Monday, August 13, 2007

The US and Socialized Medicine

Back in March of 2006 I posted an article called "Health Care in Canada is Sick and Dying" in which I opined that the Canadian system has many flaws but also contrasted it with the incredibly expensive US system. An obviously American reader posted a comment, anonymously, in which he or she states that:
There's a reason health care in the US costs a lot. Because it's better.
Well, as Michael Moore has shown...not so much. The anonymous comment goes on to say that stories of people dying in the US because they could not afford health care are myths. Again, not quite.

Sure, there is such a thing as free emergency care, but only to people below a certain tax bracket. People with insurance are habitually denied coverage for various reasons. Let's face it, Insurance companies really don't want to pay anything out...this is how they make a profit. So they will try everything to deny a claim. People have declared bankruptcy because of sudden medical bills. This is a fact, though what is disputed are the numbers. Some studies show that half of all bankruptcy claims have some health care related factor. Whatever the number, the personal economic effect of vast medical bills is deplorable.

Some people can afford the insurance. Great. Once you or your spouse gets an iron-clad, gold class, health insurance policy through his/her employer, try leaving that employer and get coverage elsewhere if at anytime you have made a claim. Good luck.

Fred, at tackles this issue in a recent post. In hit he asks some difficult questions:

Now, what do we do with people who have obeyed all the fabled American rules, who have worked, perhaps at pathetic wages and no benefits, and never cheated, and been honest citizens, and then the bottling plant went to China and they’re old and have nothing? What?

We could be good social Darwinists and let them rot. They are not cutting edge people, not Verilog mechanics or optical engineers or hedge-fund managers. Who needs them? All right. If this is your position, say so. Look me in the eye and say, “Screw’em. I don’t care what happens to them and I’m not going to spend a red cent on them.” Say this, and I will understand you.

And later:
It’s different to Mary Sal Wooten in a decaying trailer somewhere on 301 South, with her retinas peeling like wallpaper from diabetic retinopathy, ankles swollen and darkening toward gangrene, and the hospital won’t take her because it isn’t an emergency and she can’t afford her medicine. Really, truly no-shit can’t afford it.

What do we do with people like her? People who just flat can’t handle the complexity of today’s world? It seems to me that anyone who wants to think about socialized medicine has to answer that question before starting.

Fred has more experience than many with the seedier underbellies of American society, and in the backwater towns that litter most of the US landscape. So his opinions have always seemed more valid to me than those of some upper-middle class columnist or blogger whose viewpoint goes little beyond their white picket fence, or through the windows of their Hummer.

His final thought:

What other solutions are available? Many say, “It’s a job for private charity.” This is another way of saying, “Screw’em, I ain’t paying a cent.” Yet others say cut taxes and the resulting economic boom will lift all boats. This is another way of saying, “Screw’em, I ain’t paying a cent.”

But let’s at least have the dignity to say what we mean. The truth is that large numbers of people cannot take care of themselves beyond showing up at work every day and spinning lug nuts on the assembly line. They aren’t going to invest wisely from youth because they aren’t smart enough. Employers aren’t going to provide retirements unless forced to. Hospitals won’t take them if they can avoid it. Do we say, “Screw’em, let’em croak”? Apparently. Then let’s say so plainly.

I believe in capitalism, but the US system is abhorrent.

'Nuff said.