There are 5 prevalent myths we need to overcome, and 3 basic principles on which we can agree, in order to stand solidly on the high ground while defending our health care rights. It’s now up to you and me. No one else will do it for us. We owe it to our family, our country, and ourselves. (My other articles present more information concerning myths, the principles, and the prescription for health care. The devastating effect that the legalized bribery known as campaign “contributions” is having right now on the discovery and adoption of an effective solution to the health care crisis by “our” elected legislators is examined in this series of articles, and especially in this entertaining and easily read one.)
THREE PRINCIPLES to uphold in protecting and strengthening your health care:
(1) The quality and security of your family’s health care is threatened and compromised because health insurance corporations administer the U.S.A. health care system. The people and technology providing America’s health care are among the very best in the world. Your family may need that quality and proficiency at any time. In order for you to have the health care you need, when you need it, the health care system needs to be efficiently and properly managed and administered. But the health insurance industry has had that responsibility for generations, and has been badly and increasingly failing in their responsibility. That’s because they have no responsibility or accountability to the people or to the health and well-being of the nation. They only have a responsibility to generate profits for themselves.
As far as running a good health care system, the insurance corporations have failed by driving total health care costs through the roof, while falling far behind other modern nations in terms of health care outcomes. Our per-capita health care costs are double what three-dozen countries are paying which have health care outcomes that are now better than in the United States. The insurance corporations have failed by arbitrarily denying patient choice and critically needed health care, causing needless suffering, personal bankruptcy, and death. They have failed while reaping exorbitant profits. We cannot allow health insurance corporations to continue to administer health care to the increasing detriment of families and our country.
We must have a rational health care administration that is answerable only to the people and to the doctors and nurses. We must have an administration which will allow every family to choose and retain their own health care provider, and will allow the provider to freely recommend and provide the health care that is medically indicated and appropriate for you and your family. That is not what we have today.
Currently, employers get to select what policy (if any) they will make available, and to provide information about you and your family to the insurance corporation and their “affiliates”. The insurance company gets to impose loopholes and conditions on your policy, with profit-taking fine-print restrictions like “preferred or in-plan provider” and “excluded treatment options” and “pre-existing condition” and “annual, lifetime, or incident limits” and “pre-approval required” and “co-pays and deductibles”. And, of course, your employer or the insurance company can change their relationship with you or each other pretty much at will. These conditions limit and block what should be your family’s health care choice and security. These employer and insurance industry prerogatives must be eliminated for your family to be assured of getting the health care it needs, and of not being driven to the poorhouse by them. Responsible, ethical health care providers must no longer be forced to consult the fine print of a particular insurance policy, or a corporate gatekeeper without medical training, responsibility, or accountability, before deciding what health care to provide your family.
(2) You (and all families) need comprehensive health care throughout life, but you don’t need health insurance to provide it. We shouldn’t have to (and frankly, we can’t) choose one of some 1500 different insurance policies offered now, with all the fine print and complicated clauses. We just need to be able to choose our professional health care providers, and (with the help of these providers) our treatment plan, (without interference from health care system administrators). We need “comprehensive health care guaranteed for all”, administered for the people, and for the doctors and other professionals who provide it with integrity.
(3) Your family has a basic right to comprehensive quality health care. That right can no longer be subject to the business decisions of your employer, the fine print in a complicated insurance contract, or the efforts of corporations to improve their bottom line that jeopardizes your family’s health. Recognizing your basic right “promotes the general welfare”, as our nation’s founding fathers defined the sacred responsibility of the government they fashioned.
Not only is it morally and ethically “the right thing to do”, it is the practical and wise “right thing to do”. One of every three health care dollars is now wasted in the United States because of the unnecessary cost of running a multitude of bureaucracies administering a health care system that is empowered to decide what health care you and your family “deserves”, as determined by your employer, the insurance policy fine print, what assets you have left, and the fickle finger of fate. It is much less costly, and far more effective, to have a health care system that simply provides the comprehensive health care you and your family actually needs.
The FIVE HEALTH CARE MYTHS blocking your families right to comprehensive health care security:
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 only it weren’t for the way it is administered. If you have unlimited wealth, or are among the very small percentage who have an ironclad lifetime guarantee of no-strings-attached top-drawer insurance, as many politicians have, you can get the finest health care here in the U.S. But for the rest of us, the United States has steadily fallen from the best in the world to the back of the pack of industrialized nations. The World Health Organization once ranked the USA at the top. But we are now ranked behind more than three dozen other countries around the world in objectively measured health care outcomes. That means that your family, any American family, is more likely to experience unfortunate outcomes.
Myth 2: “Guaranteed comprehensive health care for all 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. 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 – countries that all provide guaranteed comprehensive health care for all, with better health care outcomes. We don’t have to spend more, we have to waste less.
Myth 3: “Universal health care is socialized medicine, which eliminates patient choice of physician and care options, and would prevent us from getting health care when we need it. We don’t have to scrap the whole health care system to fix a few problems.”
Truth: First, not a single bill in the House or the Senate proposes socialized medicine. HR 676 and S 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.
Item, the United States does already provide some actual socialized medicine. Military hospitals and clinics, and the V.A. Medical Centers are owned and operated by the government, supported by taxes, and staffed by government employees. Bethesda Medical Center is an example of long existing “socialized medicine” in the United States. Bethesda provides perhaps the best, most cost effective health care and medical research available anywhere in the world. Our Presidents and Senators and their families enjoy the “socialized medicine” provided by Bethesda Medical Center. Tell me, why is that not good enough for us?
Item, HR 676 and S 703 do not propose socialized medicine. But even existing socialized medicine systems, and comprehensive national health programs around the world, as well as HR 676 and S 703, provide full 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. The arbitrary rationing that is imposed by insurance corporations, and which is based on increasing profits, harms way more patients than are harmed by necessary triage that is based on purely medical assessment of treatment urgency by doctors.
Item, HR 676 and S 703 would change only the administration of the system, while leaving the health care itself, including the doctors and nurses, the clinics, the hospitals, the medical schools, the labs, all unchanged. Nobody is proposing scrapping the whole health care system and starting over. HR 676 and S 703 both propose to keep your health care system intact, while replacing the administration by insurance corporations, which has utterly failed in its responsibility to the people, with an expanded Medicare administration that is responsible and accountable to the people.
Myth 4: “Everyone needs to have access to affordable health insurance.”
Truth: The truth is that “everyone needs health care”. But health insurance is not health care.
Only private insurance corporations, their top executives, major stockholders, and the government officials and major party strategists they have in their pocket, need health insurance.
Myth 5: “Government isn’t the solution to our problem. Government IS the problem.”
Truth: This is more than just a myth that should have died when it was born. This is a despicable and discouraging lie that slanders the principles that justified our American Revolution and form the bedrock of our democratic republic and our carefully fashioned and honed constitutional government, which is still a work in progress. This infamous cynical philosophy disparages the sacrifices and lives lost by every generation of Americans who worked and fought, were wounded and died in combat, to establish, defend, and strengthen the United States of America.
For what do soldiers, sailors, marines, and men and women of the air force and coast guard fight and die, if not for their government? What is the United States of America if not the government, and what is the government if not the people? Government is not “the problem” because government in America is the people. Or it damn well should be. When government is not working right and not serving the people, then we need to work together to fix it (like we need to fix ourselves, at times).
Fixing government does not mean “shrinking it down to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub”, as a nutcase political consultant once proclaimed more than a generation ago. When you or your family makes a mistake or needs fixing, do you fix it by forever berating the family that made it, and weakening your family as much as possible? Or do you try to heal and strengthen it? Government in America is designed to fairly represent the people, and to protect all our rights. But it should only represent living, breathing people – and corporations are not people. Each person possesses one vote, and each person has the Constitution, as well. That means we can fix our government. Government will never be perfect, but what else comes close? Corporations? Not hardly.
Corporations are mandated to serve their shareholder interests only, and those interests are determined not on the basis of “one person – one vote”, but on the basis of so many dollars per vote. Corporations didn’t give the people our “bill of rights”. Corporations don’t die in wars – they thrive in wars. Corporations cannot and never will represent the people, nor concern themselves with the health and well-being of our families. Fixing government means continuing struggle to ensure that we have a government that is of, by, and for the people, all the people, and nothing but the people.
A U.S. government like that would be, by far, the best, most accountable, most responsible and responsive administrator of America’s health care system. That doesn’t mean it would interfere with your doctor or your health care. The administrator has no business interfering at all with the relationship between the provider and the receiver of comprehensive health care services. Even with the current state of corruption, our government would be far superior to the myriad insurance corporations which are merely targeting ever higher profits, without a care for the health of American families, without a care about the overall cost of the system, the impact of their failed management on the rest of the economy, or the personal tragedies left in their wake. Our government already does a far better and more efficient job administering the U.S. military medical service and what’s left of Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration medical service, than the insurance corporations do administering the part of the health care system that they currently control, and which has almost all of us playing lifelong health care Russian roulette with them.
We can and should gladly and gratefully stick with the fine doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals that currently provide health care in America. We can easily continue with the current hospitals and clinics and other private providers of health care. But if we honestly and clearly discuss the intractable problems causing our growing health care crisis, we cannot possibly endorse a reform that retains insurance industry corporations as administrators and managers of our health care. It is irrational, costly, and tragic to have private, for-profit insurance corporations, and private employers, administering our health care. It is as simple as that. No other modern country in the world today does it that way, and they all have much lower costs and better health care outcomes, with guaranteed comprehensive health care for all. Besides that, businesses employing their citizens are more competitive in the international market. And families in those countries do not suffer bankruptcies as a consequence of medical expenses.
We need HR 676 or S 703 – the single-payer solution to the health care crisis. We need to end the cruel game of Russian roulette, with worsening and tragic outcomes, that has emerged with the mismanagement and consistently poor administration of the health care our families need by health insurance corporations. And to do that, we need to also end the stranglehold that corporations and the lobbyists have right now on our elected government officials and on our families health care. Where, when, and how do we start? We start by talking about health care security with our friends, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, and about how to get our families health care security and our government in our own hands, for a change.
Here are ten solid sources of useful, accurate information. Please contact them.
Learn and 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://www.wisdc.org/blog/2009/06/113-million-reasons-why-not.html Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
http://moneyedpoliticians.net/ Ending legalized bribery