Universal Coverage, the novel…

My novel, Universal Coverage, came out late in 2009. Now with the Supreme Court decision, may I shamelessly recommend this book for those who would like a preview of what’s to come? Go ahead, read it. Won’t hurt a bit. Here’s the cover.

Cover of Daniel Putkowski’s novel, Universal Coverage.

And a brief look at the inside, which gives a peek of the attitude of some people in the story.

As always, you can find the book on Amazon.com where it is also available for Kindle. Happy reading! (But be warned, this book is a lot like 1984.)

Universal Coverage or not?

Here is an excerpt from my novel, Universal Coverage. Think about it while Congress throws the Constitution out the window and your freedom in the trash.

The phone rang. He stared past it at the framed stock certificate on the wall. Something happened between the time his father received his dividends and this day. Smith never envisioned he would face disaster without a penny saved or a dollar in reserve. Nor had he expected to lack the gasoline to go wherever he wanted. The idea that whatever he needed might not be at hand was an absolute impossibility.

This was not the future he’d anticipated nor the one he’d been promised. He wasn’t supposed to be giving a little to get a little. He was supposed to have on demand care without ever seeing the bill. That’s what Universal Coverage meant. That’s what he voted for. That’s what twelve percent of his pay bought.

Without a doubt, it paid for financial security. He wasn’t flush with cash, but nor was he in danger of losing his house, his vehicles, or anything else. He hadn’t so much as seen a bill for any of Timmy’s checkups. But what it did not buy was the timely installation of his son’s pacemaker, something he wanted more than anything else.

He picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“It’s me, Ralph. My cell must have dropped our call. Did you come up with something good for my girl?”

“No,” Smith answered.

“No? Oh, okay. I got it. You need some time. No worries. I won’t say anything to her now. I’ll wait until I hear from you. That way I can sell it to her as a special surprise. How does that sound?”

It sounded pathetic to Smith, who conjured up a witty retort but let it fade inside his growing shame.

“Have a good weekend,” he said, hanging up.

The only person who deserved the money was the doctor who implanted Timmy’s pacemaker. Anyone else was nothing more than a parasite taking something for nothing. Smith was ready to part with any of his worldly possessions, and if he had to mortgage his soul to make Timmy well, he’d do that, too. Either way, he’d be damned if he peddled his wife’s baubles for better odds against the sharks who ran the Universal Coverage pool.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mowing Hugo’s Lawn

The Daily Gut is Greg Gutfeld’s blog. I highly recommend it. The man knows what he’s talking about and writes with wit and flair. His latest post struck a chord with me, in particular because he mentions how socialism is never portrayed for what it is in the popular media culture. He hit the nail on the head with a big hammer and here’s the link to that post:

http://www.dailygut.com/?i=4478

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, let me say to Greg and the world, that my novel, Universal Coverage, portrays socialized medicine for what it may become here in the United States. So there is at least one canary singing the coal mine of culture. It is an interesting analysis to ask why more media elites don’t establish residency in the socialist worker paradises of Venezuela, North Korea, or even France. Truly these places embody the values of socialism and that’s what the elites of the United States advocate. I mean, if there’s a party going on and they’re your type of crowd, why not join in? Well, because then you’d have to give up the palace in Malibu, the penthouse on Madison, and the drivers, jets, clothes, tortured food, and baubles that make your elite life the stuff of proletariat ire.

Wait a minute! Was that a contradiction in what you want for yourself versus the rest of us? Uh, oh. Now what?

Don’t worry, fly private back to your hypocritical lair where you can sip that spectacular Bordeaux, discuss your newest Hermes scarf, and dream of another propaganda piece to convince the masses that you’re really looking out for them.

Unhappy Healthcare

Aruba enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, summed up by the motto, “One Happy Island.” Tourists and natives alike enjoy the virtually unlimited sunshine and wide beaches, not to mention the fine restaurants, fantastic Carnival celebrations, and action packed water sports.

However, many Arubans are less than pleased with their single-payer health care system known by the initials AZV. A payroll tax funds AZV, which disburses payments to care providers. While every citizen is eligible for coverage, many do not utilize the benefits. In effect, they pay twice: once in the taxes assessed on their wages, and again through cash payments to providers or in premiums for supplemental insurance policies.

But why would someone pay extra when they are supposed to have coverage under AZV?

Long waits are one of the biggest factors. One fellow, Paul, answered, “My son had a respiratory problem. How long was I supposed to wait?” His son was not able to see a specialist without first consulting a primary care physician. This delay, which could have been a week or longer, was unacceptable. Paul took his son to nearby Venezuela where he was seen by a doctor within a few hours of stepping off the plane. Thanks to a private medical insurance policy Paul maintains in Venezuela for just such emergencies, the cost was minimal. As for the care, he couldn’t be happier. The doctor personally called several times to see how the boy was doing as well as to inquire about the effectiveness of prescribed medications.

Similarly, Donato was unhappy with substandard treatment of various skin lesions. For several years, his doctor in Aruba told him he had nothing to worry about. Finally, at his brother’s behest, he visited a specialist in Colombia who informed him that a dozen growths needed to be removed immediately. Although confident in the Colombian doctor’s diagnosis, Donato sought an independent second opinion in that country to be sure. He had one the next day and it concurred with the first. His surgery took place before the week was over. Now he flies to Colombia every year for checkups. The most expensive part is the airfare, but Donato doesn’t mind. He makes a vacation of the trip, taking his wife and children who also see doctors for regular checkups while he visits his dermatologist. “If you let it go,” Donato says, “this is the kind of thing can be very bad.”

There are doctors in Aruba who operate strictly private practices. They do not accept AZV payments, which are considerably lower than fees charged to patients outside the system. One doctor said, “My practice does not operate on sunshine. There are bills to pay, supplies to purchase, and my time is worth something more than the [AZV] board budgets.” These practitioners take some of the pressure off the public clinics, but they are also operating at full capacity. “I want to give them my best,” the same doctor reflected. “That means I can see only so many people each day.”

Hence, Roberto also goes to Colombia for treatment of a chronic nerve condition. He would prefer to avoid the extra expense and get the full value of his tax payments to AZV. Nonetheless, he simply can’t get the care he needs nor the medicine required to control his pain. “AZV takes too long and sometimes my private doctor can’t see me,” he says. “So when I have a flare up, I get on the plane.”

Direct cash payment may have something to do with the quick response times of these physicians in other countries. Paul (mentioned above) commented, “I know the doctor in Venezuela charged me more to look at my son than he earned seeing his regular patients all day. Still, it is affordable to me.”

The Arubans who travel off-island for healthcare generally describe their experiences in glowing terms. They speak of the doctors as caring, honest, and sincere. They frequently mention that the cost of treatment is affordable, although last minute airfares sometimes break the budget as in Roberto’s case.

When asked their opinion on healthcare reform in the United States, they shake their heads and shrug. “Maybe see what we have here and think about what you’re doing,” Roberto comments, adding, “Learn Spanish in case it doesn’t go so good.”

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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