Thursday, July 23, 2009

I am Struggling to Understand the US Health Care System

An unfortunate incident in LA shook me and made me question the US health care system.

Part 1

A few of our friends got into a fight over a remark made at Hitesh. The events that followed thereafter made me realize that; a) Punjabi boys are quite stupid - all they need is a little provocation. It does not matter whether they are 18 years old or 30 years old, they have to fight, and b) They do not know when to pick their fights!

Let's focus on the not so stupid part for now...

The argument turned quickly into a fight in a parking lot with about 10-15 boys hitting three of our friends in their heads with knuckles! As a result, blood was rushing down their heads. The gangsters fled the venue leaving 3 people hurt. Imagine an inch deep cut on their scalps with their shoulders covered in blood. Dreadful..isn't it?
Oh no, wait..this isn't the dreadful part.

One of them went to the hospital. He had to get stitches done right away or rather he wanted to get the stitches done. The other two kept saying that they are okay. In spite of much convincing, two of them did not want to see a doctor that night. After some probing, I found out that they do NOT have health insurance! As shocked as I was, my obvious question was," Why do you not have health insurance?"

Fortunately, our friends worked things out through connections and had their stitches done in the morning.

Could the event have been avoided?
Yes, absolutely! Hitesh did not have to take the remark personally at all. He could have let it go.
Oh no, but his reasoning is that,"If someone says something to me twice, I will respond!"

Since, Hitesh could not avoid getting offended by someone who was present at the venue to make trouble, two of his friends (and one random person) got hurt.

I hope, in future he thinks things through (at least three times) before getting offended.

Now, could the 2 of our friends have avoided getting hurt?
Absolutely, yes! However, their reasoning was that they could not stand their friend getting hit/offended.

Well, I hope in future they remember when and with whom to pick their fights. Also, I hope they consider that not having health insurance could affect their "fighting escapades" in future.

It turns out they had fought with a well-known LA gang that night.

Part 2

Hitesh and I had this conversation a few days back about my being covered through his health insurance. After a few calls to his insurance provider, we realized that I can't be covered! This completely freaked me out. I asked him," Well, how do I get health insurance here?"

Hitesh's answer," Once you get employed, then you can have one through your employer".

Dude, what if I do not get employed for a few months, does that mean I am without health insurance??!!? And, the worse part is that my concern does not sound odd to him or to a lot of Americans! Why should I be without health insurance when I am a resident of US? I deserve it.

Hitesh dislikes our discussions about the US health care system. I have to admit that I do not understand it in depth. He says he has one and that is sufficient. However, he has never been to a dentist, doctor, dermatologist or eye doctor in the US in the last 7 years!

Weird..isn't it?

I have been covered 100% for the last 8 years during my stay in Canada. It did not matter whether I was a student, employed, or an unemployed professional. I have had regular check ups with my dentists, doctors, dermatologists, eye-surgeons, chiropractors, physiotherapists etc.

Kudos to Canada for providing a necessity to all its residents...for doing things the right way.

My biggest concern is that I may be without health care, starting September! I am not sure if US is really the "land of opportunities" when it can not provide basic necessities to its residents.

Part 3

Lately, I have been reading blogs and debates about Obama's efforts to fix the health care. I hope he goes far with the issue. Surprisingly, a few people do not want health insurance. The reasoning being that these people are quite healthy and do not need any sort of insurance. But, what about future? What if you get hit by a train or a bus and break your legs? Would you wish you had health insurance to cover the cost of your treatment or would you prefer to go in debt?

My question:
  • Could someone explain to me as to why do people in the US not have health insurance?
  • How does the health care work in the US (for those who have it)?
  • How in the heaven's name people live without one?
Part 4

I am trying to find a job in the design industry, where you deal with 'wicked problems'. I hope I get an opportunity to work on the US health care system - I do think it is a wicked problem, which needs a complete over haul.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Re-Thinking...Design' made possible by Roger Martin

Lately, I have been having a fantastic design time in San Francisco.

I have met several design minds...some through informational meetings while others through connections. The strongest connection with the design world was probably being able to attend the Design Management Institute (DMI) conference called,'Re-Thinking..Design' in June.

The ticket was priced high at $1400+ and well beyond what my pocket allowed.

Our dean - Roger Martin was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. I emailed Roger and requested whether he would be able to get me a student price. And, viola! He spoke with the conference lead and I was able to attend the conference for $500, which is the student price.

I was quite impressed with the fact that Roger is extremely collaborative and sees value-add in a recent Rotman graduate. He did not have to respond to my email, or accommodate my request for that matter. However, he chose to do so. I wish the entire Rotman community was like him. I also wish all the business leaders were like him i.e. see value-add in students, graduates, alumni, employees and collaborators.

The conference not only gave me an opportunity to network in SF, but it also introduced me to the fact that business will turn into design in future and vice-versa!

Thank you Roger for making the conference a possibility for me :)

So, how did all this happen?

  • Heather at Designworks casually mentioned in May that since I am moving to SF, I should check out DMI's conference.
  • I go online and check and price; Immediate reaction - forget it! too expensive.
  • I keep thinking in my head that if I miss this opportunity, I will regret it.
  • I talk to my friend Angela and mention the conference. Angela suggests emailing Roger and asking for a ticket.
  • I think,"Well, why would Roger answer my email? Oh well! I have to give it a shot!"
  • I email Roger and I am all set to go to the conference :)
While Roger's input was crucial here, I want to make a note of the fact that life is about availing opportunities (in a good way) and listening to people intently. Had I not paid attention to Heather's casual remark and Angela's advice, I would not have been able to become a part of the conference.

Like I said before, I wish the entire Rotman community was like Roger. I emailed Rotman's PSO (Financial Aid Admin) a few weeks prior to the conference. Usually, Rotman provides conference subsidies. However, my request was declined since I was going to graduat 3 days prior to the conference. The reasoning being that I was no longer a registered student and hence not value-add (implied).

PSO should really work on establishing and maintaining relationships with alumni. I may be unemployed now, but I will be employed in time. I am not sure how PSO hopes to maintain a strong alumni relationship if they find no value in a graduate just 3 days after convocation!