Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29th, 2009

I have under gone some sort of transformation in the last few days, as is pretty clear I guess, from my blogging. I woke up one day early this week and found myself to be an American. Before then I guess I was just along for the ride, caught up in feelings of apathy, helplessness and disinterest.

It came as an incredible shock to me to realize that socialized medical care could even be debated in our Congress, that we could have elected a President who could offer it as a viable option for health care reform. It caused me not only to look more into the health care situation, but also into what it means to be American.

Our country was founded with the hope that future generations would not only understand, but perpetuate their form of government, the Republic of the United States of America. But we have squandered it. I came of age as an American only to find that my country has been all but hollowed out, ironically, usually from either good intentions or from fear.

For example, take the good intention of equality in health care, the proposed result of a universal health care system.

"In the Wall Street Journal British physician Anthony Daniels writes:
"The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population.


"This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.

"Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality...In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe."

It would be one thing, perhaps, if a universal health care system were the only viable option. Then it might be worth it to talk about how to try and make a better state run health system. But it's not the only option, it is simply the worst option. In fact, government control is what got us here in the first place; how on earth does adding more of it, in any way, shape or form, make sense?

"When the government has made a mess of medical care by increasing its market control from 10 percent to 50 percent over the last 40 years, driving up costs by shifting them to private insurers, and when state regulators have driven up the cost of the other half of care, mandating coverage that makes private insurance unnecessarily expensive, we are told that "reform" means giving government complete control of whatever is left."

Their "reform," then, amounts to more of the same poison that has been killing us."
-Richard Ralston, July 29th 2009, The Vegan Review Journal, "STALINIST 'REFORM': A public option that destroys all options."

"We need not choose between freedom and competition on one hand and long term health security on the other. Markets can deliver both.

"Getting there requires us to move in exactly the opposite direction of current regulation and most policy proposals."
-John H Cochrane, Feb 8th, 2009, The Cato Institute, "Health-Status Insurance: How Markets Can Provide Health Security"

"Rather than endorse such big-government overkill, pro-freedom members of Congress should promote a simple concept: Let every American own and control an individual health insurance policy that can be transported among jobs, self-employment, graduate school and life's other twists and turns."

"What Americans need is a thriving market in individually owned and controlled health insurance plans. When you book an airline flight, Priceline.com does not ask, "What is your group number?" You decide when and where to fly, and then buy your ticket. At least with personal travel, your boss does not fund this. The same is true for car insurance, home insurance and often life insurance. Why must Americans shop for health insurance at work, rather than online or through independent agents?"
-Deroy Murdock, July 18th, 2009, The UnionLeader.com, "Deroy Murdock: There's no U.S. health insurance crisis"

I have no idea why this matters to me so damn much. I didn't care before. I had this vague idea that the system could regulate itself, that there was nothing I could do either way, that my vote didn't matter.

The system does not regulate itself. A republic requires the informed participation of its citizens; to do nothing, to not care, was to actively participate in its degeneration. I was failing my country.

A friend on facebook asked the question on her status: Do you know the difference between a republic and a democracy?

I didn't. I didn't know the difference, to my incredible shame. It was with difficulty that I could even recall the pledge of allegiance, in which I thought vaguely the word republic might have made an appearance. It does, as children in the public school system we stood to face the flag, hands over our hearts and said the following:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Maybe it is hopeless. There are some hours in the day when I feel certain that my country is already lost to me, as I learn more and more about how far government already extends its constitutional bounds, how far we have distorted what was originally given to us. I feel sometimes like giving up, like going back to my comfortable life of not caring. After all, how much impact can I really have anyway?

And then I read quotes like this, and I find that tears are streaming down my face.

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”
-Ronald Reagan

8 comments:

Post Tenebras Lux said...

I am proud of you!

Brittany said...

It is great that you have an interest in this! I stood on my soap box over the election and yet no one listened to me, I am sad to tell those people I told you so now! I am scared to death and pray that somehow these wrongs will become right!

T said...

Wow.

I learn more and more every day.

Thank you for sharing these insights.

james said...

How then do you propose i get health care? Under the current system (individualized, private "insurance"), i have NO health care. I have to, at this point, get better or not, as God and my body see fit. I have no recourse, no way to get any treatment. At least with a universal health care plan i'd have access to SOME care, bad or not.

indiana.girl said...

James-

I don't know if you'll come back to check my blog, but I wanted to first of all thank you for leaving me a comment and I wanted to take the time to reply.

I absolutely agree; the current health care insurance system does need to be reformed. As you know, too many people suffer from having no insurance at all or being underinsured.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming that the reason you have no health care is that you cannot afford either the insurance or the care itself.

The question then is, why is healthcare so unafforable? I have lately been looking into this question and here are some things I have discovered.

There are government regulations in place that force insurance companies to include certain forms of health care for everyone, making individually tailored health care programs impossible. For example, if you are a male, your insurance is still covering the cost of mamograms.

Furthermore, there are tax breaks and regulations in place that encourage companies to buy health insurance for their employees, but there are no such similar tax breaks and incentives for individuals to buy their own.

In addition, there are government regulations in place that prevent the carrying of health insurance across state lines, preventing the free market ecomony from lowering prices, due to a limiation of competition within the state.

Also, a large part of health insurance costs go toward covering frivolous medical lawsuits. Anyone on health insurance is paying for everyone else who has ever sued their doctor.

This could be reformed by limited the amount of money plantiffs in those cases could ask for, or by individual contracts drawn up per procedure.

Putting these reforms in place would encourage a whole new direction of health insurance. We would very soon start to see individually tailored insurance programs available in such a way that the comsumers can price compare, keep their insurance even when they move and through life changes and at competitive, affordable prices.

It sounds like you need health care right away, so this might not come quickly enough. However, even if the health care reform that will be voted on in September passes, it will not start to take effect in the general public until the year 2013, four years from now. Encouraging health care reform within the private sector, as opposed to within the government will take effect much sooner. In addition, it will provide you with much greater choice, innovation, and most important, control over your own health care.

I'm no expert, I'm just someone deeply concerned this situation and I've been doing a lot of reading on it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to think a little more deeply about it.

Whatever happens, I hope very much that you and all other Americans in your extremely difficult situation find the help they need.

james said...

You are correct in assuming that i cannot afford healthcare - neither the cost of care nor the cost of insurance.

I appreciate your very gracious response; it's always nice when a question or concern is actually addressed instead of just stonewalled.

In my own reading, i've discovered that the same procedure costs vastly, illogically different at different medical institutions; the same procedure can vary in price by $250,000 depending on where it's done (and not necessarily with better care).

Something else i've discovered in my research is that hospitals often charge for equipment never used, medications never administered, and charge exhorbitant amounts for the same medicines you would pay a fraction for at home. It seems to me that one of the reforms most necessary is regulation of how much any given procedure should cost - competition in this market doesn't seem to be having any effect at all (these extremely disparate costs for the same procedure at different locations are in the same state).

Frivolous medical lawsuits are indeed a problem, but i don't think that legitimate malpractice suits should necessarily have claims caps or require individual contracts drawn up prior to each procedure. Doctors and surgeons are entrusted with a great deal, and occasionally that trust is very much abused. There should be stringent consequences for blatant carelessness, negligence or neglect.

I'm not personally concerned about my insurance costs including procedures that don't necessarily apply to me because of my sex -such as mamograms - and not only because men get breast cancer too. I'm not as prone to sickle cell anemia as an African American, but i don't think that blacks should pay more for health care because they're black. I think that forcing "insurance companies to include certain forms of health care for everyone" prevents a very convenient basis for discrimination based on sex or race.

Insurance at "competitive, affordable prices" is very relative - insurance that costs ANYTHING AT ALL is too much for me to pay, especially since it doesn't cover any preventative care. This is not to imply that i'm frivolous with my money: i have no debt, i have no car payment, i have no mortgage, i have no kids nor any child support payments, i have no cable, i don't even have a pet - i am NOT unemployed - and i STILL can't afford ANY TYPE of health care or insurance. The system as it stands is appalling.

That being said, i don't feel that i suffer from being uninsured - i feel that i suffer from lack of healthcare. I think those two are very different things, and i think the distinction is an important one to make.

At this point i support universal healthcare because at least a) i'll have some care whereas right now i have access to none, and b)i'd not be paying some "affordable" amount based on some arbitrary whatever - it'd be strictly income based and so might actually BE affordable.

I'm no expert either, and you've probably done more reading on this than i have; i just haven't found the insurance companies, or even the hospitals, to be benevolent or benign.

Thanks for your thoughtful post, and your equally thoughtful reply.

brightarethestars said...

Great post! Universal Health Care is one of these ideas that sounds really great until you try and figure out how to accomplish it. I agree that the system needs to be reformed, but do not think the current proposal is best. It is a really, really big problem and I don't want people who cannot afford health care to die or be ill or not receive good treatment, but at the same time I like having the option to pay more money for a different kind of care - being able to choose my own doctor for example. I could ramble on and on about this, but I will spare you. :-)

Rebecca said...

Amen! I agree with you 100 percent!