How are you feeling?

It’s an innocuous question– one that we ask almost daily of our family, friends, and acquaintances.  Especially those who have had recent health problems.

“How are you feeling?”

The responses may vary widely:  “Good, bad, better, not so good today, OK, today was good, yesterday wasn’t so great;” and so on.

But overall, in just about every general, middle-class situation, you can pretty much assume that your family, friends and acquaintances are feeling, at least, “pretty good.”

So what happens when the ability to feel “pretty good” is taken away from you?

What happens if you fall ill and have to be hospitalized?  What happens if your illness will require a major life change?  What happens if your illness turns out to be cancer, or diabetes, or lung disease, or a tumor?

And what happens if your insurance company decides that the treatment you need– and so rightly deserve as a human being, if not just a citizen of the United States of America– is denied coverage by their system?

Thankfully, this has not happened to me.  Yet.  With all the health issues and problems I’ve faced in the last few months and years, I’ve somehow been able to remain covered by whatever health plan my job has offered to me.

But I’m a very lucky person. There are thousands, probably millions of others who are not so lucky.

It’s easy to assume that these people would include the poor, homeless, or lower middle-class.  And while these people do, indeed, suffer at the hands of the medical system in our country, they are not the only ones.  Anyone– regardless of income, status, race, background, or previous medical history– can easily be denied the health care they need.  All it takes is the stroke of the pen (or in some cases, the electronic version of someone’s signature on a form letter) of an official at any of our ‘esteemed’ insurance providers in the United States of America to deny us the care we need.

All so they can curb their profits.

And let’s not even start on the pharmaceutical companies.  The prices they charge for their drugs is nothing short of obscene.  When I look at what my mom pays for her prescriptions it turns my stomach.  Here is a woman who lives on a measly  $1000 or so from Social Security per month, works part time as much as she can to maintain that Social Security check, and gets a small pension from her job as a nurse from which she retired in 1995.  Her combined total income is just under $2000 a month.  From that $2000, she has to pay her utility bills, her mortgage payment, and her taxes every year.  And then she has to eat– so she has to buy groceries.  What’s left of that goes toward her prescriptions– and at age 64, living on Medicare, she has to pay close to $1,000 in prescription costs alone.

Sure, my mom makes a little over $28,000 a year in combined income– but once you start chipping away at that amount, it doesn’t add up to much more than a drop in a very deep barrel.  This is how we are treating our Senior Citizens?  This is how we are treating our sick and our poor?  This is how we are treating the people that need medical care the most?

That, my friends, is what makes me sick.

I just finished watching a very important documentary, and I think you should watch it as well.  It is titled “Sicko” and it is by the notorious, yet brilliant director Michael Moore.  It’s offered at Google Video at the moment, and as we all know it could be removed from the site at any time.  But I urge you, if you care at all about the status of the health care system in the United States, or have ever wondered how things run in other countries, to watch this movie now.  Click on this link, then click on “Full Movie.”  Devote 2 hours and 3 minutes of your time and pay attention.  And find out just how bad it really is… and how good it really could be.

Then come back here and tell me what you thought and felt.

NOTE/CAVEAT:  This movie has not been released to the general public as of yet.  Its official release date is June 29, 2007.  And while I do not condone piracy, in this instance, the author himself has stated (about his previous film “Fahrenheit 9-11”) the following regarding online availability of his movies:

“I don’t agree with copyright laws, and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it…as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labor. I make these movies and books and TV shows because I want things to change, and so the more people who get to see them, the better.”

As far as I’m concerned, watch it now, and then buy a copy when it comes out on DVD– or watch it again in the theaters.  Bring friends.  Bring enemies.  Just make sure people see this movie.

Thanks for allowing me this soapbox moment.  Hope you’re having a nice day…

…and that you’re feeling well.