Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Alan's Soapbox - The "Health Care" Racket

I've been watching the "news" about the 'health care' debate. It makes me sick. (good thing I have insurance...) I'm bothered by a couple things. First, there isn't any discussion of health or of care. It's all about insurance and access. Second, we, the people, are not even at the table.

I understand that we are a democracy (or a republic). We are "represented" by our elected officials, and they watch out for us. But we don't have any money so we don't have any clout that counts when decisions get made. That's our system. It is less than perfect, but it is better than all the others. Still, it would be nice to have a place at the table as health care is discussed.

My main concern is with the nature of the discussion and the fixes that are being explored. Everyone is worried about insurance. I understand that. It is very difficult to access the medical system without it. But that is because the medical system is flawed. Insurance is a scam. When the gangs move into the neighborhood and start threatening businesses if they don't pay for protection we call it a crime. The protection they offer doesn't make the businesses run better, make the community healthier or safer. It just makes you a little less afraid. But only a little less. If it removed the fear you would stop paying. Insurance is the same game. It doesn't make you healthy. They want you to be reasonably healthy, but they also want you to be afraid. If you are not afraid of getting sick, why would you pay? Insurance doesn't promote health. It doesn't promote care. It controls access. It is the only gamble where you want to loose. You don't want the payout. It's not like Blackjack where you know the house will win most of the time but you hold out hope that you will get lucky. You don't want the insurance to pay because you will either be sick or dead. Who wants that? The insurance doesn't want to pay either. They don't want to pay to keep you well, because if we got good at staying well we wouldn't need insurance. They don't want to pay to get you well if you get sick. They only pay the minimum they think they can get away with so you don't feel too ripped off. For the insurance industry it is all about making money, and they make the most off of a reasonably healthy population that feels access is limited and is afraid. Their best strategy is to keep access limited and fear quite high.

Then there is the medical system. I'm not talking about individuals here, they mostly want people to be healthy and try to help them in that direction. I'm talking about the delivery system and the suppliers. They only make money when people get sick. They are not at all interested in promoting health. They are also not really interested in improving access. If the thing you want or need is limited you will PAY. It is in the medical systems best interest to have people who are sick and who have limited access to services.

These are the two players at the table. They sit down with the government (our representatives, many of whom were elected in campaigns funded in large part by the two money players at the table) and they are going to "fix" the system. Except from their perspective it isn't really broken. It just needs to be spun out again so the masses will stop complaining.

I don't hold out much hope for a real fix. What ever happens the big players will still make lots of money, and our access will still be limited.


nancybond said...

I won't touch this with a ten foot pole. :-) I very recently got trampled under virtual foot when I extolled the positive points of our Cdn health care system, so I've decided that politics/health care, like religion, is best left off the blog page. :-)

But I did want to stop and say hello -- I'm anxious to find more of your recent posts. I haven't been hiding...for a while, Blotanical wasn't picking up my blog, etc. But anyway.........HELLO! I hope your summer is going well.

Sheria said...

You add an interestin piece to the health care debate. I agree with you sopmewhat, the discussion has not centered on health or care. However, I think that the link to access is a direct reflection on health and care. I would like to see a system that was totally based on health and care but I don't think that as a whole America is ready to make such a change. I think that to focus on health and care would mean a system that was not based on your ability to pay but on provision of preventive care to all and treatment as needed to the ill. I supect that most people would label such a system as socialist; I just call it fair.

So while I agree with your basic premise, I do think that the current debate in terms of insurance and access is a valid one given our love of free market enterprise and our fear of socialism. If insurance is required to access health care, then the costs of that insurance must be afordable for all. Currently, that's not even close to accurate. A story about the access to health care crisis in my home state of NC sums it up well: http://www.newsobserver.com/2662/story/1652253.html

Sheria said...

Okay, I have to learn to proofread my comments. I never learned to type.

Sheria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan said...

Nancy - Big Business is really afraid of universal health care. They have been really effective in spreading that fear. Glad to see you back in the comments. Missed you.

Sheria, with the current system access is key. I hope we can make it better. That would be a slight improvement, but even with that we will be having this conversation in 10 years (or less, the cycle of failure is getting shorter as the systems collaps). I guess my real frusteration is we are not talking about ways to make people healthier, or taking better care of our communities. We are only pushing for the big players to accept a little less payoff so more people have slightly better access. That isn't a fix, it is a bandaid, and it won't stick for long.

Alan said...

Sheria's link got broken. Here it is again. http://www.newsobserver.com/2662/story/1652253.html

It points out how expensive "health care" insurance is. I've seen it from the business side as well as from the policy holders side. I watched the insurance fight to not pay as my mom died of cancer caused by government defence test (which we were 'compensated' for). I've seen (and been employeed by) a small business that was trying to take care of it's employees and couldn'g because the costs kept going up. I understand the accesability issue. It informes the choices we make on a daily basis. BUT... fixing it in the ways proposed doesn't fix health care. It doesn't adress health, or care... just money, and the payers will not come out the winners. Sucks to be me, and you...


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