Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Health care issue again
IF the main concern for health care in the United States was the health of the people, this whole problem would be quite simple. Make it Medicare for all, single payer, monthly premiums, reasonable co-pays for routine care, and cover what the doctor/hospital says is needed.
IF health care for all was the main concern, there would be a standard set for fees, economically gradated for where people live, and a government watchdog agency to check on doctors or hospitals who prove to be out of line. Not that complicated (IRS manages to do it) and it would get care for all.
IF health care for all was the main concern, yes, there would have to be a system set up to decide what level of care would be covered (with the patient allowed to pay for what it wouldn't cover). The country would have to decide do we all pay for extending someone's life a few months? How do you deal with the patient who runs to the doctor for every hangnail? Who gets a transplant? Those kind of considerations happen today but they're decided by corporations, not by doctors or patients.
A simple solution to health care is not the main concern of our government and certainly not Republicans, who apparently don't want it to happen with any type of government intervention-- socialism, dontchaknow. They see socialism behind every bush including public libraries, national parks, food inspections, protections from monopolies, highway systems that aren't toll roads, and about everything except a very strong, large, getwhatevertheywant military that is basically mercenaries for the rest of the world who sometimes don't even want their own military nor do they want ours.
Yes, there would have to be those who receive cheaper medical care today than they would under real reform. They represent half those yelling about the possibility of meaningful reform. The other half are the easily manipulated by that one deadly word-- socialism (which most don't even know what it means-- look it up in a dictionary if you are one of those).
What freedom from fear of losing health insurance would also do is allow people to take the best job they could find for their talents. It would enable workers to take a risk of starting their own business. As things stand, many people stay with a job just for the insurance benefits. Is that economically or emotionally the best thing?
Health care for all is not the biggest political concern, nor is it keeping down cost. It's profits of the insurance corporations and the stock market. It's not actually about medical care at all.
The bottom-line is corporate profits, the stock market, and fear for the overall economy which is the dirty little secret of both Republicans and Democrats. Make health care simple and the insurance companies will be back to mostly selling life insurance, home owner policies and auto insurance. Can't have that, can we? What would that do to the stock market? How about donations to politicians? So let's at least be honest about it.
When we pay insurance companies to monitor who gets care, when we pay 30% on top of the actual cost of the care to them, what exactly does that do to our economy? How productive can a country be that has so much money going into money exchanges not into real products? Don't get me started on how many places that is happening today in our world.
I just watched the 2009 movie 2012 on DVD and what follows will be a spoiler. If you haven't already seen it but plan to, come back another time to read my take on it and how it relates.
In the film 2012, the big issue is supposedly predictions from the Mayan calendar (and many psychics and religions) of a rapidly approaching date for doomsday. The natural disasters give the movie its zing with one catastrophe following another while the hero and his family flee for safety, but what will safety represent?
The answer to that is what you don't find out at the beginning of this film. This is one of those rare films where you know what the main character (played by John Cusack) knows. You aren't god looking down on this from a heavenly perch but a person going through it and what will happen next? What is it all about? You find out as he does.
Piece by piece (Woody Harrelson does a terrific job as one of those radio guys who predicts doomsday and is actually thrilled when it arrives) and then disaster by disaster, Cusack's character finds out that the earth is about to be inundated with events that will wipe out all living beings-- at least that's the expectation. The earth's crust will change and our globe make a huge shift (polar shift which it is believed has happened before).
The premise is mankind won't be here to find out what comes next. No place is safe. Earthquakes, volcanoes, gigantic tsunamis, you name it, you got it; but the real issue isn't them. In this film, them you can't avoid; and the disaster is not brought on by any global warming or political event. It's not an issue if you have no choice to decide. That's when you just endure.
In this film, scientists and then political leaders find what is going to happen three years ahead of time. Some can be saved. There is time to build huge arks and keep them secret. Certain treasures and animals are gathered to be added at the last minute.
So then how do you decide which humans are to be given a ticket? Can you tell everyone? What would that do to the stock market? People would panic. Should selection be based on a gene pool for repopulating the world? Should it be a lottery?
Politics decrees how it should be. You guessed it-- money. If you had the right connections, you were told and could buy your way onto the ark-- a very few of you. Are you old? Who cares. Only one thing matters, did you have a lot of money?
The natural events that destroy the earth might not be possible as they are set up; but the way to save a select group of people is an analogy for today's health care debate. An ark looms large over us.
In the United States, available health care is our ark. If you have a good corporate level job. If you work for the government. If you are over 65. If you have a profitable business or are rich, you can get onto the ark. You can get the health care, at least for now, that might save or extend your life.
But if you are a single mom with two kids to raise, parents who are barely scraping by due to medical problems, and you find out you have leukemia, if you are among the working class, not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, even if you have insurance, will you get a ticket onto that ark? With insurance, you still have to pay 10% of the cost of chemotherapy, radiation, tests, and any needed hospitalization. Insurance doesn't solve that woman's problems, does it? Do you have any idea what that means to that single mom working two jobs to scrape by as it is? If you don't and don't care, you are among those already on the ark.
There was a memorable scene at the end of 2012 where one of the main characters asks the question of what kind of world did those people on the ark want to build if they left to die those who had been unable to board the ark at the last moment (one of the four planned arks was accidentally destroyed before boarding).
But wait, what will it do to us if we share with them?
What will it do to us if we live at the cost of sending them to doom?
That's the question we face today.