[This post serves as something of a followup to my recent blog, “The Medical Industrial Complex’s Attack on the Right to Live.”]
Because I will be covering how politicians and the media are both complicit, I was going to title this blog post, “The Medical Industrial Complex: Media and Politician Inattention and What You Can Do About It.” As I thought about it, I realized such a change is not necessary. The Media Industrial Complex really does function as something like a fourth branch of the government, and given a whole variety of factors that I might write about some other time, politicians both behave and are treated like media icons, not politicians or intellectuals per se.
Basic health care is under attack by both the healthcare system (i.e., insurance), the elite, and the media. Obamacare, the Affordable Healthcare Act, was designed as a positive step in making more equitable conditions for people in the United States. As I wrote about last week, insurance companies in Texas (and elsewhere) are making so many changes to their policies that they have the consequence of canceling Obamacare. Then, this morning, this article comes across my newsfeed: UnitedHealth Group is considering not offering any Obamacare plans in 2017 because it cut into its $5,000,000,000+ profit. This is when the CEO
earned was given $66,000,000 in 2014.
After writing my blog last week I contacted a variety of newspapers, news networks, and politicians. After sending well over 100 emails to different places, I received a total of four replies — one saying “yeah, it’s problem,” another asking “What is the ACA?,” and one other this past Thursday from President Barack Obama – albeit a somewhat generic reply.
Dear Professor Andrew Joseph:
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s clear you have faced great challenges, and I want you to know I am listening. For too long, Americans have struggled under a broken health care system. And while I’m working to fix that, your email shows we have more to do.
Every person deserves quality, affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act is helping to make that a reality, and people are beginning to know the security health insurance provides. However, too many individuals and their loved ones still need assistance. As long as I hold this Office, I will do everything in my power to help them receive the care they need.
You can visit http://www.HealthCare.gov to learn if you are still eligible to enroll in coverage for 2015 and http://www.HealthFinder.gov/FindServices to see what resources are available to you. Also, you should know the requirement to purchase health coverage or make an individual responsibility payment only applies to those who can afford it. Information about exemptions is available at http://www.HealthCare.gov/Exemptions.
You can find information about Medicare at http://www.Medicare.gov and Medicaid at http://www.Medicaid.gov. And those seeking help with health care can also call the Department of Health and Human Services at 1‑877‑696‑6775.
Thank you, again, for reaching out. Hearing from people like you fills me with resolve to ensure the Affordable Care Act—and our health system as a whole—is working for everyone, and I will keep your message in mind in the days and months ahead.
Given that millions around the nation are going to soon be stuck with insurance plans in 2016 that are almost useless and (based on what I know from working with students) will probably not realize it until too late, I was really hoping someone might be interested in doing some kind of big story about it.
I contacted Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Wendy Davis, Annise Parker, Michael More, George Takei, and many, many others – no reply so far.
I contacted Melissa Harris-Perry, The Rachel Maddow Show, NPR, New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Salon, Associated Press, Huffington Post, and many others – no reply so far.
With a tiny handful of exceptions, the media has not reported on the lack of healthcare options in Texas (and elsewhere). If Salon or Huffington Post, for example, covered this crisis, social media would be in a firestorm that could maybe, just maybe, create positive pressure and change and allow people to continue living. Or, at least many more people would know what is happening.
So, what can we do about this? In ways, not so much. Society does not provide the typical person, even those benefited by various Privilege Systems, access or voice to really be heard or represented. Social media for sure helps and pushes those in power, but at the end of the day, those in the top 1% control much and have the most say because money.
That we live in a society, as articulated by the main character in the excellent film My Name is Khan (and others, too, of course), where the average person cannot meet and have a conversation with the President of the United States is sad.
Besides writing blogs; reading and sharing blogs; using social media; and/or writing politicians, there are three very simple things we can all do.
First, continue living. The simple act of living and being as happy as possible equals resistance against the status quo and the evils of what we call capitalism.
Second, patronize The University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Children’s Art Project. Products include cards for all occasions, shirts, calendars, and all kinds of other gifts. Prices are a bit higher compared to other places, but 100% of the proceeds go back to those who are or were patients at M.D. Anderson as children. For example, the sales of Children’s Art Project products has paid for the vast majority of my college education. As a teenager, I went on a dozen or so field trips with others my age and doctors and nurses from the hospital–all expenses paid–including a three day trip to San Antonio.
Third, buy products on Amazon using http://smile.amazon.com. Doing so will give you the option to select a charity that will receive a portion of your purchase. There are many worthy charities and organizations, of course, but I have mine set to the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation.
And there is one big thing we can all do – press for a “Medicare for All” system.
(And if you are reporter, please, please help bring attention to these issues. I’ll help. If you know a reporter, please ask them to help!)
Thank you for reading.