Leave Health Care Reform Alone, Or Better Yet, Bring On Socialized Medicine

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The issue of Healthcare in the United states is a topic that has becomes so heated, it has divided friendships, torn apart families and has been responsible for some rather illegal behavior amongst some otherwise law-abiding and intelligent people. My position is that the United States needs to adopt single-payer national healthcare, with the government being the single payer.  Yes, one of the core values of being a United States citizen is the ability to improve oneself through independent means, and that the “American Dream” should remain alive and well. I also reason that we should do our level best to take care of ourselves.

However, I also reason that health care is a basic, human right and not a privilege that should be regulated by virtue of the financial condition of any given individual. All human beings should have free and unfettered access to healthcare, regardless of pre-existing conditions, regardless of social status and regardless of econominc status – and that includes preventative care, vision and dental. Furthermore, I also reason that each and every person who draws wages has the social, moral and ethical responsibility to help pay for it.

That’s Socialism…!

Yeah, and what of it? When it comes to health care, I stand one-hundred percent in favor of Socialized Medicine in the form of National Healthcare. When I was earning a paycheck, I was fully willing to have my income taxes raised to help pay for it, because money is not more important than the health and welfare of my fellow citizens. My point of view on this subject is not based on an ideology or my stance against religion.

To be perfectly honest, I was not always in favor of national or socialized medicine. For many, many years I was against it for some of the same reasons that I hear today, and was able to justify it every time I walked into my doctor’s office and presented my insurance card, knowing that I would be getting some of the best healthcare that is available anywhere in the world. Then the shit hit the fan. Due to cutbacks where I was working, I found myself without insurance benefits and also without sufficient income to afford a private policy. Then I got sick. I am not talking sick as in not being able to go to work or school for a few days or so, either.

Something was going horribly wrong with body, particularly my nervous system, and in short order I found myself unable to integrate into society on a functional level, let alone hold down a job. Visits to the emergency room and the free clinics were inadequate for obvious reasons and I did not have anywhere near the money I needed to pay for the tens of thousands of dollars of tests that were required. I applied for disability, but it would be about five years and an Alice-In-Wonderland trip down the rabbit hole of the Social Security Administration before I even got any of the money that I had spent twenty-eight years investing in, and even then it would be an additional two-year wait to qualify for Medicare.

Life Comes At You Fast…

The time frame between my ability to support my family through gainful employment, living in a nice comfortable home, driving reliable cars, eating good food and even enjoying a couple of toys and where I ended up could have been used in one of those “Life comes at you fast” TV commercials.

Within six months our life savings were gone, and even after selling just about everything of value we owned, we still lost our house, had our car repossessed and had to rely on food stamps and the kindness of strangers to scrape by. Our children were young, so they qualified for Medicaid, which assured that they were able to see a doctor. In short, I found myself and my family in a situation that I had once thought was a choice. Like many we all read about, I thought poverty was the result of laziness, a lack of education and ambition and anyone who was poor pretty much deserved what they got. Talk about a wakeup call…

Interesting thing about being poor, sick and disabled is that you get to meet a lot of other poor, sick and disabled people. Through these relationships I had collected dozens of stories about other people who had been thrust, through no fault of their own, into abject poverty. I had no idea there were so many other people who had also lost homes, cars, jobs, savings and personal property to the voracious appetite of sickness.

Paging Dr. Obvious…

I came to realize rather quickly that the problem was not a nation full of lazy, unambitious people, but a systemic problem with our healthcare system. Having to navigate through the woefully inadequate system of free clinics, endless forms that had to be filled out and dealing with health care professionals who knew comparatively little about both health care and professionalism, it didn’t take long to understand that what could have been accomplished in very short order with a good health insurance plan, competent doctors, state of the art equipment and diagnostics took almost three years of sometimes unbearable conditions and cost us almost everything we had worked our whole lives to attain.

We did not go broke and end up destitute and nearly homeless because of poor investments in the stock market, or having made poor decisions in other areas of life. I had been in management for many, many years. I worked very long hours, kept impeccable attendance and had a stellar record that was reflected in my professional references and had a resume I was very proud of. No, I ended up in the poorhouse because I got sick and did not have access to adequate health care. Period. End of story.

What Have You Done For Me, Lately…?

While I do not reason that I will live to see a truly socialized healthcare system implemented in the United States, the Affordable Health Care Act has made impressive strides. But that law is now in danger of being repealed by zealots who would rather see their neighbor die a slow death than part with their precious coin. The advances that the Affordable Health Care Act have made so far include the elimination of lifetime coverage limits for over 100 million citizens and now more than 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Private insurers covering close to 174 million citizens must justify double-digit premium increases and insurers are now required to spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care. Over a third of a million small businesses received a tax credit in 2011 to help them pay for health insurance for an estimated 2 million workers.

Over fifty million now receive a free preventive services like cancer screenings. The age that a child can be covered on their parents plan has been raised to 26 and more than fifty thousand with pre-existing conditions have gained coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. As well, over three and a half million people received a 50% discount that translates to a savings of about $600.00 each on prescription drugs after hitting the Medicare donut hole in 2011. More than 32.5 million seniors received one or more free preventive services. and for those of us on Medicare, we will save about four grand over the next ten years. Those of us who rely on extremely costly medications will save about four times that much, or about $16,000.

Repealing the AHCA will have resounding detrimental implications, including health insurance companies going right back to denying care for those with pre-existing conditions. According to ThinkProgress, health care insurers would deny coverage for pre-existing conditions if the AHCA is repealed,

“Health-insurance officials say that if the mandate is repealed, ‘their first priority would be persuading members of Congress to repeal two of the law’s major insurance changes: a requirement to cover everyone regardless of his or her medical history, and limits on how much insurers can vary premiums based on age.’ Their next step would be to ‘set rewards for people who purchase insurance voluntarily and sanction those who don’t.'”

A Pandemic…

The sad thing is that there are many people who have had it worse than I did, and ended up in tragically worse situations. My story is not unique, nor the worst that many of you are aware of or have even experienced yourself. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people in this country have died over the past decade alone for the simple reason that they did not have enough money in the bank. This doesn’t even address those adults who have recovered from their illnesses or have gone into remission that were denied coverage due to having a “pre-existing condition.”  It would do you well to understand that Insurance companies write their own rules as to what consists of a pre-existing condition. Good luck if you had an illness that is multi-symptomatic.

It has been said by many wise people in varying degrees that a society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members. Those in our society who look upon the poor, sick and disabled not as human beings, but little more than an unwanted financial drain who are nothing but lazy, freeloaders who choose not to pay for their healthcare should be ashamed of themselves. Those who look upon the taxes needed to pay for universal, single-payer healthcare as “being robbed by the government” fail to understand how utterly immoral, unethical and selfish it is to believe that profit is more important than the health and welfare of their fellow human being. There are some things in life that require shared resources

Final Thoughts On Medicare & Social Security…

To those who approach me and to tell me I should “shut up” because I now get a Social Security Disability check and have free healthcare, please allow me to enlighten you. Social Security is an extremely fixed income and it is not an entitlement, it’s a benefit. Most of us who draw social security have paid into the system for many, many years and are now drawing income from our Social Security accounts. And it is a paltry amount. If you knew how much money I received each month you’d shit yourself and wonder how the hell anyone can afford to live on it. Many people would be surprised at the things one can learn to live without and be flabbergasted to know how many times a decision between buying groceries or paying for medicine comes across our tables.

As well, Medicare is not “free healthcare.” I pay more in monthly premiums for myself than what I used to pay for my entire family when I had a company-subsidized plan. As well, I have deductibles, co-pays and Medicare does not cover vision or dental. We have to buy our glasses, get eye exams and get our teeth fixed usually out-of-pocket, or invest in a pair of pliers and some string.

Free, my ass…

  29 comments for “Leave Health Care Reform Alone, Or Better Yet, Bring On Socialized Medicine

  1. March 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve long been horrified by the US healthcare system, and very glad I’m not American. But what shocks me is the strength of the opposition to doing anything about it. I mean, on an intellectual level I understand the economic and political factors that are at play; but the visceral hatred that emerged when Obama introduced his reforms just escapes me.

    • Susan
      March 31, 2012 at 9:34 am

      I’m with you, in all the articles and pieces that I’ve read the one thing that defies explanation is the implacable opposition the idea of universal healthcare system seems to provoke.

  2. ash
    March 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Hear! hear!

    I think a version of the hippocratic oath that should be implimented is: If we have the ability to cure and alleviate suffering, we have the responsibility to do so.

  3. ILA
    March 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I think it’s funny how in America some people will point to Europe when health care is discussed and say ” We certainly don’t want the European system”.
    Here in Europe it’s the other way around. Whenever someone suggests that we privatize a part of the health care system people will go “No, no, no we don’t want to become like the US”.
    Good health care ought to be a human right IMO.

  4. wilsim
    March 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    “the Affordable Health Care Act has made impressive strides. But that law is now in danger of being repealed by zealots who would rather see their neighbor die a slow death than part with their precious coin”

    Agree completely. The extreme selfishness of these types of people pisses me off. How is having slightly more money in your pocket, 401k, bank account, or whatever, more important than someone else’s life????? I will never understand their position as anything other than “mine! Mine! MINE!” Ugh

  5. Norman Lycan
    March 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Mr. Steffani,

    There is a reality here. The homeless get better health care than the middle class, but at the expense of the middle class.

    If you are indigent, you go to an emergency room, your medical cost is paid in full by Medicaid. If you are middle class, and you need a mole biopsied, and you have a $2500 deductable, you pay for it out of your retirement. While this is a step in the right direction, if your mole is melanoma, and your max is $80,000, you are still bankrupt as they saw off pieces of your body to give you a few extra hours.

    You quoted the preamble:

    “promote the general Welfare”

    I hope the supreme court, the same that invented the Super Pacs, does not decide that general means rich people. But, nothing would surprise me anymore.

    NL

    • SAWells
      March 30, 2012 at 7:31 am

      @5: emergency rooms don’t and can’t provide health care. They provide emergency treatment. An emergency room can revive someone who’s collapsed in a diabetic coma; health care is getting them on regular insulin. An emergency room can revive someone who’s had a cardiac arrest; health care is managing and treating their heart condition long-term. Saying that “the homeless get better health care than the middle class” is dangerously wrong.

      • Norman Lycan
        March 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

        SAW said:

        “Saying that “the homeless get better health care than the middle class” is dangerously wrong.”

        Well, consider this, if a homeless person goes into an emergency room with a complication due to AIDS. Federal law requires them to be treated until they can return to living on the street. A middle class person whose savings is ten thousand dollars, and a suspicious mole appears on their skin. Their deductible on their insurance is $2500 dollars a year. Will they spend a quarter of their savings to find out if it is melanoma? Or will they just hope for the best? I suppose some would and some wouldn’t, but, the real bottom line is that poor people are dying young because they can’t afford health care, even IF they have insurance. I fail to see the “danger” in my observation, but, I’m open minded, so set me straight.

        NL

        • Dalillama
          March 31, 2012 at 3:30 am

          Because if you’re homeless, having that mole checked out isn’t even an option, and when it turns out to be cancer there’s nothing that the ER can do about it. Is that clear enough?

          • Dave The Sandman
            March 31, 2012 at 6:28 am

            Oh boy….where to begin? Thankyou Norman for revealing your true colours…a selfish little tea bagger sub human shit.

            So a middle class persons life is worth more than some poor shmo who has fallen through the US’s hole filled tissue thin social safety net? Echos of George Bernard Shaw’s infamous 1931 speech echo around the room to an aghast audience….

            There you sit in hale health decreeing that one life is worth more than another, yet on the other side speaks a doctor who had to turn one such “indigent” away to die in pain uncared for: http://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/cancer-v-the-constitution/

            Normally its just your stupidity and lies that disgust me, your mask wearing dishonesty and woo woo Chopra idiocy….

  6. janiceintoronto
    March 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

    The American health care system is simply inhumane. There’s no other word for it. Seems like the ‘every man for himself’ trope is alive and well there.

    I feel sorry for you guys. It’s just sad.

  7. April Eisenman
    March 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    This is a great article and I reshared it on my Facebook page. It really made me stop and think and look at this from a different perspective. Thank you!

  8. Martin, heading for geezerhood
    March 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    BTW Single payer is not socialism. Socialist medicine is when health care workers are government employees and health care facilities are government owned and run.

  9. Boz Haug
    March 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    A well-written argument, Al. I’m sorry you went through the hell that you did.

    A once-Republican friend of mine (he is an Independent now, having cast himself adrift due to the whackjobs who have hijacked his party) pointed out that single-payer health care for all was fiscally responsible. People who have to rely on the ER for rescue care are costing the system truckloads of money, as emergency medicine is ruinously expensive. He tried explaining this to some of his GOP buddies, and has made himself a pariah. That’s how far the ideology goes … it transcends reason.

  10. Dave The Sandman
    March 31, 2012 at 6:48 am

    The healthcare debate is only one part of a whole looped system that strkes towards national productivity and societal success. You have tried the “fuck you jack Im OK” system for over 200 years. Its result? The US now lags way behind the rest of Western Europe in all social indicators.

    I wrote an article for Al’s guest blog on this very topic. You see back in 1944 one of your best presdents, FDR, in his State of the Union address proposed a Second Bill Of Rights, part of whch involved socialised healthcare. It was part of an overall package designed to prop up the working and middle classes, thus kickstarting a permanant solid foundation to national productivity and prosperity. As FDR died shortly after it went into the trash can in the USA, but was picked up and used by Europe. 60 years later….look at the results.

    You have tea baggers mostly on government supported healthcare systems waving placards and protesting against the very system that provides for them. You have Norman and his ilk arguing that “indigents” should be thrown out of hospitals in preference for middle class citizens who can pay for the overpriced services that only for profit healthcare provides. You have Al, a formerly long term taxpaying citizen reduced to the poorhouse and wheeling about in a clapped out chair because he cant afford proper support and care….and millions more just like him. And you whine like spoiled children when someone suggests putting cents on the tax rate to pay for socialised healthcare while several dollars of that same tax money are pissed up a wall on a massively over sized and expensive, unneccesary military. We The People has now become We The 1%….

    This healthcare nonsense has to stop. If the SCOTUS rules that ACA is unconstitutonal I suggest then that it has worked against the people it is meant to protect…and its time to get out the firebrands and pitchforks. Sack the lot of them.

    its your country … time to take it back.

    • Norman Lycan
      March 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Dave the Sandman said this about me:

      “Norman for revealing your true colours…a selfish little tea bagger sub human shit.”

      Wow, that was a very logical narrative, and his point was supremely NOTHING!!!! Typical.

      Actually, you totally missed my point, I think deliberately, because you did not want to confront my real point. That anyone in a civilized society should not have to trade their retirement funds in order to live long enough to spend them. The term in the constitution is “common welfare”.

      The supreme court is now deciding if the United States will join the rest of the western world in putting this matter to rest, that everyone has the right to health care, regardless of the circumstances, or will we remain under the cloud of big money interests where you stay alive if you can pay to stay alive.

      Myself, I know I’m going to die, and I will not buy a third Ferrari for my doctor to keep me alive for a few more minutes.

      If the doctors say I am going to die, my reply would be, “I paid you how much to tell something I’ve always known?”

      Anyway, Sandman, you are an irresponsible, caustic, intolerent asshole, but it’s not your fault. It’s the atheist thing. You can seek treatment, but bring your credit card, it’s not covered by your insurance.

      NL

  11. Sarahface
    March 31, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I think it’s funny how in America some people will point to Europe when health care is discussed and say ” We certainly don’t want the European system”.
    Here in Europe it’s the other way around. Whenever someone suggests that we privatize a part of the health care system people will go “No, no, no we don’t want to become like the US”.

    This. This is why we in the UK are so disgusted by Andrew Lansley’s attempts to privatise the NHS, because we fear a system where if you can’t pay, you can’t get treated.
    That so many people fail to see how selfish and unethical it is to let people die simply because they don’t have enough money never fails to shock me.

    • Norman Lycan
      March 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you for a new perspective from an objective observer.

      NL

  12. Kelly
    March 31, 2012 at 11:44 am

    One of my co-workers has cancer (he doesn’t seem to be doing very well). His doctors have told him that he must not work. He doesn’t have a choice–he has to work or he loses his job and the health insurance through his employment. He needs money for regular living expenses. What is he supposed to do?

    Employment dependent insurance is awful–the entire setup is terrible. If you get too sick to work, but you have to work regardless, how likely are you to recover from your ailment(s)? I’m all for making government the payer.

    • Norman Lycan
      March 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      We all want to keep improving our world. But, there are forces at odds with each other. Big money that want nothing more than to become bigger, and our human conscience that cares about those who have been left behind as the machine grinds. That’s capitalism. It doesn’t work because it was invented by humans, and humans are fucked up. But, every other form of government has failed as well, for the same reason. We are all groping in the darkness searching for a better way.

      I am not an affluent person, and as a person with cancer all over my family history, I suspect that I will die of being poor, and of cancer. I will bet you get my point. It’s too late, to neuter me, I’ve had five children with the same family history. I wish there was a god who could intervene, if I just prayed hard enough, but, my insurance doesn’t cover that. So, I guess, I’m hosed. I hear theories it doesn’t hurt after you’re dead. I subpoenaed the witness list, still waiting. 🙂

      NL

  13. smrnda
    April 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    A reason why so many Americans oppose ‘socialized’ medicine is that they know so little about what actually goes on in other nations, and with the ‘death panels’ business you have a lot of people who can’t be bothered to check into the actual facts of what the Affordable Health Care Act actually entails but will express an opinion (bolstered by professional media know-nothings) nonetheless.

    I’m always surprised when I hear from someone who finds some one horror story from the UK where somebody died because they didn’t get the care they needed from the National Health Services BUT the same person can fail to make the connection that plenty of people die of preventable health problems here, and probably quite a few more.

    There’s also the deal that if a government is managing health care and someone doesn’t get what they need and die, the government system is bad according to some people and should be done away with, but if so many more people are dying under a market-based system, then the system is okay. I kind of fail to see the logic there unless it’s a ‘give me libertarianism and chaos over any other system any day!’ kind of viewpoint. Few are so honest as to admit that.

    I am disabled and have several pre-existing health conditions, but I’m lucky to be such a highly skilled worker that I can get health care, though I worry about the prospect of long-term or permanent disability in my case.

  14. smrnda
    April 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I also doubt that this will benefit the poor at the expense of the middle class. That’s the basic bogeyman used by the wealthy to make the middle class thinks their allegiances are naturally upward instead of downwards.

    I mean, ‘middle class’ people in the US go broke from health expenses or lack medical insurance. ‘Middle class’ is largely a state of mind, and I’d consider it mostly a delusional one.

  15. April 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    It is my understanding that the American belief is that if God sends you a disease that you can’t afford to treat it’s because God intends you to die and therefore universal health care is defying the will of God.

    The take-home message of the film Avatar is that in a few centuries time the US will be able to send thousands of people and tens of thousands of tons of very expensive equipment to far-flung stars, but still won’t have unversal health care.

  16. Amber Million
    April 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    All healthcare should be socialized. It sad that in the United States of America you can’t get something as basic as health care. That’s just not ehtical.

    • Amber Million
      April 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Hospitals and doctors are in sales these days. They are selling you your LIFE.

  17. Amber Million
    April 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Unless you rich of course. I wonder how Chaney is recovering from his heart transplant.

  18. April 7, 2012 at 6:37 am

    What does one consider from the new blue cross well being insurance plan?

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  20. May 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

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