Was Jay Bennett Another Victim Of Our Health Care System?

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With the passing of Jay Bennett, we are again reminded of the mortality of the artists we love. At one time, Jay was in a pretty popular band (Wilco) and was a part of many songs that some of us hold very dear.  Since then he dedicated his life to releasing his music to his fans in an honest way. He contributed to some of the songs that have helped us through the saddest times in our lives (“How To Fight Lonliness”) and have been the soundtrack to some of the funnest moments (“Can’t Stand it”). He was also a sought-after session player and producer/engineer. While an autopsy has not yet been performed, his death seems like it will undoubtedly point to complications from his much-need for hip surgery.


A month ago Jay wrote of his upcoming hip surgery. In this blog he wrote of his struggle to get money for a down payment for surgery. The need to raise money to get health care is one of the saddest parts of our health care system. While Bennet’s health was going downhill and he was dealing with a horrible affliction, he was then forced to figure out how to afford a down payment to get the surgery he needed to survive.

When you are trying to find this money for a down payment you get sicker and your life gets more painful. When this happens the things that most of us take for granted, like making music and checking your Myspace, take a backseat to the need to survive. It is a sad thought that some of the artists who make the music we love could no longer create it because we don’t take care of our creative class. It isn’t just our artists and musicians who are uninsured, many label owners, producers and engineers who sit behind a desk 14 hours a day, 7 days a week working hard are still unable to afford reasonable health care in this country.

Most recent statistics indicate that around 45 million Americans are uninsured. With the upcoming legislation going through Congress this can begin to change. In the coming months we are going to begin the struggle to finally pass health care reform in this country and I ask you in the music industry and the musicians’ community to help. This time are you going to believe the bullsh*t that the corporations are going to promote about the government getting between you and your doctor or are we going to see it for what it is to us? A way for the musicians who have touched our lives to actually be able to concentrate on creating more great songs for us, rather than thinking about what equipment they can sell to be able to afford medical costs? Without having to go back to a job that doesn’t allow them to tour because you need to work a “real job” in order to get benefits, rather than freelancing? This could be the difference between you, yourself being able to pursue your dreams and creativity and having to work a job that has health benefits.

When Health Care reform comes up to the table this time will you help make sure it passes so we don’t lose another Jay Bennett? Will you please ignore the corporations funding smears of government interference and think with your heart and your love of music? If so, get this idea out there to the masses so that we do not have to lose another great artist to our broken health care system. Get it out there so you can be the next person affecting people’s lives with music instead of another person forced to be tied down to a desk job just to be able to get health care coverage.digg.gif

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.

  • Anonymous

    Health care in the US is expensive (so is health insurance), but at least it’s available, and generally of high quality. Excuse me if I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when I think of where things will go once our efficient (think: postal service), caring (think: IRS) and cost effective (think: pentagon) government gets control over our health care. Thanks, between them and the lawyers, I think they’ve done quite enough already.

  • Jesse Cannon

    Excuse me if I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when I think of where things will go once our efficient (think: postal service), caring (think: IRS) and cost effective (think: pentagon) government gets control over our health care. Thanks, between them and the lawyers, I think they’ve done quite enough already.>>>
    Few things…
    1. The pending health care reform actually doesn’t have the government running the system at all, that is part of the smear and the hyperbole from the corporations who wish to continue to profit from this bankrupt structure. While many of us on the more socialist side(my hand raised) would love to see the government get involved in our healthcare, this is not in the upcoming reform. In the upcoming legislation it isn’t doing anything aside from doing basic tax reform for getting reimbursed for your health care, with some small side legislation forcing doctors in to modern times to use computers instead of their atrocious handwriting. The disgusting insurance companies will still be making terrible decisions for your health. Sleep well!
    2. There are many valid reasons to be against the government running things, but health care is so broken at this point it invalidates any of these concerns. The very reason Ronald Reagen mounted this anti-government movement in the 80s was against the bureaucratic breakdowns that are inherit in the health care system, not out of some libretardian anarchist ideal. He saw all the flaws in the bureaucracies and fought back. These corporations now behave more poorly than any government bureaucracy has ever even been capable of.
    3. Arguing that corporations should still make your health care decisions ignores the way they have behaved since ol’ Ronnie railed against them. While in the 80′s the Reagenites may have had valid points, what they never saw coming was the way the modern corporation was going to put cost before caution. I am sure The Gipper got a nice whiff of this during Union Carbide and that whiff was him ****ting himself.
    4. While government may not be the ideal candite to run health care they have become the default. After millions of tragedies it would be hard for them to ever fail in the way our health care system has in the last two decades. As the oncoming hospital crisis looms, we are only seeing the iceberg in the distance before the world will have to recognize there are some things that you cannot have a capitalistic profit structure involved in.
    5. The postal service gets a letter across the country in a day or two. The IRS still manages to get enough money to keep this country going. The Pentagon just shaved a budget now that an ex CEO of a contractor is no longer in office. All of these things are a great deal more accomplished compared to our current health care system. Just because government has failed in the past does not mean it is bound for failure in the future. When you elect leaders who do not even believe government has a role in the business it is conducting, of course it is going to fail. We now have a governing body that is intelligent and believes in the power of government as a vehicle for change in reform, not in the dismantling and inevitable failure of the institution they are in control of. Let’s give it a chance to try something new, since what has happened in the past is an obvious failure.

  • Anonymous

    Hey there,
    A little bit of white space would make your writing a bit easier to read.
    Cheers.

  • Todd Thomas

    Check out the special titled “Sick in America” on YouTube. Perhaps insurance might be part of the problem? People with insurance go to the doctor whenever they want (often whether they need it or not). Yet no price comparisons are even done. Most patients couldn’t tell you even the price of a couple of stitches. What is wrong with that picture??
    What other industry is like that? None. There must be competition in healthcare. Doctors and pharma companies must compete like any other industry (which will mean better service/products for consumers). As it stands the insurance companies win, the doctors win and patients lose. This indeed must change.

  • Neel

    As a health care provider I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Thomas on one point- health care providers and doctors actually don’t win. The insurance companies are just as busy screwing us over as they are the health care consumer. By reducing reimbursement rates to incredibly low levels (which a provider has to accept or else they won’t be able to accept patients who carry private insurance) coupled with the fact that bills are submitted to insurance companies THREE times before they are even acknowledged, many providers are barely breaking even, many private practices are closing down and most hospitals are operating at huge losses (think tens of millions of dollars in debt). Virtually the only ones who are benefiting in the present scenario are the private insurance companies who continue to boast huge profits and consistently please shareholders (because THATS who is important in this health care game, isn’t it?). These are private corporations traded publicly with the objective of MAKING MONEY. Not preserving or bettering the health of the population, of you, of your family. They make money by denying patients the care they need and denying providers reimbursement for services rendered. Of all of the various health care delivery models that operate in the United States, the government funded and run programs are consistently the most efficient in terms of controlling cost and delivering quality care to often the most at need and unhealthy populations (think the Veterans Administration Hospital System- despite the terrible conditions at Walter Reed under the direction of the Bush administration, the VA has consistently been seen as the gold standard of care in the medical community). And as a response to the previous anonymous contributor- the United States ranked 37th in quality of heath care in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000 (http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html), and I can tell you that the quality of health care has seriously deteriorated since 2000- where can it stand now? As far as health care being available? Tell that to the uninsured- sure you can find a place to go if you have a massive heart attack or have a catastrophic injury but try paying for it- 50% of all bankruptcy filings are owed in whole or in part to health care costs (http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml). Our current system fails patients, fails the population, fails hospitals, fails doctors and other health care providers, fails the public’s health- all while hemorrhaging tons of money (remember who’s making the profits…). Think of the savings that could be realized if we treated (or PREVENTED!!!) health problems before they became catastrophic! Pay for a $0.15 per day asthma treatment or pay upwards of $20,000 for an admission for status asthmaticus for an uninsured person? Ditto health maintenance vs the cost of a triple bypass!? To have the bargaining power of a large body (i.e., the US government) to force down the cost of medications and hospital supplies (another source of runaway health care expenditure)? As Mr. Cannon pointed out, the proposal of the Obama Administration takes a small (too small in my opinion) step in the right direction- we need to liberate Americans from the choke hold of the health insurance industry and big pharma ASAP. This will benefit EVERYONE (well probably not the health insurance industry so much- they are still going to get to rob us- just not as blatantly and ludicrously as they do now), from the private citizen to the small business to the large corporation! Don’t believe the hype- big government isn’t going to get in the way of your medical care, it’s going to get in the way of the big insurance industry continuing to get in the way of your medical care!