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Healthcare Is So Horrible Here that Thousands Rely on Free Clinics—And You're Fined if You Don't Use Prescription Drugs

Hey, California, is there a doctor in the house?

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Since we’ve always avoided taking prescription drugs, we never felt the need for it. I called the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program and learned that the penalty would be $32 for each of us. That means $64 every month for the rest of our lives. It seems somewhat absurd and unfair that we could be penalized for not taking any prescription drugs.

Ironically, “This penalty is required by law is designed to encourage people to enroll in a Medicare Drug Plan when they are first eligible,” yet we had no way of knowing there was such an option to consider. Another irony is that Medicare doesn’t cover any dental procedures, even though rotten teeth and gums can cause internal illness that Medicare does cover.

I asked RAM CA volunteer Dr. Peter Scheer, a world-renowned oral surgeon, about that. His response: “In regard to Medicare and covering dental needs, it has always been an issue. Medicare stands strong in only providing benefits for services that are deemed medically necessary and has always excluded anything related to dentistry, surgical or restorative.

“Yes, there are situations where a patient may have an atrocious dental infection that can become life-threatening if not treated. The times where this situation really hits a grey area is when the patient also has other medical issues that may be affected by the infection or contributing to it. Unfortunately, most instances we come across are a decrease in the quality of life due to a poor oral condition rather than a life-threatening event.”

However, a research team from Columbia University’s School of Public Health has just released the results of a three-year study of 420 men and women, concluding that the improvement of gum health can help slow the development of atherosclerosis, the build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque along artery walls, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Meanwhile, Goldenvoice has invited RAM CA to return next year. I asked Pamela Congdon, “Will the Affordable Care Act affect that event, or is it too early to tell?” She replied, “The ACA won’t affect the event in terms of people needing service. We are going to have the Borrego Community Health Foundation there to help people sign up for the ACA.” As inspiring as this year’s four-day free clinic has been, in a truly compassionate culture, there would be no need for its existence.

But the insurance industry has a pre-existing condition known in technical terminology as greed. Not to mention the pharmaceutical industry; the annual turnover of revenue for prescription drugs by the top ten companies is estimated to be worth $700-billion dollars. In my new Medicare Advantage Enrollment Kit, there are listed a few thousand prescription drugs, from Abacavir to Zyvox. Okay, now cue that soothing voiceover to recite all their side effects, from anal leakage to zits.

As for me, I owe my longevity to never taking any legal drugs.

Read more of Paul Krassner at PaulKrassner.com