2014 was a year that saw my health at its worst in years. I don’t want to bore anyone with too many details today but I seemed to have fallen somewhere between too serious for patient to ignore and too mundane for medical professionals to give much of a damn. I got to experience, too many times, just how inadequate and even counterproductive the US healthcare system is. As a techie it’s hard for me to even apply the term “system” to our ugly insurer-run tangle of medical resources. Anything an engineer can get his hands on can be fixed. We healthcare customers can’t even wrap our minds around what we face when looking for solutions.
Don’t blame “Obamacare” per se. Be honest: this nightmare has been going on for decades, ever since we decided for-profit care could be a Good Thing back in the 1980s. We now see that it can’t, but are too used to the devil we know to dare consider drastic but necessary alternatives. The one common denominator for Obamacare and all other options is, of course, that health insurers hold the real power. If we’re objective about it, we can all agree that isn’t serving us well.
And yet I’ve had to listen to former in-laws blast socialized care in other countries they’ve never experienced. Look, I was treated for a medical problem that developed while traveling in Finland. Me being a foreigner whose pitiful insurance didn’t reach across the Atlantic. The sum total of exams at two facilities came to $190. Let that sink in. That’s less than my current copay for one night of sitting in an emergency room. The first doctor didn’t even charge me because he had to refer me to someone else! So I’m not too receptive to emailed anecdotes about some anonymous Canadian who died waiting for treatment from a paper cut.
Healthcare here needs serious fixing, especially in Texas, but I can’t afford to wait for it.
As many of you know, my wife left over a year ago. She was the only thing besides my children that kept me rooted to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. With her gone and my sons grown, I’m finally getting free to explore options… including relocation. I have a lot of work to do first, including going through the necessary divorce, but with my health somewhat improved from last year I intend to put forth every effort to cutting loose from the anchor that is my house. I could target San Diego, the hometown I never wanted to leave and have missed terribly for 47 years. I could maybe move to Finland, home to some of my truest friends and a country where I feel naturally welcome. Or maybe Colorado, a state that these days appears to be more liberty-minded than the other 49. Who knows where I’ll wind up at this point… but I want—need—to get to where I have the ability.
Of course healthcare will be a huge factor in determining my next destination. So will the station of my oldest son (a Navy technician in training) which will be determined soon. I’m cautiously excited at the possibility of him being assigned to San Diego.
Meanwhile I’m still shaking off the discouragement of our local maker foundation failing, but continuing to support the maker community in whatever capacity I can. Part of that means sharing Intel developer resources with them, something I intend to ramp up for 2015. The Software Innovator program isn’t yet quite up to where Microsoft’s developer offering is, or even where Nokia’s was, but it shows great promise and Intel employees like Bob Duffy prove daily that the commitment is there. I’m currently putting together a project for Intel’s Edison, something I’ll be writing more about soon. There’s also a local conference I’ve been supporting.
And maybe, just maybe, before this year is out I’ll be able to parlay my favored skills and interests into a job somewhere, anywhere, that helps me feel more fulfilled. Plus decent healthcare.