High Desert Hoofbeats
November 8, 2018.
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Nov 08, 2018 | 202 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I got good and bad news in the mail last week. The medical insurer I’ve subscribed to for the past 16 years wrote to say that they’d renew my policy for another year. But the fine print noted that my monthly bill would be more than 20 percent higher than it was last year. I’d be a fool to think it wouldn’t keep increasing.

Like everyone else, I’m over a barrel getting and paying for health care and insurance. I’ll just keep paying what I have to, and be glad that I have a policy. At least the few prescription drugs I take are affordable. But that’s not the case for many people.

I was puzzled to read last week that a Utah health care company that insures public employees has come up with a plan to send their patrons to Mexico to buy prescription drugs. Not because it isn’t a good idea—it might well be—but because it is so entirely hypocritical in a state which so obsessively regulates other sorts of substances.

How can it be legal for a Utah company to endorse and pay for people to leave Utah, not just to go to a neighboring state—but to a foreign country—to buy drugs, when it’s not even legal for me to drive over to Colorado and buy a bottle of wine or THC salve?

It’s a classic case of Utah rules being bent to fit where it’s convenient, and forcing them onto others when beliefs and morals collide.

The Utah Public Employee Health Plan covers 160,000 workers and their family members. It is now offering certain of its subscribers plane fares to San Diego, thence on to Tijuana, plus $500 cash payouts to buy drugs that are used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders. The program is called “pharmacy tourism,” and it was devised after state legislation required insurance plans for state employees to include cash incentives for patients who choose cheaper providers.

Hypocrisy. That’s what this smacks of. Plus greed and money. Alcoholic beverages and prescription drugs are highly regulated substances. The state makes a lot of money pricing and selling alcohol. It’s a cash cow. State government isn’t unlike drug makers and racketeering insurance companies that operate similarly when it comes to people’s health. While it’s illegal for a Utahn to go out of state for spirits, it’s OK for public employees to go out of the country to get cheaper drugs. It’s a racket for sure, on both counts.

***

We had a ball at the Soup Bowl benefit Saturday evening at the MARC. This rather new fund-raising event is both creative and rewarding, using local talent on many levels to support local causes.

In case you missed it, here’s a taste of what happened: Participants paid the small sum of twenty bucks each to choose from a large array of one-of-a-kind handmade bowls, which they could then fill from a buffet line of soups that ranged from chowder to chili. Tables filled the top eastern room of the MARC and spilled out onto the patio below, as folks chowed down on delicious broths and bread, enjoying dinner and the company of hundreds of others.

Just prior to the soup event on Saturday afternoon, we had attended the Folk Festival at the ballpark, listening to great music and socializing with friends who we too often only talk to on social media. As the sun set over the cliff and we heard the last refrains from Shawn Colvin—one of the many class acts that performed this year—we turned our thoughts to soup. And the second stanza of the day’s activities did not disappoint.

We don’t have enough of these community events, in my estimation. The opportunity to see community members, meet strangers, and reconnect with old friends to visit over a dining table is better than any town hall meeting can be. It’s the sort of fellowship our community needs.

The event was vaguely reminiscent of Moab’s popular Election Day dinners that for decades were hosted by the Catholic Church. As times changed, that event got to be too much work for the stalwarts who had kept it going for so long. Several years ago they gave up trying to keep it alive. At those dinners, though, the food and warmth was as comforting as the fellowship of community, all coming together at a sort of mega-family dinner table. It was a pre-holiday kickoff with all the trimmings of Thanksgiving.

Although we may miss some of our town’s traditions that have gone by the wayside, new events are happening here all the time. The onus is ours to get out and mingle, to support the many non-profit organizations here and the causes they benefit. The personal rewards are surely greater than the cost of admission.




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