In the United States, one in every six citizens has no health insurance, and at least as many more have inadequate insurance, and don’t know it. The lack of adequate insurance closes doors to proper health care here. Many of those that have insurance only discover how inadequate it is, when they really need health care. That’s when they find out (from clerks with little or no medical training) about exclusionary clauses, unavailable treatment, pre-existing conditions, bankrupting deductibles and co-payments, and lifetime, annual, or incident limits. There is finally something we can do about this crippling and too-costly system.
If you’re one of 100 million Americans without adequate or any insurance, whether by choice or not, you are playing a cruel game of Russian roulette with stakes the likes of which you better hope and pray you never learn about the hard way. Most of us play that game during our lives, like it or not. Half the personal bankruptcies in the United States result from medical costs and emergencies. And many, many people suffer and die from not getting needed preventive health care and treatment in time, from inability or reluctance to pay deductibles and co-pays.
Regardless of how good you think your “coverage” is now, you confront the crisis when:
• An employer changes or eliminates benefits to cut costs and improve profitability or just by mistake, or because insurance is no longer offered; or an insurance company changes its policy or its list of acceptable doctors, clinics, or treatment options; or it decides not to provide insurance any longer; or cost of self-insurance becomes prohibitive.
• Marital status, age, health, or employment of you or a family member changes, and insurance coverage ends or changes as a result.
We all encounter the crisis, every day, as American business and industry down-sizes, out-sources, relocates, or ceases operations due to inability to compete with companies that do not have to shoulder the exorbitant costs of private health insurance that unfairly burden American business. This health care crisis is costing us jobs and commerce, as well as lives and health.
The four most outrageous health care myths we must overcome are:
Myth 1: “The United States has the best health care system in the world.”
Truth: We could have the best health care system in the world … if it weren’t for the way it is administered. If you (like any deposed, exiled dictator on good terms with the State Department) have unlimited wealth, or (like any member of Congress) are among the very small percentage who have an ironclad lifetime guarantee of no-strings-attached top-drawer insurance, you can get the finest health care here in the U.S. But for most all the rest of us, measured by all basic health care outcomes, from infant mortality rates to life expectancy, the United States has steadily fallen from number one in the world to the back of the pack of industrialized nations. The World Health Organization now ranks the U.S. health care system in 42nd place compared to all other countries.
Myth 2: “Universal comprehensive health care sounds like a nice idea, but where are we going to get the money to pay for it?”
Truth: We are already spending more money on health care in America than comprehensive health care for all would cost – but we are not getting it. The truth is that the United States now spends twice as much per capita on health care related costs as all other modern nations in the world spend, and these other nations provide comprehensive health care for all, with no gate-keepers and better outcomes, at much less cost.
Myth 3: “Universal single payer health care is socialized medicine, which would eliminate patient choice of physician and care options, and we wouldn’t get health care when we need it.”
Truth: First, there is not a single bill in the House or the Senate proposing socialized medicine. HR 676 and SB 703 propose socialized insurance with medical care provided by the current national network of privately employed doctors, clinics, and hospitals. It’s like the insurance provided by Medicare and by the Social Security system. Second, the United States does actually provide some socialized medicine already, and has done so for a very long time. It is the network of hospitals and clinics owned and operated by the government for the military and the Veterans Administration. Bethesda and Walter Reed Medical Centers are examples of actual “socialized medicine” in the United States. Our active duty and veterans of military service, of all ranks, and their families, use socialized medicine. Our President and Members of Congress, and their families, enjoy the excellent socialized health care provided by these government owned and operated facilities. Third, other modern nations provide comprehensive universal health care where people have full choice of physicians, and where treatment is determined by the medical condition. HR 676 and SB 703 do not propose socialized medicine. But even existing socialized medicine systems around the world provide patient choice of physician and care options. By contrast, in the current U.S. employer-based system, supervised by private insurance corporations, it’s not the patient and her doctor, it’s the employer and the insurance company who have the real choices.
Myth 4: “Everyone should have affordable health insurance.”
Truth: The truth is that everyone needs health care. Private health insurance is not health care. Only private insurance companies, their executives and major stockholders need health insurance.
A third of the dollars spent in the U.S. on “health care” do not actually provide health care. It is spent on “administration” – by, for, and because of the private insurance industry. This includes the costs of overlapping corporate bureaucracies, marketing, administration, many different policies, complex billing for each individual item for each patient, profit-taking, extravagant executive “compensation”, lobbying, and campaign “contributions”. Eliminating these unnecessary costs will reduce overall annual health care costs by 350 billion dollars. We can solve the health care crisis in America, provide comprehensive health care to everyone, produce better health care outcomes, and simultaneously reduce the overall cost of health care. Other nations have done it. We can’t afford to ignore the truth about Canada and the rest of the world, as well as the truth about how our own health care system is being administered.
According to free-market theory, the for-profit providers and the 1500 private health insurance plans in the U.S. were supposed to control costs. They clearly have not done so. Instead of restraining costs they are restricting care and increasing profits. And they are crippling U.S. business in a global marketplace, while running good work and jobs right out of the country. The Health Care Crisis in America continues to worsen, and the legislators that should represent us stand, instead, for the corporations, and against the health care America needs.
Single-payer comprehensive universal health care is the only way we can solve the health care crisis. And solving the health care crisis is essential to extricating us from the current drastic economic crisis caused by unbridled greed managed and facilitated by huge corporations and by government officials enthralled and beholden to them.
The trump card is in the hands of the American people, and we need to play it now.
Talk about it with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family. Take action.
Tell everyone that we need our elected legislators to sponsor H.R. 676 and S.B. 703 now.
Here are ten uncompromised, solid sources of useful, accurate information. Please contact them.
See how you can help. Do what you can – now – for your family and for your country.
http://www.healthcare-now.org/ “Health Care – Now!”
http://www.pnhp.org/ “Physicians for a National Health Program”
http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org/ “Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care”
http://www.freshaircleanpolitics.net “Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics“
http://www.singlepayeraction.org/ “Single Payer Action“
http://pdamerica.org/policy/priorities.php “Health Care not Warfare”
http://www.calnurses.org/media-center/press-releases/2009/april/america-s-rn-union-targets-congressional-healthcare-leaders-in-new-ad-drive.html “National Nurses Organizing Committee”
http://unionsforsinglepayerhr676.org/ “Unions for Single-Payer Healthcare”
http://www.businesscoalition.net/ “Business Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare”
http://clydewinter.wordpress.com/category/health-care-crisis/ examining the health care crisis
“This ongoing experience of startling significant inequities in our society, particularly brought to my attention in the field of health care, but also evident in education, employment, criminal justice, finance, and other areas, has revealed to me a society and its leaders pathologically unable to face their responsibilities and take effective action, and who instead persistently seek to deny responsibility, hide problems, and blame the victim.” – Glenn Winter, M.D. “Caring for the Uninsured and Underinsured – A Communication from the Front Lines”