Friday, June 22, 2007

Sicko

As Michael More correctly notes in his new movie, the US Healthcare system is totally fucked. This is the richest country in the world and we have millions of citizens who are either uninsured or forced into a latter day form of debtor’s prison in order to pay for their medical care. There is only one reason why this situation exists and that is because the capitalist system has no vested interest in a single-payer system. Polls consistently show that a majority, if not a plurality of Americans want a single-payer system along the lines of the Canadian or British models and are willing to pay higher taxes to pay for it. Yet the chicken-shit politicians in Washington can’t be bothered to raise their heads out of the soft-money trough long enough to support such a measure. As usual, the corporations have been allowed to set the terms of the debate-the only acceptable system is one which preserves insurance companies right to make money for their shareholders. A single-payer system is dismissed by politicians as “socialized medicine” and this happy horseshit is eagerly parroted by the media elites who have their own heads buried far up the asses of their corporate masters.

The government seems perfectly willing and able to send massive armies across the globe to destabilize up entire regions of the planet but it cannot be bothered to fix a broken health care system that is costing more American lives in a year than terrorists ever could. The only reason we do not have a single payer system is because corporations don’t want one. Such a system would actually cost the consumer less money than the patchwork collection of private insurance which is inadequately covering Americans now. The potential savings on paperwork alone gained by going to a single-payer system, more than $350 billion per year, is enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do. Something has got to give. America’s population is aging and medical care is outrageously expensive. How much more money can these insurance companies stuff into their maws before the social consequences become too big to ignore?

7 comments:

phf655 said...

I have not seen the movie, but have read two reviews of it. It doesn't take genius to know that there is a problem, but finding a solution is the hard part. How do you put 1/6 of the GNP of the US under government auspices, when it has been in private hands of one kind or another? Remember the US constitution requires just compensation for the taking of private property for a public purpose.
Another possible solution is to have the government become the sole source of payment for any entity in the gamut of private (profit or non profit) providers for all services rendered - but that sounds like an invitation to fraud, abuse, and even higher costs that we have now. New York States' experiences in Medicaid, which has become a cash cow for the greediest and most venal sectors of the health care industry, are not encouraging. In general, private-public partnerships don't seem to work well in the United States, somehow morphing into the worst of both sectors of the economy.
The single payer systems are not as heavenly as MM portrays. One always hears stories about long waits for less than critical treatments, and lack of access to cutting edge treatments and therapies, because of caps on health care budgets. Despite the unwelcome and irritating of intrusions of bureaucracies, and the sensational stories about HMO's and insurance companies which refuse to provide vital treatment, that portion of the US populace which has decent insurance probably has access to the best health care in the world - the problem is for the others.
In most countries which have single payer systems there are still parallel networks of care providers and insurance coverage which provide 'private' care to those rich enough to afford it, who want to bypass the public system. So the single payer system is not necessarily a panacea for those concerned about inequality in the world of health care.
Germany and Austria seem to be able to provide high quality care at lower cost to all of their citizens by promulgating stringent requirements for employers to provide insurance coverage for their employees. I don't know exactly how the system works, since not everyone in these countries obviously works, and furthermore Germany has an earlier retirement age and much higher rates of unemployment than the US. It is likely that the US will be moving to a similar system, which might actually work better. Something like this has been put into effect in Massachusetts and Maine, with the state providing financing for those without access to employer-based insurance, but those new systems still need some fine tuning
The system clearly needs fixing, but the old saying about being careful about what you wish for is clearly relevant.

Mark said...

You state some valid critiques of single-payer systems, although I do not believe that the government changing business models in the healthcare system is necessarily a "takings" issue, more like preemption, if anything. Nevertheless, there are even more compelling arguments in favor of such a system.

1.A single payer system will enhance the comparative position of the U.S. in the global market. The current insurance system puts the U.S. at a disadvantage against countries with a government system. Companies such as General Motors that have factories in both the US and other countries have learned this lesson well; in 2003 the costs of manufacturing a midsize car in Canada were $1,400 less than that of manufacturing the identical car in the US, primarily because of much higher health costs in this country.
2.A single payer system gives the government greater leverage to control costs by being able to take advantage of economies of scale in bargaining with providers.
3. Vastly reduced administrative costs as previously discussed.
4. Transparency in coverage decisions.
5. Greater public accountibility.
6. Good for business; employers spend less on healthcare costs.

As for the issue of waiting for procedures and quality of care, I think the problem is that Americans have exaggerated expectations about what their healthcare should be. I also think that there are tens of thousands of unecessary procedures done by doctors every day to generate income.
Part of any transition to a single-payer system has to include education on wellness, incentives for diet change and exercise, quitting smoking programs and substance abuse counseling.

Also, medical schools should ideally be free or completely subsidized by the government as they are in most other western countries.

If the rich wasnt to spend their own money on private medical care I suppose one can't stop them. they're doing it now anyway. I could go on and on and on and on, but I have to do some work today.

Anonymous said...

But Mark, you are getting all enraged about this and Paris Hilton is incarcerated! God, you are so insensitive!
Phil

sasquach2007 said...

Mark
From what I've heard Major corporations may be behind the idea of universal health care. Because in the American market healthcare costs for companies like Domestic Auto manufacturing are killing them in a competitive market. Ironically they may be the ones who really start clamoring for a European style program so they drop the costs of their employee health plans to the public sector. This wouldn't be a bad thing it might bring about the outcome you want. Just remember as Thomas Dewey said "American government is simply the shadow cast by big business". It may take major corparations like the auto industry to get the government to act. Sorry to say. By the way Sasquach2007 is Pete.

Michael said...

Every single country in the industrialized world, except the United States, offers universal health care. American exceptionalism! It's what's killing us!

Anonymous said...

Patriot,

Just got back from the doctor. Damn that co-pay. least I got a lollipop. How bout posting something new, so we can all bitch and moan about something other than our health [care system].

Anonymous said...

Great Post Patriot - exactly to the point. I've noticed the Mainstream Media whores now coming out talking about how Socialized medicine brings in Foreign Doctors who are often Terrorists!!?! This goes right back to the point the ex-house of lords dude makes in the movie, that there are two ways to keep people down, scare them and/or demoralize them. Booga Booga! Social Medicine will bring Al Queda to your HMO!!! Booga Booga, Social Medicine will make you wait in line with Sick People!!! Blah!

Corporations control congress and the media and enforce their will on us by keeping us uneducated demoralized and fearful, enriching themselves on our daily slaving to survive. They profit by keeping us sick and stupid.