Thursday, June 18, 2009
As Congress prepares to debate the merits of changing our health care system, I have built my own special bunker to insulate me from the shitstorm of lies that is on its way to a 24-hour news network near you. 75% of Americans currently favor the public option, a system under which you can choose to either keep your current health insurance or pick a government created plan. The companies that have been ripping us off - you know the ones who have continually increased premiums until they are utterly unreasonable and discontinued the coverage of people who have expensive illnesses - won't allow their little scam to come to an end easily. These fellows have profit margins to look after. How would their stockholders feel if the system saved lives but lost money?
Hey ass hole, you might say (if you've met me before) health care reform is hugely expensive and our government is running huge deficits. How can we as a country afford to take on such a burden? I would ask, how can we not? The system we are now saddled with financially cripples individuals as well as businesses who are forced to split the costs. Recent media reports have suggested that 46 million Americans have no insurance at all and that number is rising among our country's youth.
In the long run public health insurance plans make fiscal sense. Nations that provide their citizens with cheap medical care see a rise in preventative measures, resulting in a decrease in catastrophic illnesses. You know, the kinds that cost so much green you could build a golf course with it. A national system can also free capital for businesses, who currently devote a huge chunk of their resources towards employee health care. These millions of dollars can be invested and put to use rebuilding our stumbling economy.
If the public option works as planned the average American will be able to spend less on health care. With premiums having doubled in just the last nine years that is no small chunk of change. Government competition will skew free market forces, causing the insurance companies to adapt or die.
Many people will complain that the government has an unfair advantage and there is no way the companies will be able to compete with their resources. I contend in this instance that is perfectly okay. The capitalist business model has consistently failed when applied to two aspects of our society - education and health care. In these venues the goal is not survival of the fittest, but determining the best way to help as many people as possible. In fact you can see a bit of an analogy for the public option when you look at the interplay in higher education between the public and private sectors in the United States. There are public (state run) colleges as well as private colleges both competing for students and each have been able to find their own niche and thrive. As long as the private colleges provide something that people need they will survive. The same is true of privately run insurance companies.
All of what I have said thus far is important, but there is a perhaps less logical, but certainly more humane point to be made here. Sure health care reform is great if it helps our economy and contributes to smaller deficits, but the bottom line is saving and improving lives.
Although I don't agree with all the points that Michael Moore makes in his move "Sicko," the main theme throughout was that we are all human beings and we owe it to one another to do all we can to protect others who are sick or injured, regardless of whether there is a financial benefit involved. The job of a doctor is not to save only the lives of those that can pay. Good, quality health care is a human right, something that should be guaranteed by the Constitution to all Americans.