A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

25 July 2009

The Healthcare "Debate"?

Let me declare my biases:
  • I'm Canadian

  • I was born to parents whose own parents didn't have "socialized health care" and who regarded it as one of the finest achievements of civilization

  • The Canadian health care system helped, at the very least, to save my life on at least one occasion.

  • So I'm mad when I see the system so mischaracterized by the forces who want to continue screwing US citizens out of their money. Because that's what private-for-profit health "care" does: It rations health care. The very thing it accuses "government-run" or "bureaucratic" or "socialized" health care of.

    Because economics is all about scarcity. The scarcer something is, the higher a premiuim it may command on the open market. Healthy people just aren't good "health consumers."

    It is reckoned that the US pirate-for-profit system costs several billion dollars in lost productivity each year, not counting the $46 bn in direct costs. Yet there are outfits out there who are frantically trying to avoid the Obama health care debate by going to their "consumers" and trying to defend their (the consumers') right to go bankrupt for cancer treatment, their right to pay premiums and have coverage denied anyway, and their right to go entirely without any form of health care. And, purely co-incidentally I'm sure, these organizations end up defending their right to profit off the sick and healthy alike, through fear.

    The US system simply doesn't make sense in a civilized world. Of course, a civilized world would have to be one in which profit might occasionally have to take a back seat to charity, mercy, forbearance. Which doesn't suit insurance companies at all. After all, it takes an especially twisty kind of thinking to take the wrong end of a bet on whether or not you will die, and still make money on the deal.

    The Calgary Herald has today an excellent, simple editorial outlining the fractured thinking going on behind the drive to preserve health as something people who produce nothing and contribute nothing good to the economy should continue making a profit on (I'm speaking specifically of HMOs. Insurance itself is useful, and a vital financial instrument that has to be in place for any kind of market-based economy to thrive).

    Oh, and to any US Avid Fans: If you hear anything from a Doctor Brian Day, ignore it. He's a rotten lousy shill for the health insurance industry. Because up here in "Marxist" Canada, where "rationed" healthcare dictates who gets what, we allow people to see private quacks out of their own pockets if they like. And we allow said quacks to set up clinics so that they can go about the business of gouging money out of the healthy.

    In Canada, doctors are in private practice. But the patient is shielded from predation by drug companies, "health management" companies, and doctors who're so terrified of liability that they send you for unnecessary tests.

    The US can't do it like Canada, exactly. There are too many entrenched interests, too long a history, and possibly too decentralized a government (Although we've steadily been devolving responsibility to the provinces--and it's been a bit of a disaster).

    Now, no system will ever cover everything (there's that scarcity again). But it seems to me that while government provided systems usually have to justify refusing care, all an insurance company has to say is "Sorry--we don't cover that." It's on record: Companies have routinely sent "deny-first" letters to clients hoping they'll simply give up and go away.

    But the US has a chance to step out and show the world. Perhaps a blended private-public system like many of the Scandanavian countries would do it?

    Like the old commercials say: "Two flavour great--No debate!"

    In any case, if they really want an easy way to jump-start the economy, the first thing to do is to get everyone some form of basic health coverage.

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    At 4:07 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

    Mon Ami, Monsieur Metro

    C'est très, très interessant

    But forgive me if I crave some space pur thinker about le vestre Poste le très interessant

    Le Vestre Servant obedient etc

    L'Aigle Gris

    wv TORDINE

    Are zee Italians taking over your WV

    At 12:03 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My boyfriend has no health care, and may have a serious heart condition. We don't know, because the free clinic he goes to didn't even do a cheap EKG. His father had early heart disease, a cousin of his, same age, recently died of it. His father lived 20 years after an "experimental" bypass back in the 70's. He may not live as long because he can't get what is now a commonplace procedure.

    I spent 30 years as a nurse. The US wastes a hell of a lot of healthcare dollars doing things like keeping the Terri Sciavos of the world alive, and not allowing 90 year olds to just die of old age. But then, they all have socialized medicine. Most of the Terri Sciavo's and all the old folks have Medicare and/or Medicaid. It's folks like my boyfriend, who wants to keep working, but can't afford insurance, that are dying. I'll take Canadian medicine any day.

    P.S. Now I'm disabled and on Medicare, too. Never had better care. People in the US are idiots if they don't think we'd all be better off with universal health care.


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