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I Hate That This Is Necessary

So everybody knows Dustin Harbin, right? Active up and down indie comics, one of the folks who’ve helped put on HeroesCon (the newest iteration of which is Friday-Sunday next week), gentleman beloved by all that have met him? And, as of a little bit ago, the latest recipient of access to medical care¹:

Hey guys: a couple weeks ago I faceplanted on my bicycle and — short version — they had to reattach the bones of my upper jaw to my skull and I lost 3+ teeth, Guess who doesn’t have insurance? I’ve set up a GoFundMe for what will be some large large bills:

Let’s get what passes for good news out of the way: as of this writing — approximately six hours after Harbin posted his tweet and eighteen since the fundraiser went up — he’s over US$23.5K; he originally was looking to raise US$25K, but surgery being what it is, he’s raised his estimated need to US$75K. I donated, and if it’s in your means to do so, I’d request you join the 400+ people that have done so already.

I hate that this is necessary. I hate that quality of healthcare you’re entitled to in this country depends on your ability to leverage social networks. I work a corporate, technical job with what’s likely a 90th percentile health insurance plan and I know that one bad diagnosis would still result in bills that would bankrupt me. It shouldn’t be like this, every other country in the world manages to not be like this, and it needs to change.

If I had smashed up my face like Harbin did² my insurance would probably find a way to soak me for a few thousand dollars — which I have a far greater ability to absorb, not being self-employed in the arts — and I’d complain about it, and the hassle of getting fixed up, but I’d eventually get fixed up to a reasonably high quality end state.

I do not deserve this more than Dustin Harbin.

I do not deserve to pay US$20 for a three month supply of meds that I require on a daily basis instead of wondering how I’m going to get by because a drug company decides to discontinue low-margin drugs or jack prices up by 100,000% because they can³. I am not more worthy of good health because I have a good job because I had a good education because my family was able to pay for it because they didn’t have to worry about medical needs sucking us dry because my father had a good job because he had a good education because Jesus tapdancing Christ I’m at least four generations from anything resembling bootstraps.

Nobody wants this. Go Fund Me doesn’t want this, despite the fact a full third of their income has been from campaigns for medical expenses. Our economy and everybody that lives here would be infinitely better off if medical bankruptcy weren’t a thing. But a cabal of super-rich are existentially offended by the idea of paying a proportional amount of their wealth in taxes for the common good and then give relative pittances in charity4.

None of this needs to be the case. None of this should be the case. If you don’t want any of this to be the case, give what you can to Harbin, and then give to/support candidates for political office who are willing to say that healthcare is a godsdamned human right so we don’t have to do all this again in a week.

Spam of the day:

It is a new “super” antenna that is able to capture TV signals through the air like no other antenna ever could.

It is a piece of wire that is between 01.x and 10x the wavelength of the signal it’s trying to capture. In the US, that’s between 54 and 806MHz, or from 0.37-5.5m, so a hunk of wire 50-100cm long would do it. It was not developed by a NASA engineer using military technology, except that I suppose somebody in the military uses technology like tape measures, wire clippers, and plug crimpers. Fuck outta here with this bullshit.

¹ No word yet if he was seen at St Biden’s Memorial.

² And I damn near did when I was 16. I was also thrown headfirst from my bike, but I landed right side supraorbital instead of facefirst. I managed not to crack my skull, managed not to break my neck, but also managed to pierce my right ear in seven places. The fact that I landed on gravel — which skidded beneath me — instead of on hardscape probably saved my life.

³ Fun fact! My wife worked for a company that got bought by Mallinckrodt years ago. They treated their employees like shit.

4 Which is then leveraged into a tax break. For the record, I’ve ranged between 8-12% charitable giving for the past ten years, less for the past couple since my wife’s been back in school and not working.

Your argument is one-sided. Just to present an opposite point of view: American insurance providers don’t send people across the border to get taken care of in Canadian hospitals, and rich Americans don’t typically fly to Europe to get better healthcare over there.

By the way, I am not super-rich, but I have actually lived under nationalized healthcare in three different European countries, government-paid healthcare in the US, and private healthcare in the US.

Is the system unfair? Heck yeah. But under our system, the middle-class generally has access to high-quality healthcare with minimal wait times, whereas under nationalized healthcare, only the wealthy can afford private insurance in addition to their government-mandated.

Also, one of the reasons prescription drugs are so high here is because many European governments limit the amount manufacturers can charge, so they raise the rates here to make up the difference. If we adopted similar laws, then a lot of these companies would be operating at a loss, and would quickly go out of business, and new companies would have little reason to invest in that sector, resulting in less research and less frequent advances.

I am honestly pretty tired of Americans who have never lived under socialized healthcare and Europeans/Canadians who have never lived under private healthcare just assuming one system is better than the other with no evidence. (Don;t know whether you personally fall into this group, but most people I hear this kind of one-sided argument from certainly do.) There are problems with both systems, but having lived under both, I know which one I prefer.

I would love it if we could all have the kind of healthcare system most Americans seem to *think* Europe and Canada have. But until someone can show me how to actually achieve that ideal (instead of aiming for it and ending up with what Europe and Canada *actually* have), I won’t be voting for anyone likely to try and implement nationalized healthcare here, thank you.

Your argument makes zero sense. Why would insurers that deny payments on things they are supposed to cover spring for medical transport across an international border?

And if my argument is one sided, it’s the side of somebody who has spent more than a dozen years providing health care and who can tell you for a godsdamned fact that a) the middle class does not generally have access with minimal wait times, and b) having access to healthcare that will bankrupt you is not healthcare. It is a mechanism for extracting money from the poorest of us and transferring it to the wealthiest.

Two-thirds of all bankruptcies in this country are because people used that access to not die. Profiteering, price-fixing, and cartel behavior on generic drugs is causing people to decide whether formerly-cheap drugs will be bought this month, or food.

And everybody I’ve known that has experienced healthcare overseas? From all walks of life, and all income levels? Uniformly wants to have universal access. Anything less is an argument that some people don’t deserve to live.

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