Thus Spake Zuska

Tim Foley at has picked up on the post I wrote about the Bridgeville shooting victim whose friends and family sponsored a car wash to help her pay her medical bills (with a link to a news story about the car wash). His take on the story is well worth reading.

Meanwhile, on my original post, commenter ABM gripes:

What if that uninsured shooting victim wasn’t a young woman shot by a misogynist, but a grumpy, sexist, racist old man with no friends who didn’t attend church and was generally unliked by all his neighbours? He doesn’t get helped out because of who he is? I doubt the feminists or the Presbyterians or whoever would be setting up a car wash to pay his bills.

An actual social safety net only cares that you are a citizen. That’s pretty important.

While I am normally unmoved by the “oh noes! what about teh menz?” type comments (and I am pretty sure that the car wash was not organized by a bunch of hairy-legged feminazis), I could not agree more with the safety net sentiment. And, as Tim Foley notes in his post,

[The Bridgeville victim] was in the line of fire for arbitrary reasons. She was also left behind by our health care system for just-as-arbitrary reasons. And she is not the only one. There are many bullets in the world, literally and figuratively. As I type this, there are men and women who are victims of violence, victims of cancer, victims of disease, victims of accidents that could not be predicted, who are in the process of beating the odds but who are struck all over again with the terrifying question, “How on earth do I pay for this?”

How indeed. They certainly shouldn’t have to chance relying on the kindness of strangers like commenter Jay_C:

The woman that the carwash is being held for aged out, and either chose not to buy insurance (she instead chose to pay to join a gym)…That is common. Or she had a preexisting condition. In the first situation, sometimes you roll the dice and the numbers aren’t in your favor. In this specific case, I’d rather give her the money through personal through a car wash, or just through good old fashioned charity (get nothing in return), than through my money being wasted on a Government bureaucracy. At least I know my hard-earned money is going directly to the victim I want it to and not in the “big bucket” for everyone else, and I can’t choose who it goes to.

Jay_C thinks the Bridgeville woman “chose” not to buy health insurance. What kind of choice is it, when you aren’t employed, and available coverage is too expensive even for lots of people who are employed? Good luck for you if you happen to be the victim Jay_C deems worthy of support! Too bad for you if he figures you “should have” had insurance.

We are ALL victimized by a system in which it is just the luck of the draw whether or not you end up with semi-adequate health insurance coverage at the time you need it: if you happen to be rich enough to buy it, if you happen to be lucky enough to be employed in a job that provides it, if you happen to be old enough to have aged into the Medicare system. And if you are one of the ones who happens to be lucky enough to have the health insurance through your job: then, you just hold your breath hoping that you won’t lose your job and thus your coverage.

P.S. To My Readers: I have been looking into whether there might be some way to set up online donations for the shooting victim without health insurance. There are some other people who are interested in this. If we are able to work anything out, I will let you know.


  1. #1 Russell
    September 1, 2009

    In the same regard, social security doesn’t care that the old man barely surviving on it and nothing else was a lifelong drunk, rightly disowned by his family, who wasted every other bit of his earnings on the horses, and who can no longer work because tobacco and dissipated life have left him unable to walk a dozen steps without rest. It still pays him a minimal scratch. Scratch that he cannot sell, pawn, or pledge, and that cannot be seized by creditors, and the payout of which is not much dependent on his own good judgment. That is one of its most important attributes, and distinguishes it from most other kinds of financial planning.

  2. #2 gwangung
    September 1, 2009

    Just a comment.

    In this specific case, I’d rather give her the money through personal through a car wash, or just through good old fashioned charity (get nothing in return), than through my money being wasted on a Government bureaucracy.

    What makes Jay C sure that this is even possible? Can he show how far the endowments of health related charities can be stretched for this purpose? Because, I’m not at all sure that the endowment (let alone the interest on those endowments, which is what charities give out) is adequate to handle the health care needs of the those without insurance.

  3. #3 Heoekl
    September 1, 2009

    You Americans are crazy. What the real important thing here is is getting the cost of health care down. That’s your real problem.

    Bickering over who pays for it isn’t going to get you very far.

  4. #4 hoekl
    September 1, 2009

    Oh, and by the way I really wish there was some sort of trusted escrow -keeping organization of some sort that could be used in this sort of grassroots donation stuff. There’s a real need there.

    If you find anything please do tell us who and where they are!

  5. #5 Michael
    September 1, 2009

    Who cares what the underlying circumstances were: PYT, MCP, Senior Citizen, or who ever who didn’t have the money for health care. Too many people are bankrupted because of a serious illness even with health insurance.

    On the other hand, there are people running around openly carrying guns. These people allow for the carnage at LA Fitness by blocking laws that would prevent access to firearms by psychos.

    What is wrong with the picture of a person carrying an assault rifle to protest people having health care? Is it just me?

    The US has some serious problems if the Second Amendment allows for George Sodini the firearms to kill and maim at LA fitness, yet Heather Sherba has to have a car wash to pay for treatment.

  6. #6 volcanista
    September 1, 2009

    I would take it even a step further. I think that safety net should be there for people who are sick or injured for reasons that could be argued are not chance. You could argue that a smoker might not “deserve” public support for treatment of their lung cancer, or a careless rock climber shouldn’t get public support for treatment of their broken bones, because their actions contributed to their own need for health care. And I disagree. Everyone deserves full access to whatever health care they need. It’s not the role of the state to punish the ones who need care because they were naughty by sending them to bed without supper.

  7. #7 Helena Handbasket
    September 1, 2009

    I moved to Canada from the US last year, and I have to say that I have never been happier with my healthcare situation. I moved while 6 weeks pregnant, and it was about the same having a baby in the US with “good” insurance vs. Canada testing/healthwise only WAAAAAAY cheaper in Canada (no copays).

    I live in Quebec (the most socialist of provinces) and still my taxes + benefits here cost less than my taxes + benefits at my old job (working for the US Fed Gov). Net result: my take home pay is higher on a slightly lower salary and I have confidence that I will be taken care of if I get sick. It is a win-win situation.

    PS. Just to make things clear–it takes about as long to find a new doc taking patients where I am now as to find a doc that would take my insurance in Former US Major Metro Area. I can see any doc I want. My healthcare is LESS rationed than in the US–when anyone in the family gets sick, we can be seen same day from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, so no worries about missing work. Furthermore, I don’t need referrals to see “specialists” like a gynecologist. It ain’t perfect, but it is way easier to get access healthcare, and it is very depressing to watch the healthcare debate in the US from here.

  8. #8 BAllanJ
    September 1, 2009

    The other thing that would benefit everyone is the reduction in the number of desperate folks. Even those with great insurance or oodles of money benefit when the people around them are less desperate. Desperate people do things that others don’t like. Maybe this woman had a relative that wasn’t going to let her die, so goes out and knocks over a bank, or mugs the rich looking guy. I heard that a great deal of foreclosures in the US are caused by medical bills… the rich shareholders of the banks should care about this. The wealthy landlord wouldn’t be stiffed as much when the tenants don’t have to decide between rent and taking the kid to the doctor. Lots goes better in a society when you reduce despair.

  9. #9 CCPhysicist
    September 2, 2009

    Jay_C also misses the point that ze or the taxpayers or both will eventually pay the health care costs of someone like this shooting victim, depending on whether the treatment was at a private or public hospital. The private hospital increases its rates to cover losses due to indigent care, while the public hospital raises its rates and/or asks the county taxpayers to cover that loss. People with insurance pay for it. Now that woman survived so she can have her life made a living hell by collection agencies, but what about some sleazy gang banger or the innocent bystander who lives just long enough to be expensive? You and I are paying for that today, you just don’t see it on your bill.

    What the shouting classes don’t realize is that 1/6 of everyone’s income, roughly a 17% effective tax rate on the GDP, is going the health care whether you see it or not. Apropos @2, why does Jay_C think that the current system is any more efficient than government? The data (insurance companies and hospitals with massive billing departments versus Medicare) say it is not.

    Where Medicare wastes our money is in giving that guy @1 an electric scooter, something that guarantees he will probably never walk again as he gains weight and his legs atrophy from disuse, but single-payer systems have much less overhead, even compared to an HMO group with salaried doctors because they still have to manage billing for specialists and out-of-area care.

    We have to reduce the rate of increase in health care or we will go bankrupt even faster than the nay-sayers claim for the proposed plan.

    @5, that person carrying an assault rifle to the President’s town-hall meeting was on record as supporting a group of people who were in possession of Oklahoma City amounts of bomb-making materials. Not your typical citizen.

  10. #10 JustaTech
    September 2, 2009

    Zuska, I saw this story on MSNBC last night (9/1) (The Rachel Maddow Show). So at least the liberal-leaning national media has also noticed.

  11. #11 Karen S
    September 2, 2009

    The young lady was not a member of the gym, she was on a guest pass that evening. Her friends did the car wash to assist her. Its sad to see anyone using this as a way to garner health care reform

  12. #12 Julia
    September 3, 2009

    It’s the problem with a social model based on voluntary charity, which historically only goes to the “deserving poor”. Such a model is dangerous to anyone who at any time may not fit the bill, as it were.

  13. #13 daedalus2u
    September 4, 2009

    I would like to make a point that no one else seems to have made. There is one class of persons in the US who is absolutely guaranteed health care as a right. That class of individuals is prisoners. The Supreme Court has ruled that to deny incarcerated individuals needed health care is a violation of the Constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. It is also a violation of the Geneva Convention which requires all incarcerated individuals to receive health care on par with what the soldiers of the incarcerating power receive.

    If the perpetrator in this case had been badly wounded and lived, his medical costs would be paid for in full as an incarcerated person while his victims are left to raise money via car washes.

    What this woman needs to do is commit a crime and be incarcerated for it, then she would be entitled to free needed health care.

  14. #14 jay_C
    September 9, 2009

    Once again, you took my quote out of context (..shocker…)
    Here is my actual quote…

    “The woman that the carwash is being held for aged out, and either chose not to buy insurance (she instead chose to pay to join a gym)…That is common. Or she had a preexisting condition….

    Here is the part you left out…”

    you are right, there are *some* folks that do need assistance (pre-existing conditions, can’t afford it even though working hard AND it’s not offered at work, disabled and can’t work) That being said, that number is not anywhere near 45-50,000,000 people”

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