Should a past mental health episode mean this mom loses her child?

Steve Herbert for ProPublica


Steve Herbert for ProPublica

At ProPublica, the story of a young woman who had a mental health crisis -- a psychotic episode -- and as a result, lost custody of her infant daughter. In the crisis incident, the mom became delusional and believed her child had been raped. The child had not been assaulted, nor was she ever harmed by her mom. Four years later, the mom is receiving effective treatment for her postpartum depression and psychosis, and capably raising a son. Yet, the courts in Kansas still won't give back her daughter, arguing she is unfit based an principle sometimes called "predictive neglect." Is this right?

Village designed as a home for forgetful seniors

Kelsey Campbell-Dollahan: " there's still no perfect way to care for sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer's. In the Netherlands, however, a radical idea is being tested: Self-contained "villages" where people with dementia shop, cook, and live together—safely."

Hospitals will happily tell you the cost of parking; procedures, not so much

Fourteen-year-old Jillian Bernstein got herself published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by comparing the transparency of medical costs at Philadelphia hospitals with the transparency of parking rates at the same hospitals. Out of 20 hospitals, 19 were happy to provide information on the cost to park a car. Only three, however, were willing to tell her how much it would cost an uninsured person to get an electrocardiogram, and those prices were ridiculously variable — $137, $600 and $1,200, depending on the hospital.

NHS campaigners' bid for #1 Christmas song

Noemi sez, "In much of the English speaking world 2013 was the year of the Battle for Health Care. While in the US people were fighting for the Affordable Care, others in the UK campaigned for high quality, free healthcare. A year ago a powerful campaign in South East London challenged the demolition of more than half of Lewisham Hospital. They fought the UK government in the High Court twice and won twice! What could be a more appropriate way to celebrate the power of people and the strength of communities than to help the good people of Lewisham land a beautiful Christmas Number One?"

Tragic rabies death in China

A 41-year-old Chinese man died from a rabies infection that he picked up in an attempt to save his son from the disease. The boy was bitten by a rabid dog. The father sucked blood out of the wound in hopes it would remove any poison. The family ended up taking the boy in for shots, anyway, but the father turned them down, largely because of the cost.

U.S. health insurance is a complex nightmare

Here's Glenn Fleishman on healthcare in America, where sufferers receive outsize bills and must engage with an insane, bloated bureaucracy to chop them down to size--if they have insurance.
Explain to me how this makes sense at any level? The raw cost, the billed cost, the premiums, the rest of it. The system is designed to have as many parties interceding to make profit as possible. It is not designed to produce the best care in the world; our care is fine. It does not exceed or meet comparable developed countries with national healthcare, and we pay vastly more and have steeply increasing costs.

I don't deserve better healthcare than you

When blogger Melissa moved to Canada in 2008, she identified as a conservative, Republican evangelical Christian. Part of that identity included a deep mistrust of Canada's universal healthcare system. Before the move, she was terrified that she was going to place that would limit her medical choices, tell her what to do with her body, and push abortions (paid for with her money) on any woman who was unsure of what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. She was afraid of losing her freedom. She was afraid of losing her religious liberty.

But that's not what she found in Canada.

Instead, Melissa slowly came to realize that the Canadian system was actually more family friendly than the American one. In Canada, there is significantly less demand for abortion. In Canada, she says, it's easier to be a stay at home parent, and it's easier to ensure the health of your children. She also found that abortion wasn't pushed (merely offered as one of many options) and that Catholic hospitals weren't forced to offer abortions if they didn't want to. Meanwhile, Canada does a better job than we do at balancing their national budget and has far, far, far less national debt.

I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government mandated Universal Health care. Here in Canada ... People actually went in for routine check-ups and caught many of their illnesses early, before they were too advanced to treat. People were free to quit a job they hated, or even start their own business without fear of losing their medical coverage. In fact, the only real complaint I heard about the Universal Health Care from the Canadians themselves, was that sometimes there could be a wait time before a particular medical service could be provided. But even that didn’t seem to be that bad to me, in the States most people had to wait for medical care, or even be denied based on their coverage. ... The only people guaranteed immediate and full service in the USA, were those with the best (and most expensive) health coverage or wads of cash they could blow. In Canada, the wait times were usually short, and applied to everyone regardless of wealth ... Personally, I never experienced excessive wait times

This story is hitting particularly close to home for me, right now, as I have started to receive bills in the mail for medical costs incurred by my recent miscarriage. The anesthesia for my abortion, alone, ran more than $1500. I have high-deductible insurance (which brought the cost down to about $650) and a health savings account (which allowed me to cover the rest). I'm not in trouble. But I am very, very aware of how lucky and privileged I am in this.

If it weren't for the fact that I'm married to an engineer, I wouldn't have health insurance now. In fact, I probably wouldn't be writing for BoingBoing, because I would never have been able to take the risk of freelancing and leaving any job (no matter how poorly paid or odious) that offered me health insurance. And if I had had the misfortune to have a miscarriage at 7 weeks without the health coverage I have now, I would have incurred medical bills that could have put me in debt for years. Either that, or I would have had to make choices about my miscarriage that would have made the experience significantly worse on my physical health and mental well-being.

I've been successful in my career. But that's not enough. Whatever I've done as a "self-made" lady, I don't deserve to be able to make the right health choices for myself without fear of bankruptcy. Or, rather, I don't deserve it anymore than everyone deserves it. Healthcare without fear shouldn't be something you have to earn by being exceptional. Nothing I've done personally, makes me more special and deserving of being able to take care of my body. And that's the problem with the US health system. It takes basic necessities and treats them as privileges.

Read the rest of Melissa's post on healthcare in Canada

Image: Electronic Stethescope, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from taedc's photostream

Another option for affordable healthcare: Marry a Norwegian

In a first-person account of his battle with chronic illness, Minneapolis musician Kevin Steinman explains why he's decided to move to Norway rather than keep fighting the American healthcare system. (Via Erik Hess)