Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Answers to Health Care Reform Critics

The other day, I was monitoring the Neal Boortz radio show and he was on yet another one of his rants against changing the American health care system.

Not only does he oppose a nationalized health insurance system, he also believes that the current private system should abolish coverage for routine, preventive care. He stated that he believed insurance should be reserved for major catastrophic illnesses only and that people should have to pay coimpletely out of their own pockets for routine care, regardless of income.

He used pregnancy and childbirth as an example of what should not be covered by insurance because, in his words, “People choose to have children”. He blithely asserted that if one could not afford to pay for such care, then they had no business having children at all, as they could not obviously handle the costs of raising such a child.

Never mind that one does not have to come up with the entire cost of raising a child to 18 all at once, as one would have to for pre-natal care and delivery.

And his elitist mind doesn’t seem to have thought things through all that carefully. After all, if only the affluent are to be allowed to reproduce, then who will be left to flip the burgers, drive the taxis, clean the houses, and so on? I can’t imagine he expects the scions of blueblooded families to have to stoop to such labor themselves!

Boortz, while ranting and raving about all the money it would cost to convert to a health care system like the rest of the civilized world has, also seems to conveniently forget that full access to routine and preventive health care, which is far more inexpensive than catastrophic health care, is the most effective way of reducing the need for the major medical care in the first place.

It also has the benefit of giving poor people a less expensive and time consuming alternative than having to use the emergency room for routine problems, thus allowing medical personnel to more efficiently serve those patients whom emergency care was originally designed for, which, again, would reduce costs.

Some Americans, who are fortunate enough to have good jobs which provide adequate health insurance, oppose changes to our health care system, fearing that such a change would reduce the quality of the care they receive.

While it is true that American health care is among the best in the world — provided that one can gain access to it — not all Americans have full access to it.

I was browsing Rubicon’s blog today, where he stated in a comment to another reader:

I have excellent health insurance, that includes dental, mental health, emergency room visits, and hospital stays. I can be referred to a specialist with no wait time, if I would need it I could have any procedure done immediately, and I can receive care by most any doctor and can go to any hospital, no wait, no muss, no fuss. Why in the world would I want that taken away from me??

I’m not as lucky as Rubicon — my job provides no health insurance at all and pays me so little than I cannot afford to buy my own. And I’m a worker, not a welfare recipient. In reponse to his last question, I would ask, “Why don’t you want all Americans, regardless of income, to have full access to that wonderful health care?”

He speaks of people having to wait for medical procedures under Canada’s health care system. Well, I’d much rather have to wait to get a needed procedure done, than not to be able to get the procedure at all.

What follows below is my reponse to his comments on his blog:

So far as the “wonderful” American health care system goes; yes, we have great health care here — if you have a good enough job, that is.

For those of us who don’t have good enough jobs, like me, those of us with no health insurance or inadequate health insurance, access to health care, especially the routine preventive care that can forestall major medical illnesses down the road, is extremely limited.

I have no health insurance and have not for nearly five years now, nor does my job provide any paid sick leave whatsoever. It’s easy to say “why don’t you get another job”, but the reality is quite different. My town was recently voted by Fortune magazine as being one of the “10 Worst Small Cities” in which to get a job. in other words, I’m lucky just to have a job at all right now. And people I know who have better jobs than me, who formerly had adequate health insurance, are now underinsured, with ther companies scaling back on the quality of insurance offered in order to save money.

As one without health insurance, nor the resources to buy my own, and also ineligible for Medicaid because I’m not on welfare nor have minor children living in my home, the situation is pretty grim. Health care for me is pretty much limited to praying that I don’t get sick. I can’t go to the doc for any sort of preventive health care and am pretty much limited to resorting to the emergency room for a dire emergency, the circumstances of which could have likely been avoided with the preventive health care I can’t afford.

Presently, I have a cataract in one eye and am effectively blind in that eye. I can’t afford the operation that would easily restore normal sight in that eye, nor could I afford to take unpaid time off from work to convalesce from such an operation even if I could find a doctor to donate his services. I can only pray the other eye doesn’t go as well.

And I think there’s something seriously wrong that in the richest nation on Earth, I have no access to a simple operation that would easily restore normal sight to that eye, simply because I don’t have a good enough job.

Unrestricted access to health care for everyone, from the lowliest prison inmate to the wealthiest philanthropist should be a given in any civilized society and no one should be denied full access because of a lack of money. It’s just that simple. If our society can find money to build the bombs, then it certainly can find the money to pay the doctors and hospitals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am from Canada and bewildered by the rampant misconceptions about our health care system, which by the way, is continually under assault by neo conservative interests who not only won't want to pay for other peoples medical expenses but believe that it is a good thing to profit from things like health services and prisons etc..

There may be wait times for corrective procedures but not for non-emergent or urgent procedures. This is an acceptable way to maintain cost effectiveness and most of us are happy that it will be attended to if not immediately then generally in a reasonable time frame. There are exceptions in any model, these are rare and there cause generally addressed and corrected. I need not point to my age but I recall the horror I felt as a young child in pre-universal healthcare Canada when on one occassion on a stroll with my mother I witnessed a traffic victim being attended by an ambulance attendant who was doing nothing to help him and was instead interviewing him about credit etc and when I asked my mother why he was just letting the man lay there she muttered "bloody red tape" and shuffled me along. Was I proud when we stepped up as a nation to provide for our vulnerable? You bet!