so (forget about a plan from an employer: those are becoming as rare as Ugg boots).

Adding to our cost concerns, our deductible is being raised again, and some benefits (I use that term lightly) are no longer included.

We are with Blue Shield of California, whose chief executive officer, Bruce Bodaken, makes over a million dollars in salary and benefits, if the salaries of  his cohorts in other states are any indication.

Considering Mr. Bodaken works for a “not for profit” organization, you’d think I could find the exact amount of his compensation posted somewhere, right? Wrong. (Blue Shield PR shill, if you’re reading this, please feel free to send me a link to this info, if it’s posted anywhere.)

For example, according to the Boston Globe, Cleve L. Killingsworth, chairman and chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, received a whopping increase of 26 percent last year, to $3.5 million, even though the health insurer’s membership declined and its net income fell 49 percent.

In fact, Daily Koz ran a wonderful article recently on health care provider CEO salary compensation packages. They ranged form $717,ooo+  to $24 million. Now, come on: you’re telling me that this is where my monthly fees are going? To help these guys stay rich?

I’m presuming Bruce’s medical insurance is the top-of the-line of the multitude of plans BS CA offers. (BS…stands for….oh, never mind. Use your imagination.)

I said as much to the poor customer service girl on the phone. “And yes, I’m glad these calls are recorded,” I added. “Yo, Bruce, if you’re listening, hope my increase, times the 100s of 1000s of BS subscribers, gets you a nice yacht with all the bells and whistles!”

My customer service honey heard my pain. Here’s hoping Bruce did, too.

He claims to be a proponent of universal healthcare. However, he’s mum on  single payer healthcare. Why? Because that would put him—and all the other so-called “not for profit” healthcare providers out of business.

But I digress. Back to why you need to do, CALL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON RIGHT NOW, especially if you live in a red state (read: Republican congress person or Senator):

Because, one thing missing from my daughter’s plan—as well as 19 of the 25 other plans Blue Shield offers is maternity benefits.

This affects all women of childbearing age. So, yes, I’m talking to all you self-employeds, or barista-workers, or college co-eds, or SoHo’s, or pink collar workers who comprise the bulk of the “individual plans” sold by our country’s (again, so-called not-for-profit) insurance providers.

Seriously, when I went down the list of BS’s “plan comparison chart” and saw this, my jaw dropped onto the table. (Figuratively, not literally, because a hit like that isn’t covered in my health insurance plan. Even those plans that have said dental only cover you for two cleanings, so why bother getting it? I’m just sayin’…)

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a darn minute,” I said to Customer Service Gurl. “My daughter’s not a nun. That said, she’s smart enough to be on the Pill. But still: If, for whatever reason, she were to, say, get pregnant accidentally, she’d have to pay for all the costs of her pregnancy out of pocket?”

“That is correct.”

“You mean, none of these medical expenses will even count toward her deductible?”

“That is correct.”

I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if I were living in a state with Republican elected officials, who seem to want to protect this egregious system that is, quite literally, a rape job.

Then again, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa can’t get pregnant, so why should they care?

But if they could I’m guessing their own Senate healthcare plan has them covered quite nicely for that blessed event.

I will be on the phone to the California State Insurance Commissioner. I will write an op/ed piece and submit it to the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, the Sacramento Bee, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the Orange County Register (the last three of these are Republican bastions).

And then I will call my congresswoman as well as my two senators to let them know I won’t vote for them next time around, if they don’t go to the mat on this one.

Hey, I’m out of the baby business, so I’m not doing this for me: I’m doing this for YOU.

And my daughter.

Whom, by the way, has been informed that should she get pregnant, she should look up the vet of our now deceased mutt, if she wants a doctor there, during the delivery.

Our dentist is way too expensive.

So, what are you doing for yourself? What are you doing for every single woman you know? What are you doing to ensure that your healthcare fees don’t go toward egregious salaries and bigger yachts for guys who could care less that you’re struggling to make your healthcare payments?

I’m asking you these questions because I want you to ask them of your elected officials.

Start with making a few calls:

If you want to call your senators, here are their numbers:

If you want to call your congressperson, here’s the number:

Here’s the deal: CALL TOMORROW, Tuesday June 16, 2009. Ask Mitch and Chuck this question: “Why aren’t I on YOUR insurance plan? Why doesn’t mine have maternity covered, like yours?”

It’s time for President Obama’s health care plan.

No, really, it’s time for him to go to the hoops for a  SINGLE PAYER plan that covers all those things that would put any of us in the poorhouse: you know, injuries from a car wreck; cancer; an emergency appendictomy; a visit to the emergency room.

Sad, isn’t it? You can’t get out of the emergency room in most states for under $1,200.

Ask any college co-ed, whose been there for passing out from a fever ($990+). Or a single mom who’s had to take her child into the ER for a broken finger ($4,400+). Or my twenty-something niece, who went in for an infected gash on her leg ($1,200+).

Oh yeah: and don’t get pregnant. Unless you know a vet who’ll be kind enough to help with your delivery.

But even that bill won’t be cheap.

—Josie Brown Relationship Channel Editor


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