By Dave Patterson
If you want to understand one reason the Occupy Wall Street people are camped out, watch the 1973 movie Soylent Green. In this movie the elderly are euthanized and converted into biscuits to feed the overpopulated earth. When introduced in 1973, it was a horrifying thought, but now reality brings us a healthcare system that is worse, much worse.
In the Soylent Green version of America, when your productive life runs out they put you into the food chain. In today’s reality version of America, they turn you into a cash cow — that is, until your heart stops. But don’t expect your heart to stop quickly when so many stand to make such big profits on a few more beats.
When my mother languished in a hospital cardiac unit for months with lung disease, they wouldn’t let me take her home to die, because in their words, “for her to leave she needed to do it on her own power.” Instead they continually jammed a ventilator down her throat, ripping apart her esophagus day after day to keep her blood oxygen level high enough that her heart wouldn’t stop.
My mother had become part of the money chain where the drug companies, corporate healthcare providers and investors were becoming rich. Today we can’t even ask the doctors to help us die, because the corporatists masquerading as moralists will throw them in jail. Today’s medical system is much worse than that portrayed in Soylent Green.
My wife went to the drug store to purchase a prescription recently. Our cost because we have insurance was $5, where the same prescription without insurance would have been $95. My friend uses inhalers that cost $20 when paid for by Medicare, but $250 when they fall into the doughnut hole, or if you don’t qualify for insurance. Another acquaintance receives four doses of chemotherapy a month at $4,000 per dose, paid for by insurance.
What would we all do without insurance except suffer and die? These are clear examples of why we do not want to be on our own trying to negotiate for our healthcare and drugs. Being on your own is like going to court without a lawyer, not smart and almost a guarantee that you will lose.
Try looking for a nursing home for a parent that needs constant care. They want all their assets, all their retirement, Social Security and easily $5,000 a month paid for by the children. Hard choices for families where both parents must work and can’t stay home to provide elder care. The only guarantee now is that when we die, we and our children, will have been sucked dry of all our wealth by the profit machine.
Healthcare went up another 9 percent last year and the average markup on drugs at the distributor is now at 650 percent. This madness is driven by public trading of the healthcare and drug companies, where constant increases in profits are required to stay in business.
Moreover in places like France, and other places with socialized medicine, the government won’t let the drug companies charge like they can here in the wild west of thievery. Thus, we pay more in the form of an unregulated subsidy to make up for the low profits in other places.
Here is how I see our future as elderly and infirm citizens of our wonderful nation. We can expect to have many years languishing on a gurney receiving doses of extremely high-cost drugs designed to give us a few extra heartbeats, so others can profit handsomely. You and I will be converted into a moneymaking machine for the medical, pharmaceutical and all the other healthcare businesses.
Our legacy will be that we will have served our system well as soldiers of the money chain. You will not be able to terminate your life as an alternative, like they did in Soylent Green, because anyone who helps you will go to jail and become part of the corporate incarceration business, where profits are also wonderful.
The future of our healthcare cannot change unless we change it, through forced conversion to a nonprofit structure and/or government takeover of the entire system.
The Occupy Wall Street people bring to our attention that the current system is unsustainable, undesirable and must be changed now.
Dave Patterson is a Ramona resident.