Having an honest debate about health care. With myself.

Here I am again, after another week of absorbing information in the midst of the ongoing health care debate. I’ve listened to a very informative interview with T.R. Reid, the author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. In a nutshell he talks about his travels to other leading industrial nations to learn about how they handle their health care. Give it a listen.

What I’m trying to do is come to a common ground with myself about what my unified opinion should be on this issue. I doubt I’m going to hammer it all out tonight, but I’m going to attempt to get closer. I’ve been sharing opinions for months now with those who also enjoy an intelligent conversation, and it was this evening when I realized that I’m already beginning to contradict opinions I had at the outset. In particular I can still remember saying that we don’t need government run health care, that it will only be paid for by higher taxes down the road, and that the Social Security System (paid for in the same way) is headed for complete ruin – why would we want to set ourselves up for that? Now my opinion has shifted, and this evening I found myself making a case for government run health insurance. It would seem to make me a bit of a hypocrite, eh?

At face value, perhaps. But that’s the problem with this whole debate. Everyone is making judgements based on what’s right in front of them, on sound bites and catch phrases and scare tactics and dumbed down, distilled concepts. Very few people are bothering to discover the root of what they’re forming opinions on, and to a degree I am one of them. It’s analogous to making a decision based on what the last person in a game of Telephone told you, and not on what the first person actually said. My opinions now seem to contradict my beliefs. Well… “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” (Any student of Jim Duquette wanna claim recognition of that one?)

I am willing to admit that I don’t have all the information, and that as a result I have come to contradictory conclusions. I am willing to admit that I have prejudices and pre-conceived notions that color my judgement. I am trying not to immediately accept ideas just because they are Democrat/Liberal based, or to wholly reject ideas just because they are Republican/Conservative based. Fox News is doing enough of that for all of us. 

I was against government run health insurance. The reason was that I didn’t agree with the assurances that it would increase competition. Private insurance companies can’t raise taxes or print money. The government can. That’s a fundamental inequality from the beginning. I also brought up that the government run Social Security system is failing, and hence we shouldn’t trust the same government with the health insurance system. Okay, fine. But so what? I’m doing what all those who are yelling hard against ANY change want us to do – arguing detains that are in no way central to the important issue at hand: how do we go about providing affordable health care for everyone? 

Here’s where I am now, and I think that it’s a place from which I can start to construct the larger set of positions I have on this whole health care issue. So, I believe that it should not be legal to make a profit on providing insurance for preventative or life sustaining health care. I am talking about health care that keeps you healthy or returns you to health. I am not talking about vanity or cosmetic medicine (physical augmentation surgery, botox, tattoo removal, etc). I believe that profiting off of the suffering of others is morally reprehensible, and as a citizen of the 21st goddam century I’d like to think that more people could get behind that idea. 

I want to say that I believe that the government should be obligated to provide it’s citizens with basic cradle to grave heath care (in return for the taxes we pay), that no citizen should die for lack of the ability to pay for needed health services. I’m not sure that that belief isn’t flawed, though.  I’m not saying that I think that it’s necessary for the government to actually own and operate the entire system, but they seem as good a candidate as any to at least administrate an entity who goal is non-profit. The current for-profit companies are making it quite clear they aren’t interested in that job, which is borderline insane considering that those who will benefit from such a change FAR outnumber those who cease to benefit from the current model.

Sleep now. More later. Stay with me.


2 responses to “Having an honest debate about health care. With myself.

  1. Here in Australia we have a government health care system called Medicare. While I won’t pretend to know all the ins & outs of it, in my experience it’s been pretty good. We also have private health insurance, as waiting lists for non-emergency operations etc. can be quite lengthy (and that includes pretty much everything that’s not immediately life-threatening). The govt provides a subsidy for private health insurance premiums, and a penalty (through the tax system) for those who earn over a certain level who opt NOT to take out private health insurance after the age of 30. It was cheaper (free!) for me to have a baby in a public hospital, through a midwifery program with home visits etc., than in a private hospital where Medicare pays a certain percentage of the OB, anaesthetist, and hospital fees, private health insurance pays a proportion of the hospital accommodation, & we still had a gap fee to pay to each of them, which added up to a couple of thousand dollars. As it turned out, with two emergency caesarean sections, I had a private room in both the public & private hospitals, although I was able to stay a few days longer in the private hospital (had some complications with the surgery). If I was to have another baby, I’d go public as first choice.

  2. Patrick-

    After my visit to Paris and speaking with people from all over (Columbia, Italy, Germany, France, Spain), I am convinced that no system, privately or publicly run is perfect, nor will it ever be. The problem in the states is the greed. I don’t see the government being any less greedy if they become responsible for our health care ( let’s face it government is run by corporations and there’s no denying that fact). I would LOVE to see all people insured and hope that, if nothing else, we will provide for those that can’t afford it and have other options for those that can. Most people that I spoke to in France LOVED their health care until they were really sick with something outside of the common cold, broken limbs etc…You start talking cancer, upper respiratory problems of unknown origin, etc. and people said they left the country to seek help. The people who I spoke to that moved from the states to there HATED the system and those from there seemed more or less satisfied. They said that the waits to see your doc could and often were phenomenally long and you could waste entire days trying to be seen. What we need to do is take cues from them and adapt our current system, not hand the responsibility to the government, although I know the change will start with the government and YES we do pay taxes for these purposes, ultimately we need to demand that greed be squelched and have a careful system of checks and balances (ultimately I think this is what people refer to as UHC anyway). The biggest issue is personal responsibility people need to learn to trust nature, eat proper diets, move more, and get enough rest. There are changes that need to be made to our overall system to promote these. Longer breaks, more paid vacation or JUST vacations, better birthing options with midwives, alternative healthcare, preventative care (chiropractic, acupuncture, gym memberships), and less consumer brainwash through ads and millions spent to advertise directly to our children and us making them label junkies from infants on, subsidies for creative small, ethical businesses. Bonuses and incentives for businesses that function with reduced waste, solar power, etc…I could go on and on. I would love to see Universal Healthcare but I have little faith that it would be any better than our current system. No one should die unable to get help, no one should be turned away while we have such an abundance of resources and technology. Unfortunately, these things will happen EVEN if we use the alternatives to our current system. Steady and conscious change is what we need to see, but I’m with you…still unsure of how to get there?!

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