Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mary Pitt: "Debunking the health care bugaboo"

Mary Pitt

Right up there with the economy as an issue for the election is the the problem of health care for Americans. We know that some forty milliion Americans have no health insurance and those who do are faced with ever-rising deductibles, co-payments, and premium increases. The Presidential candidates all believe they have the answers that the voters will approve but most really are aware that their proposals simply will not work. In the meantime, people are dying from neglect.

The President says that everyone has health care and ,if they need it, "All they have to do is to go to the ER!" That is true in some instances. In the smaller cities, you may be treated at the emergency room but your costs will be added to the "bottom line" of the hospital and they will raise their rates so that the bill will be paid by those who are paying their own bill or by the insurance companies for those who have insurance. In the latter case, the increase will be covered by higher premiums for the fortunate insured. On the other hand, a person appearing in a big city ER may be faced with a wait that could stretch into a whole day and then be treated by a harried and overworked young doctor who hasn't been to bed for a couple of days.

But that is not the end of your treatment. Once you gain the attention of an actual physician and your urgent complaint attended, you are told to see your private physician in his office within a certain time frame. It is called "follow-up care" and is essential to your recovery and, in some instances, failure to do so could again put your life in danger. Once more the same financial arrangements will take place as to the payment of the expense. It goes round and round with the charges being increased, the higher insurance premiums, until some other person finds that they cannot afford to pay for the care of their family.

When one dares to broach the idea that "universal health care" is the only practical answer, all the politicians grab their own wallets and scream about "rationed care" and "socialism". True, it would require the demise of the current health care insurance industry so that the three hundred billion dollars in annual profit for those companies could be used instead for the care of ill and injured people. Also true that there may have to be a wait for some elective surgeries while the system makes the adjustment but, in every country that now has universal health care, the emergencies are cared for at once and the less urgent cases deferred until they can be scheduled.

We are given horror stories about other nations and their "rationing" of health care. Our politicos don't really care much for emulating the European countries for reasons having nothing to do with health care. However, there is one nation that has universal health care and the citizens not only love it but take it for granted that their care will be excellent when they need it. This is a country that apparently can do no wrong in the opinion of our national legislators and their system appears to be a good example of the way it should be done.

This nation is Israel and you can access a good overview of how it works at that this link .

The only reason the remaining candidates of either party will not espouse a similar program is that "it would put a whole industry out of business". Of course, we must bear in mind that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are among the major contributors to political campaigns for both parties, the politicians owe them favors for it and are determined to repay them.

This is the reason why Americans cannot have the quality and availability of health care that our own money has fostered in a nation in whose establishment and maintenance we have invested for more than fifty years. While Governor Huckabee tells us that we must be instructed in how to live so healthily that we won't need so much health care, Governor Romney would require us to buy expensive insurance, the rest of the Republicans ignore the problem and the Democrats argue as to whether and how much subsidy the government should give us to feed back into the coffers of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

And they do it because they care? Because they really have our best interests at heart? If you believe that, go ahead and vote for more of the same for that is what we will have until someone appears who can make the American people understand that we have been, are being, and will be used as condiuts for the redistribution of wealth.....upward!

The author is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection."

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