Tag Archives: health care

Brushing Jaws’ teeth is better than brushing Gansta Jaws’ teeth. I swear it makes sense.

When the health care bill was going through Congress, there was a lot of talk about children’s oral health and stories of toddlers with horrible tooth decay.  Even though I am all about any improved health care options for kids, I probably had two thoughts at the time: 1) Their parents are probably feeding them pixie sticks and rinsing their teeth with Hawaiian Punch and 2) won’t they just lose those teeth anyway?

I’m sure I was quickly informed by some children’s advocacy group that this was not the reason for widespread tooth decay among small children.  And I’m sure I nodded and took their word for it.  But here’s what these activists should have done.  They should have grabbed a small kid – any kid – and said, here, YOU try to brush their teeth.  Not twice a day.  Not every day for years.  Just one freaking time and then tell me if you think that shit is easy.

Because it. is. not. easy to clean a small kid’s teeth.  At least for me.  It is a daily battle of wills that usually ends up with me getting bitten.  Not because he wants to bite me (although I won’t act like that’s never happened).  It’s because I’m jamming a toothbrush or washcloth in his mouth for longer than he can pretty much pay attention to anything, and the natural reflex is to bite.

Real image of me brushing O’s teeth.

But I keep trying.  Because I DO NOT want to have to take him to the dentist any sooner than I have to.  And this is wrong and I know it.  I know you’re supposed to go when they’re one.  The problem is that our dental insurance would almost quadruple to add a “family” to it, and it would be far cheaper to pay out of pocket.  Not that I want to pay anything at all any sooner than I have to.

However, I want to responsible.  I don’t want him to be rocking a mouth full of silver teeth before preschool.  Unless it looks like this:

And this story about a 2 1/2 year old getting surgery for all his cavities scares me.  (Seriously, read this story if you still think it’s only babies living on pixie sticks who are getting cavities.)

So I asked my pediatrician about it.  She said it’s ok to wait to go to the dentist until two or three, but the main focus is getting any remaining food off their teeth after every meal.

And I asked my dentist about it.  She said it’s ok to use a washcloth if that’s all you can get in there.  But she said to definitely use some of the kids swallowable toothpaste and really focus on the molars.

Slowly, slowly, O is getting more used to the teeth brushing.  Next go around, I’ll start earlier.  I admit, I only half-heartedly did the whole gum brushing thing when he was little because he didn’t get his first tooth until nine months.  What I didn’t realize is that it’s half about cleaning gums and half about getting them used to the teeth brushing ritual.

The health care law does improve access to dental care, especially for children, but from my read it doesn’t look like it will decrease the cost to families with employer-based insurance like ours.  (Here’s a good page I found on what it does for individual and small biz plans.)

Supposedly there is money for a public education campaign.  I hope some of it goes to teaching people like me who once thought that toddler tooth decay only happened to kids who lived on candy and had never seen a toothbrush.

Maybe O and I could go on the road and show parents-to-be just how important it is to start early.  They probably still wouldn’t believe me.  Because that’s the ignorant bliss of pre-parenthood.  Or they just think kids with blinged out teeth are cute.

See, you could gone your whole life without seeing that image.  You’re welcome.

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Why Dems should think twice about using the phrase “war on women”

All last week the media was hyped up on the phrase “war on women.”  Something about those words just kept bugging me, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

As a quick recap, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that the “war on women” was a made up concoction by Democrats to create drama in the media around women’s issues and then said, “If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet[s] talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars.”  I don’t have to rehash why saying that makes him a total ass hat.

But it’s clear why the phrase “war on women” is a touchy subject for them.  As the Washington Post reported:

Among independent women — a key group of swing voters — Obama had been trailing Romney by five points in a series of surveys late last year. But that number shifted dramatically in polling conducted in February and March, and the president took a 14-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor, marking a net gain of 19 points.

No one can say for sure why this shift happened, but many in the media have speculated that perhaps it’s because of the Republicans’ constant obsession with controlling both the comings and goings of a woman’s vagina, which maybe isn’t the best way to win over half of voters.

I’m obviously pumped that more women are seeing this as we head into November.  But that phrase “war on women” just keeps irking me, so I spent all weekend thinking about it.

And I realized this morning what it was.  It kinda makes me tired.

Old 20-something me would have loved the phrase “war on women.”  It’s got the drama and fire that drew me to politics.  I wanted to fight for my rights, damn the man, have them hear my roar, and be a part of a movement.  I wanted to be involved in big  issues that used words like war, fight, and battle.

Now it just makes me want to take a nap.  Ok, to be honest, everything makes me want to take a nap.  But really, I need less drama in my life, not more.

I realized that this phrase “war on women,” which may be the perfect lure for women in the mood for a fight, might actually turn off women who say, “ya know, I got enough madness in my life, so can we cool it on the war talk?”

I just get this sense that there is a pretty large faction of women – many who are probably still undecided voters – who feel like they have enough wars to wage in their lives.  They’re fighting crime, drugs, and illness.  Against bullies and for better teachers.  For a little more money and little more sleep.  We’re even fighting traffic, rude people in grocery stores, plaque on our teeth, and fine lines and wrinkles.  Women already have wars going on in our lives left and right – not to mention real wars with sons and daughters overseas – and then we have to fight a “war against women” too?

Aside from already having enough wars in our personal lives, the phrase also puts gender inequality in the category of phrases  like the War on Terror or the War on Drugs, things we totally want to annihilate.  And then women think, oh come on now, no one wants to annihilate women.  Can you cut the drama please?

And that’s the twisted genius of the actual policies behind the “war on women.”  It’s less like a war and more like death by a thousand paper cuts, so when you look at the big picture, most women say to themselves, oh yeah that sucks but I have way bigger problem in my life.  Yes, health care is more expensive for us, we make 70 cents on the dollar compared to men, we can’t control our own family planning, we can’t get the maternity leave and child care we need, but there are just so, so, so many other problems in our lives that these women’s issues can get pushed down the list.

It’s less “war on women” and more like “the slow water torture of government-sanctioned subservience,” but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

I know it’s just words, but we all know that in politics, words matter big time.  I just worry that overuse of the phrase will turn away those independent voters Obama still needs – many whom might be like a lot of the moms I meet out here in the ‘burbs -  who just don’t have the energy for the fight.

But I also know that these women spend every single day dealing with the policies behind the “war on women” that really do make their lives harder.  Less money for the same work, more money for health care, and less assistance for raising a family.

There’s gotta be a way to say to them that fighting the “war on women” sounds like a lot of drama, but will actually cut some of the drama out of their lives.

Aside from all the crap we buy for them, having babies shouldn’t cost a fortune

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I think sometimes we just get resigned to the fact that certain types of businesses are always going to be a pain in the butt to deal with.  Cell phone companies, cable companies, credit card companies, etc. – at least I personally go into it assuming I’ll feel violated after the experience.  And medical insurance is. the. worst.  Usually.

When I was pregnant, I called up my insurance provider to find out how much giving birth was going to cost me.  I had heard several thousand, so I wanted to be prepared.  Here was my conversation:

Me: I’m having a hard time understanding the brochure that came with my policy. What portion of maternity costs do I pay?

Lady: Nothing.

Me: No, I don’t just mean the actual giving birth part, but the hospital stay and drugs and stuff.

Lady: You pay nothing.

Me: I really don’t want to be unprepared for any unforeseen costs because I’m quitting my job and we just bought a house and I heard it cost thousands and…

Lady: Honey, I promise you.  You don’t have to pay anything to have a baby.

See, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the federal government’s insurance exchange, and although insurance still cost me a chunk of my paycheck (although far, far less than what we pay now), it ensured that I could go through a medical experience that, ya know, continues the human race without paying thousands and thousands of dollars.  And when O lodged his cute little butt deep into my pelvis and required a c-section – a surgery that combined with my stay cost nearly $30K – I still didn’t pay one dime.

I thought this was just miraculous.  And I still opened each bill from the hospital expecting that in the end, they’d find some way to make me pay.

My question now is, when did we decide it was acceptable to have to pay thousands of dollars to have a baby?  I worked for Congress, for crying out loud, and I had accepted the idea that maternity care was an expensive endeavor, even though I had health insurance.  I was floored to hear otherwise.

So today, on the day that the Supreme Court starts hearing arguments on the legality of the Affordable Care Act, every woman – no, make that every person who cares about families in general – should say, it’s time we stop tolerating our own low expectations.

For me, it really took the creation of the Affordable Care Act in the first place to realize just how crappy the health insurance industry treats women.

The National Women’s Law Center submitted an amicus brief to the Court, and reading it this morning shocked me yet again – AND I WORKED FOR CONGRESS DURING THE PASSAGE OF HEALTH CARE REFORM!  Do you see how ingrained these low expectations are in me?

Did you know that only 12% of individual market insurance plans cover maternity care, and even some of those have ridiculously high deductibles?  So if you can’t get insurance through your work – and that’s less than half of Americans – it’s very unlikely your maternity care will be covered.

Another one that always kills me: without the new health care law, my c-section could be considered a pre-existing condition.  I like to say that it’s a wonderful thing that I gave birth in the 21st century, because O was so thoroughly stuck in the wrong position that it’s a good chance I wouldn’t have survived childbirth otherwise.  But without this law, I could be denied coverage of care in the future.  And that’s on top of insurance companies already charging women more simply for being women.

I know this health care stuff has been going on for years and it can feel like old news.  I also know that most of my readers are already on this train.  There’s also not much to do but wait to see what the Court decides.  But at the very least, this process needs to be an opportunity to change our perspective: Instead of being shocked when we don’t get screwed over by the health care industry, let’s be shocked by how egregiously we already are.  And let’s talk about it.

Having a baby is simply not in the same category of having hidden fees tacked onto your cable bill or credit card statement.  We shouldn’t assume that getting fleeced is just part of the experience.  Among a bunch of other stuff for women, the new health care law requires individual insurance and small group markets to cover maternity care.  This is not a luxury or perk.  It’s the way it should have always been.  And that’s what’s shocking.