Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Civil Condescension

Perhaps I'm channeling a bit of Sen. Obama when I say this, but it's no wonder why people who are, let's say, underprivliaged feel angry about their situations.

Last night during dinner, my poor darling broke his tooth. Last summer, he had had a root canal performed on it, but due to the way this country treats immigrants (*grumbles*), and the fact that it's impossible to pay for health care in cash (*grumbles louder*), he was unable to have a crown placed on it - leaving it unprotected. He claims he is in no pain, but I'm sure once the filling begins to shift, he might be rather uncomfy and a little grumpy. This means we have to act fast and can't wait with high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes that I'll actually land a job with decent benefits.

When looking for a fee-reduced clinic in the area, I happened upon two sites. The first site offered zero information about fees and services. The second offered my inspiration for this post.

Out of mere curiosity, I clicked on services offered -> prenatal care. Everything looked perfectly dandy until I read about what they like to call "baby cash." "Baby cash" is essentially coupons earned through acts of good conduct. Yes, just like the gold stars on the chart in kindergarten, moms-to-be can earn coupons to purchase things like diapers, wipes, and breast feeding items by the following:

  • Keeping clinic appointments
  • Keeping home visit appointments
  • Signing up for WIC (a baby food/needs voucher program)
  • Taking childbirth classes
  • Taking breast-feeding classes
  • Learning infant CPR
  • Early Head Start
  • Taking classes to learn English or to earn GED
  • Stop smoking
  • Visiting our dietitian or social worker
Hmm. Mayhaps I'm quite naive, but does a woman really need to earn coupons for free diapers as incentive (besides, you know, the small fetus sprouting in her uterus) to leave the cancer sticks in the ashtray? And since when does learning English make you a better mom? And maybe I'm paranoid, but let's not forget to mention the assumption here: since you are at the reduced-fee clinic, you are irresponsible and uneducated. I don't know about anyone else, but that's what the highlighted list items speak to me.

I realize that there are irresponsible women who do get knocked up and continue to live a reckless lifestyle. But for the vast majority of people visiting this clinic, their reasoning is they simply cannot afford $180 doctor's appointments every week. It has absolutely nothing to do with their choices, lifestyle or education level. 46.6 million Americans do not carry health insurance coverage, and who can afford to pay full price for nine month's worth of private OBGYN services and a hospital stay?

And let's say, for example, an expecting mother does need someone to look after her to make sure she gets the care she and her baby need. Does she really benefit by someone treating her like a child and spoon feeding her like this? She needs a mentor, yes. A support circle, yes. But she does not need someone micromanaging her every step, praising her for things she does that she should do anyway. It reminds me of finding my cat, Alex, in the litter box and telling him he's a good boy for not dumping on the carpet.

Perhaps I'm being way too critical of a much-needed service that doctors in my community are willing to provide. But, after reading their policies, I feel like they will judge me for an irresponsible and uneducated individual who has given up on all my responsibilities and needs someone to rehabilitate me to adulthood.

In society, it's much easier to pretend that people poorer and less educated than you are not as civilized. It's much easier to patronize than offer a hand-up. People in their ivory towers must never have experienced hardship, or they forgot the feeling. Life is full of seasons - and sometimes people just fall into the uninsured category by no true fault of their own.

Our economy has evolved into a system where the middle class has disappeared, and the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. For me, I'm in my twenties and trying to find myself and stay afloat while elevating myself in academia. I see people like my father supporting their families (he's not supporting me, mind you - but that's another post some other day). He hates his job, but can't leave or advance because if he does, he risks deflating his standard of living and losing the health coverage and benefits his family needs. This is the story for most of this country. The republican government, of course, only sees the suffering of corporations, and the "little people" are not important enough snag some attention. When they are noticed, a little cash is thrown their way in hopes they'll go buy some bread and keep their mouths shut for a little while longer. This ideology of patronizing the individual for their less-than-standard lifestyle trickles down from the Washington Big Wigs, and into situations like a community clinic.

There is no reason why someone seeking reasonably priced health care should be prejudged and treated in such a condescending fashion. I'm sure if they could afford REAL health care - they wouldn't bother with your stupid policies and elitist attitude. And if you really wanted to help, you'd skip the BS and just give them then damn diapers for free.

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