Sunday, February 28, 2010

Healthcare Mayhem

No, I don't mean Cherry Ames.

Informal poll: How many fictional sleuths can you name who worry about their healthcare?

Think about all those "realistic" fictional detectives who are self-employed, down on their luck, and getting beat up/shot at/Mickey-Finned on a daily basis. Shouldn't their writers mention how these tough guys pay their healthcare bills? Aren't chronic concussions a pre-existing condition? Are the Sam Spades of the world even insurable?

In my Possessed Mystery Series, my protagonist Pat Montella doesn't worry about her healthcare; she has panic attacks over it. In book one, BY BLOOD POSSESSED, paramedics ask her if she wants to go to the hospital, she says no, not because she's feeling great, but because the hospital is in a different state than her insurer and she knows getting preapproval will be next to impossible.

Then she's laid off and her Cobra coverage runs out by book 2, HANG MY HEAD AND CRY. The plan she's forced to take up is the kind President Obama calls Acme Insurance--cheap, high deductibles, and doesn't cover much. By book 3, POISON TO PURGE MELANCHOLY, Pat's starting to have odd symptoms, which she ignores because she knows going to a doctor about them will cost more than she can afford. And ironically, her symptoms are caused in part by poor quality healthcare, bordering on medical negligence.

Fiction? Nope, research. Millions of Americans go through this breed of healthcare crap every day. All Pat's experiences are based on my own or on members of my family.

You want healthcare fiction? Listen to politicians who say we've got the best healthcare in the world and that the majority of Americans like the system as it stands. Now that's fiction.

And if you're a mystery writer and you don't want to deal with the reality of healthcare woes these days, better write historicals, or make your sleuth a U.S. Congressman.

Stay well,

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