Thursday, July 30, 2009
Health Care: Who needs it?
I received the following email from Rob-Bear and wanted to share with you. Thank you Rob-Bear for taking the time to share with us. Lakeviewer
Lorna at *Southern California Woman* (conservative Republican that she is) has posted an item on health care reform: http://lornacheyenne.blogspot.com/2009/07/health-care-reform-why-do-we-need.html.
You might want to take a look at that video, and my extensive response (which I'll also include below as well).
Feel free to share my ideas. (Yeah, I know; damn these medical ethicists and their inconvenient truths.)
Lorna, you've given people a very interesting video, which raises a number of key questions.
1. The video makes a mistake at the beginning by saying there are no simple answers to the question "Why health care reform?" Because it answers its own question, which seems peculiar. The answer: there are 46 million Americans without health insurance. And lots of them (and others) die, because they cannot afford health care. That's the answer, and it is SIMPLE.
It is important to remember that the inability to pay medical bills is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy (by a wide margin) in the United States. One major illness, and you lose everything -- everything you've worked for over your lifetime. That's why ordinary Canadians demanded, and got, universal, single-payer health care insurance.
Because without that kind of insurance, the costs of treatment are beyond what most people can afford. And health care insurance, at $1,000 a month, is beyond what many people can afford.
Cost also means that many people, because they cannot afford care, put off seeing doctors. Often they wait so long that, by time they get to seeing a doctor, a small cancer has become untreatable, and they die. The video recognizes that, and I have already noted that.
It is also important to remember that a lot of your health care premium money goes into corporate profits and lobbying (i.e., buying) politicians. That is money not spent on caring for people.
But as long as the "profit motive" rules health care in the US, there will be no change. If health care companies were to become "non-profit," that might change.
2. Indeed, the video is right when it says (basically) that when all of us pay into the system, that allows costs to be spread out. We figured that out in Canada about 60 years ago. That's why we have a single-payer system, to which everyone contributes.
3. Technology can make the system better. But technology is very expensive. And technology companies (including those who make drugs) basically "hold people hostage" with high costs until someone with a lot of money comes along. Like, say, government.
And while electronic medical records are effective, and provide cost savings, they are also vulnerable to unauthorized access ("hackers"). Do you want your health care history made public?
4. I was surprised by the statement that 70 per cent of diseases are preventable. I'm wondering about the use of the word "preventable."
One of the major problems North Americans are facing is the rise in childhood asthma, mostly among children growing up in smog-filled cities. Is that preventable. Yes, if you take all the cars of the streets. Will that fly? Like a lead balloon. Which raises the question about what is actually "preventable." But I agree with the theory.
In Canada, doctors are reimbursed by medicare for lifestyle-improving patient counseling. I don't know what happens in the US.
This is not an easy situation. There are powerful vested interests which believe that profits are more important than peoples' health.
I wish my American friends (all Americans, really) well in trying to sort out the mess.