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Me? A liberal?

by Dale Ellis Saturday, Nov. 22, 2003 at 2:52 AM
(501) 362-2425

After looking at Canada, I've become a real fan of some kind of national health plan. Of course, that would lead to big government and higher taxes, but maybe it's us little guys got a little something for our money, too.

Heber Springs Sun-Times, November 20, 2003

A reader of this column recently called me up to take me to task over some comments I made about Rush Limbaugh. You remember him, don't you? The "get tough on drugs for all the junkies but me" talking ditto head? Yeah.

During the course of the conversation, it became apparent that this particular reader and I didn't agree on a number of things, which is fine. Also during the conversation the reader accused me of being a liberal.

A liberal? Me? Gosh, I sure hope my dad doesn't find out he spent all those years feeding, clothing, and sheltering a liberal under his roof. But the truth is, the more I look around at our "kinder, gentler," conservative society, the more I feel completely out of step with the conservative philosophy I've embraced for so many years. And the last straw, the one that broke the camel's back, finally came. In fact, it was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

That would be the straw that came in the form of a letter informing me that my health insurance company has decided to kindly decline any payment of any doctor's bills resulting from a recent car accident I was involved in that landed me in the emergency room. No doubt, the accident was my fault. I'll not be disputing that or making any excuses. No matter how liberal I get in my declining years I'll always believe first and foremost in personal responsibility.

Which is why I've always carried insurance on my car, my house, my health, my life, my water heater, virtually anything that can break down, fall down, get hurt or die.

My car insurance company paid most of what was left owed on my car, leaving me with a few hundred bucks to pay. This was after all the years of premiums I've paid in to them with no option of telling them I would only pay off 80 percent or so of the value of the policy. That is an option apparently reserved only for insurance companies, not their customers.

Then came the hospital bills. I've paid in my health insurance premiums faithfully for years and rarely go to the doctor. So imagine my surprise when I received notice from my insurance company that as long as I've been paying those fairly hefty premiums, I can go ahead and pay the bills too. Thanks guys.

A friend of mine had a checkup last year due to a lump on her neck that concerned her doctor. Could have been a thyroid disorder, she was told. It turned out she has a skinny neck. A recent inquiry into health insurance yielded the result that the company would be happy to insure her health. But, since the insurance company checked her doctor's records and discovered she had had her thyroid checked out, they placed a rider on her policy to disallow any coverage of thyroid problems for the rest of her life. Not only that, the company is apparently charging her an extra twenty-five bucks a month to not cover her thyroid.

Never mind that the records indicated only that her thyroid was checked out and found to be just fine. Let's hope they never find out her heart is in good shape too.

My mom went through a battle several years ago as she tried to quit smoking. Many insurance companies will no longer cover prescriptions for Zyban, one of the most effective smoking cessation products on the market. Why? Because it can be used for smoking cessation.

Yeah, they actually said it.

Wellbutrin, the generic equivalent of Zyban is also disallowed, even though it is used to treat a variety of emotional disorders. Why? Because it also can be used for smoking cessation.

Yeah, they actually said that, too.

Sure, insurance companies should be concerned about the health of their customers, but not, apparently, to the point where they are willing to do anything as they attempt to distance themselves from one of the number-one killers in the world.

Insurance companies cracked down several years ago, ostensibly to stem the rising cost of health care, to stop the tide of uninsured drivers, and to cure whatever other ills of mankind assail us. But the practical result, at least from where I'm sitting, has been to insure a steady inflow of cash into the insurance company bank accounts while keeping a tight rein on how much goes out to the people who depend on them.

After looking at Canada, I've become a real fan of some kind of national health plan. Sure, it would involve government control. Of course, that would lead to big government. Absolutely, we would pay high taxes to pay for it all.

Right now, all we have are big government controlling much of our daily lives and high taxes to pay for it all. Maybe it's time some of us little guys got a little something for our money, too. If that makes me a liberal, then so be it.
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