Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Health Care Crisis

I am deeply disturbed by what I'm hearing about people's behavior at the health care forums happening around the country. Fights? Shouting down officials? Police escorts? WTF, fellow citizens??

According to the New York Times, "Lawmakers of both parties agree on the need to rein in private insurance companies by banning underwriting practices that have prevented millions of Americans from obtaining affordable insurance. Insurers would, for example, have to accept all applicants and could not charge higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or current illness. All insurers would have to offer a minimum package of benefits, to be defined by the federal government, and nearly all Americans would be required to have insurance."

According to some Americans (who shall remain nameless, but include a former Alaska governor), the reform would mean mandatory euthanasia, the end of Medicare, and depriving people of health care.

Let's just all slow down, take a deep breath, and find the common ground. What do you think about all this? Here are some of my thoughts.
  • Our knowledge about health and medicine is quite good, even superior. We know that prevention is less expensive than treatment. We also sometimes know when treatment or intervention is more costly than its results. Why is this information not available to everyone?
  • A person has the right to be healthy (whether or not they squander that right, is an issue for another post).
  • The government already has its hands in health care for its citizens (Medicare is one example). Therefore, their involvement is a non-issue. Let's talk about the quality of their involvement.
  • The rising costs of health care, to individuals and to businesses, is burdensome to many.
  • The provision of medical care as a perquisite to employment makes health care a class issue rather than a quality of life issue.
  • HMOs are not equipped to continue providing services in the same way (ie., opening emergency rooms to all, including the uninsured; 15 minute appointments for the insured). Health care workers in the current system are overworked. Overworked workers lead to un-well workers. Who will take care of us when our doctors are sick?
  • There are other countries in the world whose governments sponsor health care for their people, and these countries are not full of evil commies (or maybe they are, that could be an issue for another post).
  • [This space open for other ideas which have not developed but are percolating as I consider different viewpoints.]

This is not an issue that can be solved immediately, but if we can make some changes, we can get on the road to better health. Give it a chance. And stop yelling at each other; you're raising my blood pressure.

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