Something of substance

When I was a Mississippi teacher in a school that was half black and half white, nearly all of my black students and half of my white students qualified for free lunches. In a school where no one was rich, picture one quarter of the student population having to buy that which the other three-quarters get for free. Now, picture the parents of that one-quarter having to pay for their own children’s lunches and, through their taxes, for the lunches of the other students. Such situations build resentment. When I asked in a previous post why it might be that the very parts of the country that have the poorest people are also the parts that so vehemently oppose a national health care system, no one answered. I think that one reason is just such resentment. The South contains a lot of seriously pissed-off people, and I can’t bring myself to put them down too harshly because I’ve seen the world through their eyes.

I support national health care because I also see how miserable and hopeless my own precarious health situation would be if I were to lose my private insurance in a state that has a waiting list for Medicaid. If you become too sick to work, you lose your job, and when you lose your job, you lose your insurance. You can’t buy more insurance because you’re sick and you have no job. What is the message in this? That your life is worthless aside from your ability to earn money with which to buy insurance? I would be astounded if you could find a single person who is desperately ill and can't afford treatment who opposes national health care. If I am right, what you have here is a situation in which those who have their own needs met simply don’t care a whole hell of lot about those who don’t. Perhaps, they blame them for having the problem.

I have been corresponding with a man named Aaron who opposes national health care, and I promised him that I would address the issue here for the simple reason that I feel better about spending inordinate amounts of time writing for my blog than I do writing letters. Aaron’s argument is that private charities should take on the problem. When I pointed out that they’re already unable to do this, his response was that government is to blame, not just for their failure, but for the soaring cost of medical care. He offered two primary reasons for this. First, by pumping taxpayer money into Medicaid and Medicare the government guarantees healthcare providers an income. This stifles competition, and no competition means higher prices. Second, government sets standards for medical facilities, procedures, personnel, and so forth; and the necessity of meeting these standards also runs prices up.

I spent five hours in McKenzie Willamette Medical Center last March for outpatient surgery, and I was comforted to know that my caregivers met government standards. Those five hours cost $18,695, and that didn’t include the surgeon’s bill, the anesthesiologist’s bill, or anything else. When medications, x-rays, blood tests, follow up doctor’s visits, physical therapy appointments, three MRIs ($1,300 each), and so forth, were included, that one outpatient procedure cost more than $40,000, and the bills are still coming in because I’m still needing follow-up care.

Let’s say that Aaron is right, and that if government stopped paying for any medical care for anyone and got out of the business of setting standards for doctors, drugs, procedures, and facilities; health care costs would drop. He didn’t give a percentage, but for sake of argument, let’s imagine that they would drop by two-thirds. Instead of $40,000, my bill would have been $13,333. If I were among the many who work a 40-hour week for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, I would have to work almost a year (46 weeks) to pay for that one surgery. Since I’m in worse shape now than I was before the surgery, I would be unable to work at all if I were a manual laborer, and no work would mean no income and no income would mean no insurance.

Under Aaron’s proposal, I would be obliged to appeal to private charity for help. This would mean filling out applications for one or more charities and going through what would surely be an extensive screening process. Would I go to one charity for health care assistance and other charities for food, heating oil, and help with the mortgage? And if approved, would I be approved for whatever was necessary, or would I have to have every procedure, every drug, and every office visit to every specialist approved separately and in advance? Would the charity then comb through every bill and negotiate a lower price with the provider as insurance companies do? Would there be a yearly—or a lifetime—maximum that they would—or could—spend?

Now, let’s multiply my problem by the millions who would need help, and let’s imagine that instead of being sixty and needing shoulder surgery, I’m eighty and suffering from dementia and kidney failure and need round the clock nursing care and weekly dialysis. Talk about health care rationing! Talk about death panels! How else could it play out? Private charities could no more pick up the tab for health care than they could pay for building roads or maintaining the military.

Just think of the millions of people who are chronically ill or aging, thousands of them unable to even seek help on their own behalf, and tell me that a network of charities could work. A fundraiser was recently held at a pizza joint here for a little boy who was severely injured when a drunk driver hit the car he was in, killing everyone but that child. $10,000 was raised. Think of it. $10,000 for a severely injured child who might need a lifetime of care. How many pizza feeds would Aaron propose and for how many children? And what would become of people like the old man with dementia if no one wanted to hold fundraisers for them? Under Aaron’s plan, they would die. Those who were on top in our society would still drive their Lexus’s and live in their 5,000 square foot hillside mini-mansions with the five car garages, while those who were less fortunate would be left to suffer and perish, literally by the roadside. When we Americans talk about how much a person is worth when what we mean is how much money does he have, we’re not speaking metaphorically.

Yet, I do not think believe that my friend Aaron is heartless, or else I would not call him my friend. I actually think he is an idealist who sincerely believes that laissez faire capitalism would lead to a better world for everyone. I also suspect that he is a bit of an ideologue, but maybe I project. I was once a devotee of Ayn Rand because she made it all look so good on paper. In her books, the capitalists were creative and hardworking visionaries of uncompromising virtue; the socialists self-aggrandizing manipulators devoid of integrity; and there was no middle ground. Then I read about the Industrial Revolution, a time that came nearer to her vision of unrestrained capitalism than any other era. And what happened? The very few got very rich upon the backs of the very many. Human beings were treated like machine parts that were so cheap and plentiful that their welfare was not worthy of consideration.

Children were chained to work stations twelve hours a day seven days a week. Their emaciated bodies shivered wretchedly in thin rags in the winter and dropped from heat exhaustion in the summer. They became stooped from overwork; they got rickets from bread and water diets; they lost fingers, hands, and sometimes their lives to noisy and dangerous machinery. They died from breathing noxious chemicals or absorbing them through their skins. Laissez faire capitalism meant no fire codes, so they perished by the hundreds in burning factories. And when workers died because of the negligence of their employers, their families got NOTHING but poorer, sadder, and more desperate. Meanwhile, the children of the rich partied before moving from their city mansions in winter to their country—or European—mansions in summer, all while gaily dressed in the furs of slaughtered animals and the plumages of endangered birds. They might as well have gone all out like those Nazis who made handicrafts from the skins of laborers who died of exposure and exhaustion.

America then was like many of the so-called “Developing Nations” are today, and it would take a stretch of the imagination to imagine anything more cruel. But that’s what unrestrained capitalism looks like; a few ruthless men (mostly men) making more money before lunch than hundreds of their employees will earn in their short miserable lives. Whatever the evils of socialism, in theory at least, it holds human life as more valuable than limitless wealth amassed without regard for how many people are ground to dust in the process. Ayn Rand was wrong. There is a middle ground, and it starts with insuring that people aren’t left to die because they can’t afford to be treated.

45 comments:

Michelle said...

Well said Snow. It is a sad world when we cannot look after the sick, regardless of the cost. Humanity MUST prevail somewhere or what on earth is the point? I live in a country where health care is a right yeah, and I appreciate that it does not always provide the very best of everything, but hey, no one gets turned away because they can't pay.
I may be missing a point or two but, in general.....yeah.

xxx

C Woods said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I am going to ramble here. I guess I should just write my own post.

Health insurance profits have gone up 1000% over the last 10 years and my premiums have gone up 313% ---and that is with a $1500 annual deductible whereas I had no deductible in 1999. If we got a plan with no deductible now, we would pay 381% more than 1999. So, we are hoping we can get away with paying less than the $1500 deductible by skimping on doctor visits, and hope nothing major happens.

If my premiums triple in 10 years, and then triple again in the next ten, I will be paying more than my income will be by then.

What irks me is that the insurance companies are using MY money to lobby against health care reform instead of using it to make people well. And I bet the insurance co. executives took home multi-million dollar bonuses, too.

As to your first point, I don't mind paying a little more in fees or taxes, if I know it is helping someone who can't afford it. I don't have children, but I don't mind paying school taxes because I know an ignorant population is not in anyone's best interests. An unhealthy population costs more money than a healthy one. As they say, pay now, or pay more later.

In Michael Moore's "Sicko" he spoke to a former MP in England, where they decided to offer health care to all after WWII. Their reasoning was, if they could find the funds to fight the Nazi's, they can find the funds to keep their own people healthy.

Rachel Maddow did a segment called the "Pizza Parable." She asked a co-worker if he wanted to order pizza. He said yes. She asked if he wanted pepperoni. No. Sausage, No. Mushrooms. No. He didn't even want sauce, cheese or crust. The Republicans keep saying they want health care reform, but no matter what is offered, they don't want it. So I guess they really don't want pizza ---or health care reform.

Health care has always been "rationed." That's what triage is in war or in a natural disaster. You first help those who are chronically ill or injured but who have a good chance of survival. When my father was in his 70's his kidney's were not functioning at full capacity. My mother hoped he would be able to get a kidney transplant. I hated to have to tell her that there was no way a 72-year-old, diabetic, who had had a stroke and no longer knew who we were was going to be approved for a transplant. In fact, the doctors didn't even recommend dialysis. I didn't want him to die, but I knew his life would be miserable in the state he was in if he were kept alive. And I also wanted an available kidney to go to a younger person. I'm in my 60's and I see the logic of this, even though I know I might be the person denied a transplant because of my age.

And those who claim it will be socialized medicine ---the health care system the military has now is socialized medicine. If it's good enough for our troops, why isn't it good enough for the rest of us?

Okay, I've ranted. Sorry I took so much of your space and time, but I just couldn't help myself. Maybe I need a brain transplant.

ellen abbott said...

Being a 59 yr old self employed artist with no health insurance, this topic is of particular interest to me. Fortunately my husband and I are in good health with a few minor ailments. Something needs to be done but I don't think mandatory insurance, as is on the table now, is the answer. What good is minimal coverage with an extremely high deductible? I would be paying for insurance that did me no good AND paying my own medical bills. The haves are totally unconcerned about the have nots. My brother works in the health care industry (manufacturing of ultra sound, xray, mri, etc). He makes more in one month than I make all year. He's got the huge house in the tony neighborhood, owns 50% of a small private plane, drives an insanely expensive car, you get the picture. Just one of the reasons the tests those machines do cost so much.

Another story...my granddaughter (whose family also has no health insurance) had to go to the emergency room (because all the small clinics that do minor emergency care have closed) to get a cut on her chin sewed up. Emergency room bill...$1200 for about one hour (really? $1200 for a little girl to sit on the bench they call a bed for one hour) and the doctor bill for pinching the small cut together and dabbing some super glue on it was $800 for 5 minutes of his time. A woman who is married to a doctor who I told this story to tried to defend the doctor's bill by quoting all the expense of medical school. I'm sorry, there is no defense for that. $800 for 5 minutes and a dab of super glue.

Clearly, capitalism is not the answer.

Just_because_today said...

I dont agree with everything that you say here regarding capitalism and socialism but I do agree on the need to insure people. Your second paragraph says it all. I too have had to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Very good post, as all of yours are.

All Consuming said...

I couldn't agree with you more, let those who oppose it spend a day, or even an hour experiencing the pain many of us do daily and then consider how it would be to have no capability of funding the necessary healthcare needed to ease said pain, with the prospect of having to in effect beg for help. I'd write more but can't type too much today.

Hope you're having a good day Snow, *smiles and waves.

rhymeswithplague said...

Wow, Snow, you are very good at describing the extremes at both ends of our society. But is it the fault of the ones in the middle? Should they have to pay for it? I have read that the super-rich already pay 97% of the taxes. There must be a flaw in there somewhere, but my head hurts too much just reading what you wrote to try to formulate a coherent response.

For the record, though, I wouldn't describe a 5,000 sq. ft. mansion with a five-car garage as "mini."

Now I have that old gospel song, "I've Got A Five Thousand Square Foot Manstion With A Five Car Garage Just Over The Hilltop" running through my head....

I don't mean to make light of what you are saying about healthcare; that part just struck me as funny.

Gaston Studio said...

Yea for the middle ground! Well done Snow!

BTW, I thought I HAD commented about why the poorest parts of the country don't want national health care...?!

Marion said...

"What is the message in this? That your life is worthless aside from your ability to earn money with which to buy insurance?"

YES.

Oh, and for the record, I'm a registered Republican and Southern and I'm for national health care.

Great, thoughtful post, Snow. Blessings!

Itch2stitch.com said...

Hello Snow! I totally agree with your post. I think I may have said before, that I live in England where we are lucky (I believe) to have the national health service. When People like me for instance get cancer, they get taken into a system where they recieve all the care and treatment they need regardless of how much money they have. They could be a homeless person who has just come from the street, they will get care. Chemotherapy, which is an expensive treatment is given freely. If like in my case someone needs a masectomy, they also give you the option of having a full reconstruction too, with absolutely no money involved at all. This applies to any treatments for any health issue. You would not have had any of the worries which you have had regarding your treatments.
Now, I feel that this is the right thing. We, I feel are all connected, and are human beings and not one person should be denied this care. What kind of a world would we be living in, where a person in need was just passed by because they didn't have money? That to me would be shocking and unthinkable. Suzie. x

Snowbrush said...

I am touched by the interest in my two health-care posts on the part of readers who aren't Americans.

Yes, Itch, I know that no one is denied in England, including Americans. I jokingly proposed when I last wrote on the subject that America's new health policy could simply consist of buying sick people a plane ticket to London. BTW, All Consuming lives in England too.

Just Because: "I dont agree with everything that you say here regarding capitalism and socialism..."

I wonder what... I suspect that a blending of systems is preferable to either by itself, and we already have such a blending, and have since the beginning, what with public libraries, public schools, public sewers, roads, etc. The question now is whether we increase the socialist side of the blending.

Gaston Studio: "I thought I HAD commented about why the poorest parts of the country don't want national health care...?!

Jane, I couldn't find the response that you referred to.

Marion: " I'm a registered Republican and Southern and I'm for national health care."

I assumed you were, but does your minority status bother you? One of the main reasons I left Mississippi was that I simply got tired of holding views that made most of my neighbors turn red with anger.

Rhymes: "I have read that the super-rich already pay 97% of the taxes. "

If you remember where you came across that, could you send me a link?

All Consuming: "let those who oppose it spend a day, or even an hour experiencing the pain many of us do daily and then consider how it would be to have no capability of funding the necessary healthcare needed to ease said pain"

Yes, Michelle, I do understand, at least better than most. I have often thought that you might be lucky to live in England.

C Woods: "What irks me is that the insurance companies are using MY money to lobby against health care reform instead of using it to make people well."

I hadn't thought of that. Yes, the argument that universal care would lead to rationing is absurd. I think that what people who make that argument mean is that they themselves have such good insurance that they can't imagine their OWN care being rationed, and they're afraid they would lose their VIP status if they had the same care as everyone else.

rhymeswithplague said...

By "absolutely no money involved at all," itch2stitch means "at some ungodly tax rate that has been in place for so long that it now seems normal the the average British citizen and which would scare you Yanks so much you would undoubtedly soil your skivvies."

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes: "By "absolutely no money involved at all," itch2stitch means "at some ungodly tax rate"

Are you aware, my friend, that the U.S. leads the world in healthcare spending but falls far behind many nations in quality of care. Even the poorest people in England are in better health than the wealthiest here.

Itch2stitch.com said...

I have been reading these replys with interest! May I say that yes, my husband and I pay tax, but I would rather do that and have everyone cared for. If I felt that I had care when others did not, that would sadden me greatly as a human being. People who feel bitter about this, may feel differently if they lost their jobs and there wasnt a health care system, and they could not get or pay for the treatments they needed.
It may look a lot different from the other side of the fence then! If a person was on the side of the road suffering, who could walk by and pretend not to see. Certainly I could not do so. Suzie.x

robert said...

Always of interest to read about what's going on, on the other side of the Atlantic.
With regard to Health&its Care over here, allow me to say that quality is pretty poor, the costs way too high.
It was only last Thursday when we had to pay about US $ 100 for the vacc. of my two year old son.
With such small children having to do various vaccinations during their first two years, one might imagen the amount of money paid.
While being pregnat we had to pay for every visit to the doc. about the same amount of money, let alone the 2,500 after the kid was born - did I mention, that all that was paid without receiving a receipt...
Seems as if the world is indeed in need of a good health care system.

kj said...

snow, you are always gracious and tolerant of different views, but may i politely say that aaron sounds out to lunch. i think of the phillipines where citizens are pretty much left on their own for health care, legal matters, etc, and it seems that the one constant in that form of 'hands off' is the greed of the few over the needs of the many.

you've written a thoughtful piece here, snow. thank you for it.

xoxo

lakeviewer said...

The reason we come together and form governments of any kind is to provide for common things. Insuring that people have clean water, police and schools are some of these things. Now we realize that medical care can bankrupt and destroy many people. Providing for reasonably priced medical care is something the government can do better and cheaper because it can tax/control costs and regulate/audit quality. Most industries are regulated so they provide safety for their employees and their products. The medical industry needs similar regulations.

Most important, it is a moral obligation for all of us to provide basic care for everyone.

Itch2stitch.com said...

Hello again Snow! Thanks for visiting my blog again and leaving such a lovely comment. It cheered me! Suzie. x

The 4th Sister said...

I am one of those that live in the US and has cancer...I had always considered myself and Husband in the middle class...I am disabled now but my husband always had pretty good insurance untill 8/09 when his company got bought out and the new company has stinky insurance and we are paying through the nose...My first treatment (on this new ins.)of Herceptin was over 7K and I had to pay 1297 out of pocket....I get this ever 3 weeks...I am ready for a change.. Jan. 10 I will be able to get Medicare too, I hope I am better off them...

Renee said...

Well written.

I would be terrified to be ill if I lived in the States.

Love Renee xoxo

patsy said...

As I see it thoes who have want to keep it and thoes who don't can just do with out if some people have their way. my children have insurance from the company where they work. they pay larger premimuns every year and have a larger deductable every year.
something has got to give.
I have been told that when the people have nothing to lose they will rise up and we are getting to that place soon. if the hordes of people go on a ram page can the few rich people hold unto their wealth or will it be destroyed in the flames when our cities burn?

Teresa said...

Hi Snow,
I am a 'healthy person living in Canada' and I don't have to be afraid to get sick. That is a least one thing I am grateful for. My daughter-in-law's father is a Doctor here, and he makes good money, but not nearly as much as he would if he lived in the U.S., and it would be easy for him to leave and go there.

I think a lot of people are being brainwashed by the media, and the people who are making the big bucks. Healthcare reform, is not in their best interest, but I do think it is in the best interest of the rest of you.

spottedwolf said...

After spending 25 years in the south I'd say you and I have some common ground with which to offer argument both for and against US gov't policies. While US pharmacology groups hunt for and single out those disgruntled examples of Canadian citizenship to fill commercials deriding socialized medicine.....it is these same people who would shit bricks if they did not have the medical system they enjoy. When hire for pay opinions are requested....liars are created.

The simple truth of health care is the business it has become. Pharmacology is, by and large, the main 'driver' of its attitudes. The portrait painted by paid lobbyists will always be to the detriment of the less than affluent. If you examine closely..the cause/effect equation of the mortgage crisis you can parallel the root problems profit driven democracy has with any of its systems....including health. When a dynamic of need exceeds a dynamic of solution...it is always due to profitability. The states lost its ability to concern itself with the individual as it became increasingly industrialized. Methods currently used to create public debt by banking structures are exactly the same as those used by despots and royalty. Human beings do not easily relenquish their personal self-perpetuating attitudes.
In 1979-80 at the age of 27 I returned to Canada...an adult...by choice for I realized I'd be better off in a country less industrial. I was correct and have never regretted my choice. Though social democracy may not be popular with the uninitiated.....it is the only way your system can survive. This old planet has only a certain amount of raw resource from which to create its cultures......and free market economies or competitive practice economies....are the greatest contributor to chaos in high density populations.

Bernie said...

I often pop in and read your post as I do many others. I am Canadian so I feel I shouldn't be involved in your health care discussion. I have to admit I have been waiting for someone to speak out on this subject for a while now...I think you have done a wonderful job explaining this issue, and I am glad finally someone has explained it in a way that everyday people can understand. When I listened to the spin by some of your senators I would honestly feel sick to my stomach. Well done Snow, I only wish more people would have access to your blog or more people would speak out. I have had Breast Cancer and other ailments and I thank God everyday that I haven't had to worry about money to pay for my treatment, I was able to use my energy to get well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very important subject, everyone deserves quality health care.
.....:-) Hugs

nollyposh said...

i agree with you Snowbrush i think that it is the RESPONSIBILITY of those with a job to support the health of those who don't, we are all connected... We were ALL shocked about what happened in New Orleans... A national health system is the responsibility of a caring country/nation... Indeed i was listening to talkback radio last night and a charity worker suggested that if we all took the responsibility and 'tithed' according to our ability to afford it (a certain percentage of our wages) that we could feed the worlds hungry and help set them up to be independent for themselves... Isn't that a fabulous thought! Perhaps if we can pay taxes we can do this too. Perhaps we should just un-complicate things and go back to the basics? i paid through my Private health cover for the chemo and original op i had (Because it mean't i was seen more quickly as it was just before Christmas at the time) but i then went back into the public system so that i had very little costs, afteral that is why i pay my taxes. How lucky i am to have that choice here in Australia... i have known/know people in charity reliant situations and they say they have very little paperwork requirements to receive basic care (ie) food and emergency money here in Australia... i spoke to a volunteer charity worker friend of mine and he said that our system is very aware of the emotional side of being in a money-less situation and understand that people get there for many a varied reason and therefore are usually really embarrassed to be asking for help in the fist place, so personal info requirements are kept to a minimum...
We would do well to study the way the swede's do things, they have high taxes but everyone is cared for in their system.

There but for the Grace of God go i...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I find it unfathomable, and incredibly shameful, that American does not have a national heath care system. As self-employed artsy types, my husband and I have always had to purchase our own health insurance. Those costs are not "hidden" to us, as they sometimes are to those with employer paid insurance. It is the largest bill we have. I can visualize only too well what would happen if we could not manage to purchase it for ourselves. I shudder to think. And I know there are so many, many Americans in horrible situations without health insurance. Like I said, shameful.

JOE TODD said...

Snow I couldn't read all of your post because "The health insurance industry in this country really pisses me off" The medical industry supports the insurance industry and in my opinion that is why medical care is so expensive. There are three words in my opinion and experience describe the insurance industry: DENY,DEFEND,DELAY. An example |I had a dental proceedure PRE APPROVED. My dentist billed the insurance company and got a letter back from them saying I wasn't covered at the time. What a crock of sh..... I sure hope there is a public option in the "reform pkg." The country needs some way to keep the insurance companys honest.

Chrisy said...

As an Australian I find abhorrant that people in the USA are going bankrupt, being in debt for their whole lives, deny themselves access to medical treatment because of cost. I cannot understand how American citizens have allowed this to continue without raising up enmasse and saying No More! Here, if we have private health insurance, we get a small tax rebate as an incentive. Here, if a person doesn't have private insurance, they receive free treatment through our public hospitals. If other countries can make it work, why can't the US?

Marion said...

Snow, yes, and I'm seriously contemplating officially changing to the Independent party. I like the sound of it anyway. Blessings!

Strayer said...

I lived imprisoned by the mental health system's drug pimping shrinks, which cost taxpayers and don't work, for 30 years before I escaped, with the help of the cats of course. It was unbelievable, when I think back on it, the lack of common sense. The psyche wards are merely drug indoctrination boot camps. Some psyche patients would be on nine drugs a day, each costing up to $4 or more per pill. They did not help. Abuse was rampant. Costs were unbelievable, for lousy outcomes. WTF? Why does the drug industry have such a hold on American medicine? Besides the all around perks that is.

Snowbrush said...

I got an email from Aaron (the man who inspired the above) and have asked for permission to post it here. I'm still waiting to hear back.

Nolly Posh: "i think that it is the RESPONSIBILITY of those with a job to support the health of those who don't"

What do you say, though, to someone like Aaron to whom this is not evident? If you tell him he's obligated, and he demands that you prove your position, what proof would you offer?

Strayer: "Why does the drug industry have such a hold on American medicine?"

Aggressive marketing, aggressive lobbying, enormous bribes, and the promise of an easy fix to every problem probably have a lot to do with it.

ItchtoStitch: "If a person was on the side of the road suffering, who could walk by and pretend not to see."

There sure are an awfully lot of people on the side of the road though. I heard on the news just yesterday that the U.S. is bringing 100,000 refugees here to care for them. These people are sick, malnourished, have few job skills, and don't even speak English. Imagine the cost of caring for them for years and years. Now, even if this makes sense in country that is decades in debt, shouldn't we at least provide the same care to our own citizens? Obviously not because doing THAT would take money away from the insurance companies.

Chrisy: "If other countries can make it work, why can't the US?"

According to the polls, a large majority of Americans want it to work, but we're not going to get it because insurance companies own our Senators and Congressmen. There are six insurance lobbyists in D.C. to every lawmaker, and some lawmakers get over a million dollars a year in campaign contributions from insurance companies. All the average person can do is to vote the bad guys out, but when the elections are financed by large corporations, it's awfully hard for the average person to know the truth about the people they're voting on.

Bernie: "I am Canadian so I feel I shouldn't be involved in your health care discussion."

Please see Spotted Wolf's response. Your words are needed as the only Canadians we typically hear from are the ones who are willing to criticize their health care system.

Robert: "With regard to Health&its Care over here, allow me to say that quality is pretty poor, the costs way too high."

Robert, you are in Greece, a country that few of us here know anything about in regard to health care. From what you wrote, I would guess that it is more like the U.S., than it is like much of the world.

Lakeviewer: "it is a moral obligation for all of us to provide basic care for everyone."

You would include people who are here illegally? After the tsunami a couple of years ago, I heard a preacher say that, if we really followed Jesus, we would mortgage our homes in order to raise money for the relief effort. To provide care for everyone who manages to sneak into the country would be more than I could vote for, at least at the outset. After we see how helping ourselves goes, I would then be in favor of seeing what we could do for others.

Spotted Wolf, thank you for your insightful comments. We are of one mind here.

Marion, Pamela, Teresa, Renee, KJ, thank you too. Whew. I hope I didn't miss anyone.

Snowbrush said...

Lakeviewer said: "it is a moral obligation for all of us to provide basic care for everyone."

And Snowbrush responded: "You would include people who are here illegally? After the tsunami a couple of years ago, I heard a preacher say that, if we really followed Jesus, we would mortgage our homes in order to raise money for the relief effort. To provide care for everyone who manages to sneak into the country would be more than I could vote for, at least at the outset. After we see how helping ourselves goes, I would then be in favor of seeing what we could do for others."

Part of what I meant to write got lost as I copied and pasted. The analogy that i meant to draw between the advice of the preacher I mentioned and providing health care for everyone who comes here is that I simply don't see that either is feasible. We can't continue to finance everything we want to do with borrowed money. I would propose that we first take care of our own basic needs; that we then get ourselves out of debt; and only then that we think about what we can do to help others.

Just_because_today said...

I love your writing. I have added you to my favorite blogs. You truly have a gift for writing.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Indeed! We need national health care! Great post.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am so happy you enjoyed my photography.

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography
Blog of Note

The Blog Fodder said...

Hi, Snowbrush, just catching up on my backlog. Superbe article. I am a Canadian and have been thankful for our single payer medical system which has existed most of my life. Flaws, yes but we are all covered equally and no one is left out. I hope that USA is successful in getting a decent health care system which its citizens have demanded for years but have been ignored.
And the answer to why Aaron should help pay for others medical needs - same reason the other guy's son might have to die in a foreign war defending him - because you are a country and you are all in it together.

Snowbrush said...

THE FOLLOWING WAS FROM AARON IN RESPONSE TO THIS POST

"Thank you for addressing the subject in your blog. I think that you represent your view well and you also honestly explained some of what I believe on the subject. I have been considering starting a blog. This might inspire me to write my own. If I decide to start up a blog, I will let you know.

"By the way, I take no offense to anything you wrote. In fact, I am impressed that you are a person that will articulate their opinion and will examine it under criticism. I am never offended by someone challenging an idea of mine, because I am not interested in defending the idea but figuring out the truth of the matter. Since my attachment is to the truth instead of to a particular stance, I actually enjoy hearing people critique ideas that I hold to be true. Whenever I realize that an idea that I have previously held turns out to be incorrect, I get a little bit of a high from learning something new.

"I appreciated that you did not present the other side of the argument as a demonization of the free market solution to health care. I think we are both defending systems that we believe to be the most compassionate."

Blog Fodder: "And the answer to why Aaron should help pay for others medical needs - same reason the other guy's son might have to die in a foreign war defending him - because you are a country and you are all in it together."

I wonder how Aaron would feel about compulsory military service. Maybe he would hold it in the same low esteem that he holds compelling people to pay for social services. Aaron?

julie mitchell said...

The whole health care issue leaves me depressed and angry and puzzled. People are allowed to die in this country. It's simple as that..we are a rich nation that has been bought and paid for by corporations. Health care and educations are just two of the inequities in our country. If our health care system would at the very least cover regular 'well checks' for everyone it would save us tons of money. One out of every 3 people is expected to get diabetes and by time it is discovered it will be to late for quick fixes. Do we just let them die? Maybe that's the answer. I get so frustrated when people bring up the fact that if the government takes over health care they won't get the treatments they need. Do they now? Insurance companies have a boat load of people figuring out ways to avoid giving people the care they need...I just don't get it. Are we really the only industrialized nation against health care???

Renee said...

Dear Snow how are you dear friend? I often wonder how is my intellectual friend that holds no pretense? How is he today?

Lov eRenee xoxo

tony said...

Its nice to read some sensible debate on Health Care coming out of The States..As a Brit with a fine National Health System, such issues are taken for granted.Health is a universal Right for all.
We have a Joke in England."Whats the difference between English & American Health Care"?
Answer= "If you get run over by car in England,the first thing the Ambulance Driver does is take your pulse.In America, the first thing he does is take your credit-card number."
Regards
Tony.

geek said...

Wow. This is truly a new picture of America that we have imagined here. When we talk about America, it's usually the better one, the more comfortable place, better economy, etc. etc. Therefore, when you said "America then was like many of the so-called “Developing Nations” are today". I was just baffled.

It seems like we have the same problem. Though, if I understood it correctly, healthcare providers are subsidized by the government? The case here however, is medical institutions are private and run as businesses -- which is also difficult for us, since there is no regulation of the prices.

I know how you feel about the exorbitant pricing in just healthcare. Many of us here die since many of us can't afford even simple medicine.

It makes me feel disappointed with humans, though? How can they (or us) be so greedy?

Marion said...

As a Canadian, for as long as I can remember, my medical cares have been taken care of, without individual payment to the doctor. I have had free medical care, being under the income standard, at times of need in my life. Mostly, however, I have paid a monthly medical premium. And I am lucky enough to have private insurance, as well, which picks up where BCMED leaves off.

Having been the recipient of 'free care' I have no resentment within me for those who cannot pay a monthly premium. I am happy, now, to pick up that part, and grateful to be in a place where I can do so.

I wish, with all my heart, that medical care in the US and other parts comes to all people, no matter their circumstances, without the constant worry of having to pay the bills occurred.

People waiting too long for care are in danger. I hope this issue can be resolved soon.

Liss said...

Well I'm glad I am not America!! It astonishes me that a country that considers it self a world leader offers third world health cover for it people.

Though the Australian public / free health care system is not with out it's problems (lack of bed in hospitals and waiting list)I can walk into to see a doctor and walk out without a huge or at times any bill.

Mim said...

While I am almost completely in favor of some sort of a national health, I also want to have my own private health. The crazy thing is how much I pay now in taxes and taxes on taxes for other peoples health care - I don't see how I can pay more.
After my husbands kidney transplant they insisted that he go on medicare - it'a rule, even if you don't need it at that time (which we didn't as we had private care). But we had to have him sign up, no big deal - maybe 75.00/month. Then they came to use a few years later and said "you're making too much money for Medicare, but you have to have it so we're going to charge you 10x as much". We said "we don't want/need Medicare" but they said TOO bad and now we pay a fortune for care that we don't need. Wasteful if I ever heard of it. And this is on top of federal taxes that I pay that would support a family of 4 very nicely.
so, while I want everyone to have coverage, I don't think our gov't had what it takes to manage a program as extensive as what we need.

Maya said...

Well said. I just went through a very expensive procedure and couldn't agree with you more. Especially since I need a second procedure just like the first. With insurance, I would just have to be crippled, in pain and in a wheelchair.

The question is 'what is the worth of a human?"

Denmark has a 50% income tax, flat. But they also have excellent free health care, free education including college, unemployment insurance that will help you get another job and pay you up to 4 years 90% of what you earned at your last job. They have no fear of being homeless, without heathcare or uneducated and are reported to being the happiest society on Earth. When asked about how they view themselves, they stated not socialist but civilized. I have to agree. They also value life over possessions.

Rob-bear said...

I'm a little slow in catching up with your writing, Snow, but I decided to add a few thoughts.

I am a not-so-healthy person living in Canada, but I don't have to be afraid to get sick. We look after each other. The process behind this is called "co-operation"; it's a concept that few Americans understand. It's working together to solve common problems. Or as lakeviewer put it, we Canadians generally believe "it is a moral obligation for all of us to provide basic care for everyone." We work on it together.

And I suspect rhymeswithplague has got it all wrong when saying British national health is funded "at some ungodly tax rate that has been in place for so long that it now seems normal the the average British citizen and which would scare you Yanks so much you would undoubtedly soil your skivvies." We Canadians, like the Brits, pay for our health care through our taxes. My TOTAL income taxes for 2009 — federal and provincial (meaning state) come to less than one month's payment for American health insurance. That just shows how uninformed some people are.

My only regret for you Americans is that you got the worst of all possible deals from your congress. Wouldn't General Motors love it if congress passed a bill saying, "Every American must own a car, and it must be an American car." Health care "reform" in the US is simply a gift to the health insurance industry, and will cost Americans more and more all the time, while the insurance companies will have no incentive to change their practices. As C. Woods noted, "Health insurance profits have gone up 1000% over the last 10 years and my premiums have gone up 313%"; you can expect that to continue. And inability to pay health bills will stay the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the U.S.

Snowbrush said...

I'm so sorry guys that I'm only not getting back to your responses.

Rob-bear, I could write a book about the obscenity that passes for health-care in America, but then a lot of us could. For example, there was the 11 year old boy who took a hard fall on concrete and detached both retinas. His sight could have been saved with surgery, but his parents had no insurance. Now the government will spend many times more what the surgery would have cost to educate him.

But I know that socialized systems often have pretty bad problems too. An English friend (her blog is called All Consuming) wrote that there's a two year wait for urgent surgery in her country. I thought she surely meant non-urgent, but she didn't. I doubt that the queen or her kids have to wait two years though, and I recall a scandal in Canada about those in power being moved up in line. Still, I would trade what I have for what you have.

Maya said: "Without insurance, I would just have to be crippled, in pain and in a wheelchair."

That's just the kind of thing that wakes a lot of us up. You realize that it's just pure luck that you're not broke and suffering because your insurance was cancelled when you got too sick to work.

Liss wrote: "It astonishes me that a country that considers it self a world leader offers third world health cover for it people."

I know, yet most people either oppose universal coverage or they're ambivalent about it. You see, most Americans only know what big business wants them to know, and most Congressmen only vote the way big business wants them to vote. It's a money-run system we've got here.

Marion, you're another happy Canuck!

So, Geek, things aren't so great in the Philippines, I take it.

Tony, what do you think about my response to Rob-bear about the long wait periods in England?

Oh, my god, here's a response from Renee, and now she's dead! How I miss her. This could well be the last time she wrote, and I'm only now answering it.

Yeah, Julie, you and I are on the same page about the issue.

Again, I apologize for the long delay in responding.