National health care insurance option NOW
President Obama is pushing health care reform, because it’s gotten to the level of a major economic problem in addition to the humanitarian one it’s been all along. I’ve had more exposure to our health care system lately than I ever thought possible, but thanks to excellent health insurance it isn’t likely to ruin me financially. I’m in an extremely fortunate category in that respect.
Many people have health insurance that isn’t worth a damn. A recent Harvard study concluded that more than half of the bankruptcies in this country are caused by medical debt of people who have health insurance. Seriously! The big companies have entire divisions full of people in rooms without windows, pushing around data forms with your name on them, whose only job is to deny care wherever they can.
Another terrible scenario: no health insurance at all, which is truly walking a high wire without a net. It’s easy to criticize the foolhardiness of the tightrope walker as long as you keep yourself from knowing how they were pushed out onto the wire in the first place. Which leads to a very telling comment that MrsDoF received at her mammogram appointment today:
“I’m glad you’re here!” said the technician. “I’ve been bored out of my tree. People are losing their health insurance and canceling their mammograms.”
Stop right there: I don’t want to hear one damn word from anyone about “health care rationing” in those eeeevil Socialist countries with single-payer insurance. I personally know plenty of people who are walking-wounded because they can’t afford health insurance that actually works. In previous years, I’ve been there myself. If someone insists on living in a Ryandian bubble, that is their privilege but the rest of us would prefer that policies be informed by experimental results. For example, if you need health care, what IS it really like in those other countries? The Denialism blog has been doing a nifty series on it: What’s it like in Canada, the UK, and New Zealand? Or France or Germany? Australia or The Netherlands?
What does Obama’s plan look like? What should a national health care system look like? What’s the cause of excess cost in US health care? Are patients in universal health care countries less satisfied?
Taken together these posts paint a picture of several ways it can be done, by pretty much any modern industrialized country except, apparently, ours. They’re spending less per person than we do and getting better results. Maybe it’s because people go to the doctor when they’re sick, instead of holding out until it becomes an emergency room visit. Maybe it’s because companies in those countries aren’t crippled by health insurance costs; the society as a whole bears it more gracefully. Maybe their medical communities are less concerned with defensive medicine and covering their asses. But the point is, even if their systems aren’t perfect, they work, for a much wider swath of society.
It’s painfully clear to me that the Republicans are going to dig in their heels on health care reform, and preserve every inch of the status quo that they possibly can. There’s no bipartisanship to it. So we’re not going to get single-payer in this country, at least not as long as the really big money is against it. But we need a government insurance option for the uninsured, and we need it NOW. It’s been a darned sweet ride for the private health insurance companies, and that’ll continue on some level for sure. But let’s try to get this one thing right, while the issue is on the table.
- The Pump Handle: Healthcare reform proposals taking shape
- Bill Moyers on single payer health insurance, an historical perspective
- Highlights of Obama’s Health Care Speech
- Insurance industry front group admits nearly 120m Americans would prefer federally-run health care
- Buckeye Surgeon has a clue as to why we spend such a huge percentage of our health care dollars on the last few weeks of life in Microcosm. It’s a familiar story and I’ve witnessed a few examples of this phenomenon personally.