Healthcare in America

Since I’VE gone in the past year and a half from the kind of guy who went to the doc once a year for an annual check-up to someone who seems to spend half his life in and out of clinics and hospitals I’ve gotten a crash course on health care in the good ole US of A, or at least that part of health care that’s open to people who have good but not extravagant health care plans. The rich are the rich and get whatever they want, the poor get the dregs. We in the middle used to be able to get good coverage at a price we could afford but that’s been disappearing. I hope Obamacare changes that but with it’s lack of adequate price controls and give-aways to the insurance industry I’m skeptical.

Our coverage is expensive, this year the monthly premiums exceeded our mortgage payments but fortunately we had paid our mortgage off a year ago. The clinic copays are reasonable, as are the hospital visit and ER copays, but we’ll still reach our family out-of-pocket maximum by the middle of the year All of these are a manageable burden that require shifting priorities, but minor when compared to what others, who face life-threatening illness without good medical coverage face. I have thought often of what someone lacking decent medical insurance or uninsured altogether would do if faced with my cancer and I’m convinced that person would either be dead by now or faced with the grim end-stage effects of the disease like kidney failure and severe and painful bone loss.

I find the situation with health care in America finally improving but still morally unacceptable (read obscene) and far too market oriented, and probably fiscally unsustainable, though I bet if we tapped 10 or 20% of the military budget we could go a ways to solving that part of it. I have avoided writing political poems about my disease and treatment so far, not because the desire isn’t there, but because I’m too close to it all for the kind of objectivity I need to write a decent poem and not simply a rant that would sound too “oh, poor me”and, the worse sin of poetry, boring and predictable. However, if any of you have any thoughts in poetry or prose ( I know you’re out there, oh yea veterans of the bed pan, with some good poems), please feel free to share/let go/unleash.

Rave on, john Donne,
Rave on, my holy one.
Van Morrison


3 thoughts on “Healthcare in America

  1. Frankly, Crazy Cloud, I think that objectivity is the last thing a good poem would need here. I understand and accept your rejection of confessional poetry, but I wonder if that rejection doesn’t miss an important point, that the most personal is often the most universal. It taps into the common thread of our humanity. I say, be subjective, take your experience and run with it, and inject it with every passion you already have and every passion you can muster. It’s a poem that needs to be written. You don’t have to say, “Oh, poor me,” unless you mean it, but we all know you wouldn’t mean it, so why worry about it? I haven’t read a lot of Pema Chodron, and what I read was many years ago, but the one thing I really took away from her writing was the notion that there is strength in utter openness, strength in living with our vulnerabilities exposed, our hearts wide open. I hope you understand that all this is said with tremendous respect for you, godfather to my kid. And I agree with Phil, that your interview with Bob King was incredibly courageous. Although I’ve always tried to see you eye-to-eye, sometimes I look up to you.

  2. Padma,
    I respect your comments on running with the first thought, but I think it’s where that thought emerges from. Does it emerge from a ground of stillness or one of confusion and anger? My short, meditative poems are first thought poems written after doing zazen in some form. It may be after sitting for 25 minutes or it may simply be sitting at my desk and doing what’s called “one breath zazen” — stepping out of your ordinary mind for a few seconds, taking one or two or a few slow deep breaths with the focus fully on the breath and the physical sensation of breathing. So I think whether or not “first thought best thought” leads to “first chicken scratchings good chicken scratchings ” depends upon the ground from which the thoughts arise.

    To give others who wish to comment the space to do so, I’ll reserve further comments, this doesn’t become only a conversation between the two of us. I hope others will be inspired to write not only in good ole margin-to-margin linear thought prose but bucolic butterfly flitting amongst the begonias, lost soul wandering the bardo, or angry mosquitos swarming your face poetry.

  3. padma & michael

    ah, maybe you’re both right. certainly the courage of utter openess is the only way to face dis-ease, the blank page, the still night, the dew upon the leaf, let alone doctors & nurses & drugs & vomit. so the why wait-blow thy horn of oracular come-out-w/-itness makes sense, yet caution seems wise as ye are firstmost a patient getting well & that’s the heart of every interaction. anyway, what’s a political poem but a doorway into liberty & from what ye hath said of health care in amelica there is perhaps already the outlines of a great beast of a poem…

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