We All Have Blue Cross To Bear

jacquie-with-helmetsHelmets from both sides, now.

Just got a brain stimulating article about the hidden cost of bike helmet laws. The subtitle: “You Can’t Afford Them”

That bit about ‘you can’t afford them’ might be wrong in the USA. After all, many Americans still own homes, which are likely to be liquidated (sold) when a health issue lasting longer than a couple of days arises.   Put another way,  in order to keep their taxes low,  Americans are willing to risk their own home when a crisis arises.  I guess nobody’s figured that out yet, huh?

Our country has a ‘health’ system that is for profit,  which means there’s incentive (wealth) for companies to keep people sick.

A great way to keep them sick is to immobilize them.  In a “Mustang-Cougar-Jaguar-Tiger GT Wheelchair”!   General Murders  claim they ARE America, and they maintain that a big chunk of our economy runs thanks to them, and businesses around them. Like trauma care from the half  million maimed per year to the many millions in chronic disrepair

THUS: cycling for personal transportation is a Threat to the American Way.

TEHN any steps taken to promote cycling, such as policy changes (‘Idaho Stop Law“, where cyclers YIELD at stop signs) could be aiding and abetting an activity that threatens the American way.

On my desk sits Consumer Reports May 2009: “Hazardous Health Plans“. Inside the story I learned (yet again) that California (unlike, say Massachusetts) allows the sale of “hell plans”  that have LARGE GAPS. Charlie’s and my  combined 8 years of college  in engineering and literature seem inadequate to the task of de-ciphering our Blue Cross  policy without a couple hours reading, re-reading, then calling and asking questions of the provider, and trying to trick them into telling the truth about our “BC 1000″ plan. That BC is for ‘Bogus Care”.

In 2000 an entire tree was pulped for my “Hell plan”paperwork, pertaining to a lethal lump which about one in five Marin women develop.  Yesterday, nine years later, I gleefully recycled  two pounds of  files entitled “EOB” (= Explantaion of Benefits, a very poor title since the EOB further obfuscates)  or “NOT A BILL”  and of course actual bills. The “ordeal” segment of my Boob Oncoplague tri-athlon (=diagnosis, treatment, payment)  was so numbingly  complicated that I routinely put paperwork away for a few months before adjusting my goggles and wading in.

A body oughta be spared that “third event” when tackling  and recovering from disease. I feel so lucky to have trained as a triathlete around the time I was becoming a cycler. Each new sub-race was just another hurdle, and it always seemed like a miracle that I could run hard on completely time-trial softened stems of rubber.

Perhaps in countries with national health services people are spared the shock & awe of costs. Maybe all they do is gripe about how many years they have to wait for care.  As if there weren’t docs over there willing to accept cash money for those able to afford stepping out of the queue.

Maybe  Euros get the long-term gain of POM (peace of mind), which manifests itself as a strong immune system. Or do  foreigners  just  eye our system and wish they had it because of our “high quality” of care? (Please note yr answers in the comments section!)

The conspiracy kook in me thinks these loopholes, gaps,”gotcha!”s” etc. are a form of planned obsolescence (i.e.built-in future business….)

So we’re at the mercy of a complex arrangement between insurers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies.  It makes our bandaids the priciest in the world (think: army screwdriver).

THEREFORE helmet laws (with the high cost to overall public health because of lower cycle use) may save lives by discouraging casual cycling.  If this study isn’t holeyer than Swiss cheese. I know nothing, just thought I’d put it on the cheese tray for you to munch.

Inside my own head, the jury’s still out. I vacillate (and worry about the message I send).  Ponder our own helmet advocacy group; and remember that statistically the more you ride, the likelier you are to ‘contact’ the ground, or a drunk, or….a stubborn, unbending tree.

THUS. HELMET LAWS ARE  GREAT for USA-style profit-based health business, esp. chronic and crisis fixing. Get all those remaining bikers to give up house, assets, etc. to get medical repair.

In Australia, Denmark, Holland, and the UK the national health service is at odds with itself if they enact helmet laws, as they carry the burden of   those  higher costs.

Random thought: perhaps my ‘allergy’ to work is connected to my intense will to live, and live WELL, and something , as they say, had to go. Between work, health, and time (choose any two) I chose the two latter. Poverty does not suck. I am truly hoping that this message somehow leaks out. POVERTY INSPIRES LOW IMPACT INVENTIVENESS.  You can quote me on it, but it’s not really all that catchy.

~ by jacquiephelan on April 15, 2009.

4 Responses to “We All Have Blue Cross To Bear”

  1. Hey, thanks for posting the link, which itself leads to the actual model. I usually wear a helmet, but I resent the helmet police mentality that I encounter from most cyclists. I can make up my own mind, thanks very much! I’m all in disfavour of mandatory helmet laws. Of course, increased per capita cycling rates will lower overall health costs to society — but the cost of a head injury will be paid by me (if I hit the lamp post next time while unhelmeted). I factor that into my decision. I can’t agree more with you that a for-profit “health” industry has every incentive to keep us sick. It’s their bread-and-butter.

    I miss you – wish that you could join the fun in Scotland. Next time you come here, we’ll go monster-hunting at Loch Ness, wearing my custom monster glasses and fortified by small flasks of fine single malt.

  2. I’m a doctor. In my office, all health plans are referred to as “Spawn of the Bowels of Satan” and we just add a number to indicate which particular demon to which we are referring. Medicare is “Spawn of the Bowels of Satan #1,” for example.

    I’m going to go ride home for lunch now. Without my helmet.

  3. I read Dr. Piet de Jong’s study, and put up a Web page about it.
    First you have to realize he is talking about public health issues, not helmet issues. He says “Even if an analysis suggests that there is no net societal benefit of a helmet law, it may still make eminent sense for individuals to wear a helmet.”

    Second, he puts forth the same arguments as every other anti-helmet law whiner you have ever heard. His scientific model is based on bad assumptions: pass a helmet law and people stop riding. If they stop riding they won’t exercise any other way and will fall away to couch potatoedom. Never happens here, probably never anywhere else either. He says he has data for his US estimates, but as we all know that doesn’t exist.

    Bottom line–old whines in new models.
    Randy Swart randy@helmets.org
    Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
    Arlington, VA USA

  4. Interesting post. I wear a helmet about 95% of the time. They’ve become so light and comfortable, not a big deal anymore. However, I’d agree they turn off some folks to bikes. I agree somewhat to the idea of more people riding would mean more safety – less need for helmets.

    Without a doubt, we have the most screwed up health care system ever here in the U.S. It’s completely wacked out. Nothing will change until the profit aspect is removed.

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