Words mean something. I know in our postmodern age we don't like to recognize the fact that words have definite meanings, but ignoring it doesn't change the reality. As our Democratically controlled congress works to pass a "universal health care" plan I think it is important for us to be sure we first know what it is we actually want and then secondly know what we are getting.
We Americans want to ensure that no person is ever denied medical care because of his inability to pay. This is a moral and worthy goal, after all, we are "our brother's keeper" and we must "love our neighbor as ourselves."
The legislation is being touted by those who look out and see that so many people lack health insurance. The problem, though, is that insurance is not medical care. Insurance should be be a way to pay for unexpected costs. We have been using health insurance, though, in a more hybrid way. We use it to pay for the unexpected costs and the expected, routine costs.
I carry car insurance in case my car unexpectedly gets damaged. My car insurance does NOT cover routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, or fried O2 sensors. I carry home-owners insurance is case a fire or weather unexpectedly causes me to lose my house. My home insurance does not cover routine maintenance to the house such as termite control, replacing batteries in the smoke detectors, etc... Insurance helps me to mitigate the risk of financial loss due to unexpected (and rare) occurrences.
Using health insurance for wellness visits, annual exams, and even (I'm going to get stoned with this one) childbirth labor and delivery costs (usually childbirth is expected - obviously if there is an emergency during that process, then it would be defined as the unexpected cost and be covered by insurance) has helped increase the entire cost of the medical care industry. Because people are not paying directly out of pocket for those routine costs, they don't shop around for the best price and they are more likely to consume the service (i.e., demand for the service increase, but supply stays the same...so prices rise), so the costs of medical care rise.
Another thing that is important it to note is that medical care is NOT health care. Medical care is what doctors can do for you, such as lab tests, surgery, and medications . Health care is what you can do for yourself, such as diet, exercise and lifestyle. Herein lies a truth that the media and the government will not tell you when they compare the "American health care system" to "CountryXYZ health care system". Americans tend to be more obese, consume more drugs and engage in other risky lifestyle choices. So,they do tend to have less "health care."
However, countries with better health care DO NOT have more or better medical care. Compare medical care to those same countries, and America comes out a leader every time. America has four times as many MRI machines per capita than Britain or Canada. There are more than twice as many CT scanners per capita in the United States as in Canada and more than four times as many per capita as in Britain.
The "problem" is that all of this high-tech, advanced equipment and procedures cost money, a lot of money. And therein is trade-off. Selfish, spoiled Americans want the best treatment and equipment money can buy, but they want someone else to pay the cost. So, they whine and complain about the "cost of health care."
The legislation that is being proposed is a reaction from politicians to whining and complaining from the American people. People are upset about our current system of care. What is it that people are most upset about? Well, the cost of medical care and the fact that there are uninsured people out there.
So, the real issue Americans have is not necessarily with the quality or quantity of the medical care, it is with the personal, direct, out-of-pocket cost. They want the best care in the world, but they don't want to invest in good lifestyles or pay for it themselves.
So, we will trade-off
an abundance of good, available medical care for an illusion of security so that we can keep our wide screen
TVs, our cell phones, our expensive cars, our boats, and the other toys of our luxurious
lifestyles. There are dangerous things in this bill and we can't just listen to the media and the politicians. For example, it is now being reveled that it will be illegal to have private medical insurance
Oh sure, they say that you can still have private insurance. But the text appears to be only allow people who are already insured to keep that insurance. Nobody else would ever be allowed to get a new policy.
Who gets to make the decisions about what medical care you receive? Right now its you and your doctor and your insurance company. If you want to pay with cash, it can be you and your doctor. The most an insurance company can do is say, "We won't pay for that procedure." but they can't prevent you from paying for it. The government can.
Sure, doctors make mistakes. Insurance companies screw up and take advantage of people. Universal health care will not fix these mistakes. People are people and they will make mistakes. But, you can always sue them. When the bureaucrat makes a mistake, can you sue the government? What are the chances of you winning when you have to go before a judge (a government employee) to testify against the government?
Have you seen the bureaucracy you will have to navigate if you have a problem should the House of Rep pass the current "health care" plan? Its a nightmare. And you thought dealing with government workers down at the DMV was bad.
In all that mess, who will be making the choices of what care you get? If we have learned one thing it is that the "party of choice" doesn't really want you to make your decisions. They want to tell you what to eat, what to drink, which doctor to see, which treatments
you can take, what you can smoke and not smoke, which drugs you may take, which schools you must send your kids to. As long as you choose what they deem as wise, you have freedom to choose. Do you really think they are going to let you have choice when it comes to your medical care?
To be honest, I feel a bit despondent about the who issue. I feel powerless. I did my part and voted and lost. This is what people think they want. I just hate that I have to suffer because of their poor choices. With a solid majority in the House, a filibuster-proof Senate, and rhetoric-filled, substantive-less President, we will have "Universal Health care."
Just remember, when it came time for the Good Samaritan to "love his neighbor as himself" he lovingly and voluntarily reached into his own pocketbook and paid for the medical care of the beaten Jew. He didn't use the power of his vote to force someone else to pay for it. Its not charity if it is comes from taxes. He was his "brother's keeper."