your American Dream up for sale

Sicko, a film by Michael MooreWe watched Michael Moore’s Sicko last night and it really made me very sad. What broke my heart the most I think, besides that poor little baby girl who didn’t get to the right hospital in time, were all the happy couples going home with newborn babies. I realize that this must be very selfish of me. But all those free babies! How much did your baby cost you? Mine cost me about $2000. That’s an uncomplicated delivery, with a $300 epidural. This is with good insurance. Before insurance the costs were somewhere close to $20,000. My son is seventeen months old now and we’re still working down the balance, at $50 a month.

Did I mention that we have good insurance, that we are very lucky that my husband’s company pays for most of this good insurance, because a lot of Americans are going without entirely. We are not poor. Not poor at all. But we are certainly not rich enough to dish out $2000 in one fat chunk, on top of all the necessary new-baby supplies – crib, clothes, breast pump, bottles, diapers, and on and on and onÍ

In the 1990’s, my mother was one of those denied cancer patients, whose treatment the insurance companies deemed too experimental. They went ahead with it anyway, even though it didn’t work out. My father was left to pay, if I remember correctly, close to $50,000 out of his pocket. Or more precisely, out of his home equity. And she didn’t live. Can you imagine, losing the love of your life, and everything you worked a lifetime to build, in one single tragic moment?

I am resentful that one of the deciding factors to the question, Should we have another baby? is that we haven’t yet paid off the first one. I am resentful that my doctor has ordered me to get my first mammogram screening, because my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 33, and the first thought on my mind is I wonder how much that is going to cost, and will they try to deny it because I am too young to possibly get cancer, and maybe I should wait until after Christmas.

This is all just so very wrong. And I don’t feel lucky to live in this great land of opportunity, where I have the right to the best health care in the world, if only I am willing to sell my piece of the American Dream for it.

Then after raging with passion last night and this morning, I calmed down and decided to read some reviews of the film, all of which were very good. And I read some opposition to the film, because it’s always a good idea to hear both sides of the argument, even if you don’t agree with it. And in my calm now, I understand that national health care systems probably have their problems too, but if it is working for the rest of the world, why not us? Don’t we deserve better than this?

Even if his documentaries are slightly skewed (and what documentary isn’t?), I admire Michael Moore for his courage to stand up for every one of us with smaller voices. I hope he continues to do so.

And I very much like some of the ideas Hillary Clinton has for reforming our health care system, and I can’t wait to vote for her next fall.