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Health Care Thought

There’s a Democratic Congressman named Jim Himes in Connecticut who voted for Obama’s health reform plan.  As a result, for months now, my Google Alerts have been sending me angry blog posts and web pages by spelling-impaired “real patriots” reacting to Himes’ endorsement of this socialist plot.

I haven’t written much about the health care debate, and I’m not planning to do a full-blown rant here.  However, for those of you who are my fans and readers, here are a few projects you might have seen if the U.S. had decent universal health care:

  • A fourth Jig the goblin book (tentatively titled Goblin Lord)
  • A YA book or series, following the adventures of Danielle’s son Jakob and the daughter of the fairy queen from Fairytown
  • An alternate-universe short story about Snow and Talia
  • More short fiction

These are all ideas I’ve thought about trying to do, but after looking at the demands on my time — specifically, the need to work the full-time day job so that I and my family have health coverage — there’s no way I can make them happen.

Would all of these projects have materialized if we had universal health care?  I can’t say for certain.  There’s still a lot to be said for a stable income, which writing doesn’t provide.  But given what I make now, if I was able to write full time and produce an extra book a year … especially that fourth goblin book, considering how well they’ve done in Germany … well, let’s just say the odds of seeing those projects would be much better.

I’m not complaining.  I’m thankful to be employed, and happy to be able to do one book each year.  But I’d also love to have the option of doing more.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
zornhau
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
We'd also see less off...
"Author/blogger/activist [NAME HERE] has [MALADY HERE] and their insurance has weaseled out of covering it. Please click DONATION button below."
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
Re: We'd also see less off...
Or the related "Author X has no insurance because s/he is a full-time writer, and is now struggling to pay unexpected medical bills" fundraisers.
barbarienne
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
My particular favorite incoherent rants are the ones wherein the teabagger screams for the government to keep their mitts off Medicare.
mtlawson
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
Yesterday, we were behind a car plastered in "Tea Party" rhetoric. The driver? Easily in his 70's.

Yeah, let's stop your Social Security paycheck too while we're in a "small Government mood", buddy.
(no subject) - joycemocha - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Apr. 19th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
suricattus
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
Interesting almost-a-meme there, Jim. As someone who IS a full-time freelancer, but has to scramble for freelance jobs and whatnot to pay for my freelance health care (read: 2-3x the cost of what company-employed folk pay, and they can take it away from me on a whim), I suspect I'd have time to still be writing YA books as well -- or getting my books out on an every-9-months schedule, rather than barely making a 12-month one....


For sure, I'd be writing a lot more short fiction!
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Youch...

Three of the four people in my family have preexisting medical conditions. The way things are right now, I'd have to write the next Harry Potter to be able to afford health converage/care for us as a self-employed author.

And you know, there's a way to turn an almost-a-meme into a real meme :-)
cathschaffstump
Apr. 19th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
As you know, Jim, I mirror your philosophy on this exactly.

I've spent many of my 44 years jockeying myself into a position so that I can have time to write and work, and when the program I manage grows and is successful, the writing time tends to go away. If there had been universal health care, the chances of me being about 15 years ahead in my writing career than I am now are excellent.

I'm lucky that we don't have serious conditions, but my reflux disease would have been a blow if we didn't have insurance.

*shrugs* Some people say it's a matter of choice, and it is. I'd rather scramble for creative time rather than walk a fiscal tightrope, but I would really rather have coverage and the ability to write.
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
It is a choice, but ... well, I've made the same one. There's a certain level of safety and security I want to make sure I'm able to provide for myself and my family. Fiscal stability is part of that, but health insurance is an even bigger part these days.
(no subject) - cathschaffstump - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
thelauderdale
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
A fourth Jig the goblin book (tentatively titled Goblin Lord)

So you're *not* going with Goblin Artichoke, then?


And I kind of love Germany (and the Scandinavian countries) and their enthusiasm for the traditionally evil races. There's a small explosion of Orc titles gong on there as well.
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Well, the editor always has the option of overruling me on the title :-)

I don't put much stock in luck, but in this case, I think I was very fortunate to have written the goblin books just as monsters were taking off over there.
joycemocha
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
I have an adult son with a serious preexisting condition (Crohn's Disease). It's not a cheap disease. With universal health care I'd be another one farther along in the writing career, instead of working an increasingly stressful and under siege day job (special ed teaching)
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Even the cheap diseases aren't cheap. My son has asthma, and I'm guessing we could probably afford his inhaler out of pocket. But the asthma also complicates other things, and he got sick enough to have to go to the hospital last year. The moment that happened, it would have bankrupted us.

I'm sorry to hear about the growing stress. Teachers are being targeted for budget reductions here in Michigan, too. It's not pretty.
nathreee
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure, Jim. I live in a country with good general health care: the Netherlands. Still, being a full time writer is not something I can do, moneywise. Without my job, I wouldn't be able to afford my house and my social life which requires some travelling.

Healthcare is an important part of a developed country, imho, but it is not the thing that will allow you to quit your day job to write more.
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
I've been writing since 1995. For the first ten years, health care would have made no difference at all, since I wasn't making enough money to survive on. But there's a huge difference between where I was then (unpublished, or starting to publish some short fiction) and where I am now (five novels and 40+ stories in print, books translated into five other languages and counting).

In 2008, I made more money as a writer than I did from my day job. In 2009, the income dipped back below the day job rate. However, if I were able to write two books a year instead of one, I think there's a very good chance I could consistently match or exceed what I made from the day job.

At this point in my career, healthcare *is* the biggest factor keeping me to the day job.
(no subject) - nathreee - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nobu - Apr. 19th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nathreee - Apr. 20th, 2010 08:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nobu - Apr. 20th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nathreee - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Apr. 19th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
socchan
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Hmm; new diabolical How To Get Universal Health Care plan:

1) Send the president and congress the Jig books
2) Mention that there would be a fourth book if we had UHC
3) Wait

My bet is we'd get universal coverage in under six months :Db Maybe less, if congressional/presidential kids and/or grandkids get in on the books and start wheedling.
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Already done! (From a contest back in 2008.)

(no subject) - burger_eater - Apr. 19th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
semiramis
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall another author--I think it was Neil Gaiman, but it might have been someone else--mentioning on a blog that he tells people he writes movies in order to get screenwriters' guild health benefits (and the Americans nod in sympathy, while the British smile in puzzlement, or something like that).
kellymccullough
Apr. 19th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
Yep, that was Neil.
chickwriter
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
specifically, the need to work the full-time day job so that I and my family have health coverage

Indeed. One of the main reasons I keep my own fulltime job. I've been happily able to cut my days down to 4 and still keep my health coverage, but boy howdy...
jimhines
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
That's something I may look into eventually. I have a coworker who dropped back to 32 hours/week. If there was a way for me to do that while still keeping the benefits ... well, I could do a lot with an extra 8-hour writing day. (Assuming it didn't turn into an extra 8-hour grocery/lawn mowing/laundry/dishes/etc. day, I mean.)
aestaeben
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
Oh goodness, I want a 4th Jig book so much, and that YA series sounds absolutely amazing...as does the alternate universe story. :( This post makes me sad. But that's probably the point.
allaboutm_e
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. I think it's individual tales like this that help people put big issues into perspective.
chris_gerrib
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
Jim - the last thing you want to do is confuse the "True Patriots" with logic or reason. ;-)
mrs_norris_mous
Apr. 19th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
As someone who lives in a country with universal health care (UK), I couldn't imagine what it would be like to live in a country where if someone needed medical treatment they wouldn't get it. ( Yes I know we can't afford everything as a country but we do pretty well ).
mtlawson
Apr. 19th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
The people who like their healthcare the way things are like to say that they don't want to pay for all the people who can't afford it. The dirty secret is that they already do.

People who don't have healthcare, go visit the emergency room at a hospital, and either never pay or give a fake Social Security Number, end up having their costs absorbed by the hospital. The hospital turns around and raises fees to correspond with lost revenue, and the cycle continues.
(no subject) - mrs_norris_mous - Apr. 19th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Apr. 19th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
margaret_y
Apr. 19th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
I also think this applies to start-up businesses. Many would-be entrepreneurs are foiled by this. I wonder how vibrant and amazing our economy would be if we had universal health care?
huskiebear
Apr. 19th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
This, specifically, is why I can't understand how all the folks who scream about supporting "small" businesses with tax cuts also scream to keep health care tied to employment. Businesses could employ more people for less money if insurance were taken out of their equation, and more people would be able to start up their own businesses - artists, consultants, inventors - if they weren't forced into staying at full time jobs just for the bennies.
My boyfriend is Canadian. He's been self employed for years and his 20-something son just started up his own web and graphics business. He would never be able to get it off the ground if he had to work somewhere else full time until it gets successful enough to pay the insurance bill.
(no subject) - serenity_valley - Apr. 19th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wulfsdottir - Apr. 19th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
bodlon
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
I’m thankful to be employed, and happy to be able to do one book each year. But I’d also love to have the option of doing more.

That's exactly how I feel a lot of the time.

And wow. I'd read any of those in an instant.
starcat_jewel
Apr. 19th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
My partner and I do have our own business -- but we're running without a net. We're both in reasonably good health, especially for being over 50, and his daughter is about to graduate from college, and was on her stepfather's insurance before that. But if anything major happens to either of us, we'll be homeless or dead; the business pays the everyday bills (and his inheritance paid off the mortgage), but doesn't provide any sort of savings cushion. The risks we're running aren't acceptable for a lot of people, and shouldn't be necessary for anyone.
gwynnega
Apr. 19th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
Indeed. For years I was a part-time consultant--the money was about as good as it is now, working full-time, and I had way more writing time, but I had to buy my own health insurance. Then a health condition cropped up that I knew I would eventually need surgery for, and I opted to work full-time mainly for the medical plan. Now that I've had the surgery, there's no way I could buy decent health insurance on my own (until everything in the health care bill kicks in).
ext_82606
Apr. 19th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
So true
Thanks for yet another amazingly relevant and thoughtful post! I totally agree with you. It shouldn't be up to luck, or the desire to have a family whether a person can make the career choice to be self employed.

I'm a fiction writer paying the bills as a freelancer by night so I can write in the day. It's a ton of work, but worth it. Even so, I happen to know that if I wasn't perfectly healthy, or if I had kids, my writing career would be hugely diminished off having to spend all my best writing hours in an office/commuting, probably to an ad agency. I'm actually really impressed with how productive you are with a day job and family.
~Carolyn Crane
jjschwabach
Apr. 19th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Go ahead and complain. If you lived in 'most anywhere else, insulin, etc, would be considered a *right*, not a privilege. Take it from the lady who requires $4000 worth of equipment to walk from the car into the post office.
burger_eater
Apr. 19th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
I'm in the same situation (but with fewer books on the shelves).
huit
Apr. 20th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
DANG. I guess that's one of the hidden costs of health care. >.
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )

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