If I am dead next week, someone get in touch with Malcolm Turnbull, tell him that Medicare killed me and that I will be coming back to haunt him.
A couple of weeks ago I had a cold, like everyone else in Melbourne. No big deal, hot tea and bed for a few days and I’ll be fine. Well, I should have been. But I wasn’t. I got a weird rash on my leg and couldn’t shake exhaustion, headaches and feeling sick all the time. Over the last two weeks the rash got gross and painful and I felt worse and worse. Immediate and obvious thing to do is go to a doctor, right? But I couldn’t. Going to my doctor requires having $80 to pay up front, a day to wait for $30 to come back and another $30 for medication. I didn’t have that. So I waited and hoped it would get better.
Turns out staphylococcus infections don’t just get better, they get worse. A lot worse. Very quickly.
So now I am sick, quite sick. And it’s going to take weeks, maybe months to get better. I’m going to be seeing quite a bit of my doctor and taking a lot of strong (and expensive) antibiotics.
I’ve just started a new job, short term, but it’s paid work a friend got for me to help me out of the financial hole I was in. I’m now not sure if I’m going to be able to do that job, I don’t know if me and my flesh-eating bacteria are even going to be allowed to go back to the office.
Two weeks ago it would have been a five-minute appointment and a single dose of antibiotics. I’d have been back at work, paying taxes and strong enough to do the job well, maybe even made myself valuable enough to keep on. Proper taxpaying contributing healthy citizen I would have been.
But no. Staph infections, when they get a good grip, can be dangerous, even fatal. I’m an otherwise very healthy adult so that’s highly unlikely to happen, but it’s not unheard of. Much more concerning, my daughter, who has a weak immune system, and my mother, who has a heart problem, were exposed. That shit is really serious. So both of them will be off to their doctor to be checked, treated and monitored.
The overall cost to the health system and the tax revenue of this gross stupidity is exponentially more than one free appointment two weeks ago.
All the political blather about mediscare and the unmanageable costs of healthcare during the election were such bullshit. Mine is just one story among millions: preventative health care, fast and effective treatment of small sickness cost money, but they cost a lot less than treating serious illness.
No one ever looks at the defence budget and says we can’t afford it, we have to cut back, or implement a user pays system. Defence is a necessity that no one dares question. We cut back on other things to pay for it.
Health care, apparently, isn’t something we can afford. We’re told we just have to accept that and find a way to deal with it.
Again, bullshit. The truth is we can’t afford to cut back on health care, if we make it too expensive for people to access when they need it, it costs all of us far too much.
If I lose my job over this I will be cross, if I die I will be furious. And I will be back to haunt everyone involved, that will be my only consolation, but it won’t be nearly enough.