Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#120 Health-Care Reform and "Socialized Medicine"

To continue from last post ... My goodness, can there be any valid excuse for not having Universal Health Care in this country? Socialism-Schmocialism: it's a moral imperative ... it's even a patriotic duty, by jingo--other civilized counties are putting us to shame. And as far as the American people are concerned, rah, rah ... they're all for it. In terms of electoral majorities, that is. Listen to the vox populi: according to the network and newspaper polls, Americans support a Public Option in the Health Care Reform package by an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin. A majority of 55-60% are willing to pay higher taxes for it. That second figure is even more satisfying than the first, I believe, because it statistically must reflect large numbers of people who can actually afford the high price of comprehensive private insurance, but who are altruistically concerned over the plight of of others who cannot. And that's just ... all good.

The so-called Public Option has also been called a mere "nibbling" away at the private Big-Med monster that devours everything in its path. One-third to one-half of all personal bankruptcies are due to health care debt. Why? Collectively we spend over two trillion dollars a year on a health care system that costs 50% more than the next most-costly nation. Add this to our insane War Debt, and the country itself could go bankrupt. Even those countries with mixed private/public systems (e.g. Germany, France, Switzerland), however, are able to cover their citizens at a fraction of our costs, I've learned. So if the only to way to pass significant reform measures is to include Big-Med in the mix with Public Option, okay. It's one step closer to the ideal: SINGLE-PAYER.

And that's eventually what this country will end up with. The Public Option (which WILL pass--you heard it here) will prove to be more attractive, less expensive than the private options, and we'll all soon be speaking Canadian ... if not English. Just listen to Sen. Mitch "Minority Leader" McConnell lamenting on Fox, "The private insurance people will not be able to compete with a government option." Boo-hoo. He's inadvertently touting Single-Payer without realizing it. He knows that the Feds will not have "overhead" expenses for marketing and advertising, will have irresistible power in lowering costs from from providers, and will make ... no profit. That last cuts cost by 10-30% right off the top, say the experts. Everybody would save money.

But as we inevitably move to public health care, the big payoff will be in moral/social equity: everyone would be entitled to the medical treatment they need regardless of age, background, or circumstance. Only a very few things in our social infrastructure are too important, too complicated, and too "national" to entrust to a profit-driven Free Market. Health Care is one of those things, along with others we take for granted like the Military and the Post Office. Big news: we're already "socialized." We've got Unemployment and Old Age covered, and Medicaid takes care of the young and disabled. A Universal "single-payer" Health Care system is the logical extension.

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