Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Socialized Medicine"??

We were having a short discussion about politics the other day, and one friend made the remark, "Well if Hillary becomes president, then that means we'll have to get used to big government, and socialized medicine."

He spat out the term "socialized medicine" like it was poison. I found that strange. He is over 50 years old and has a bunch of medical things wrong with him - he has both his and his wife's health insurance and each company tries to avoid paying any of their medical bills by hoping the other insurance company will cover it. He and his wife are both seriously ill on an ongoing basis. And they find it difficult to afford their medical costs now. Why in the world would he NOT want the government to provide free health care??

I don't understand something here. What the hell is the problem with government providing healthcare insurance? Why is that called "socialized health care" here? The government provides police services, fire services, school services, park services, military services, water management services, and hundreds of other services. We don't call it "Socialized Fire Services". or "Socialized Police Services" or "Socialized high schools".

Every other civilized country in the world except South Africa provides government supported healthcare insurance. Why would we NOT want that? Why in the world would we PREFER to have private companies trying to diminish the quality of our healthcare by cutting corners to maintain their profit margins? Doctors cannot afford to give certain treatments or procedures or certain drugs, because they cannot afford the optional insurance, or because the patients' insurance doesn't cover them.
For example, my insurance company is one of the biggest, Aetna, and I have their premium PPO plan, and despite the fact that doctors and the AMA recommend that anyone over age 40, should have a colonoscopy every 2 years to prevent against colon cancer, my top-rated health insurance does not permit ANY until age 50, and then only 1 visit per 10 years.

Also, insurance companies will refuse to take a new customer if they have a "pre-existing condition". That means that many people are stuck working in a job or a company that they don't like and for less wages, because they cannot change companies. To change their employer is to cancel the old insurance and apply to the new employer's insurance, and if they or a family member has a long-term illness that is 'pre-existing', then they may not be accepted by the new insurance company. Or the insurance company may decide that they will accept them, but not cover the pre-existing illness treatments. They are, after all, just a business trying to make a profit, and assuming a known liability like that will lose them money. And as a privately owned company, they are under no obligation to lose money just to provide a needed service. So the person is effectively held hostage at that old employer because of their insurance.

In 2005, there were over 2 million bankruptcies across America. Over 1 milllion of them - more than half - were as a direct result of medical costs that exceeded the coverage provided by health care insurance companies. Is this how we WANT it to work for our people?

Also, American companies are disadvantaged by this model. Continental Airlines calculated that last year, they could have saved over $800 million dollars in health care premiums if they simply had a younger workforce. They would have qualified for lower premiums. That would have meant that they could have MADE $400 million in profit instead of LOSING $400 million in losses last year. GM and FORD are claiming that the main reason they are so near bankruptcy in recent years is the fact that they are held down by having to pay ongoing healthcare premiums for all former employees as well as current employees. That is over 1 million people each company. With healthcare insurance havcing risen over 80% in the last 2 years alone - this has been disastrous.

In general, American companies are at a competitive disadvantage because all their foreign competitors don't have these expenses to deal with. Japanese car makers, German Car Makers, French, Italian - in these countries, their governments provide healthcare for their citizens. The employers don't have to. Therefore, the costs of it are not factored into their prices, and therefore they can compete internationally. So, this is not a level playing field for American companies competing with foreign companies. Is this how we WANT it to work for our employers in this country?

Basically then, in our society, we have decided that there are some products and services that are available through private companies and some are provided by government services. Some things, like police, fire, military, schools, park management, water management, etc. we trust to impartial government-run agencies. The others, we have private companies take care of. The deciding factor should be those services which are fundamentally necessary to our society and should not be compromised due to profitability models.

So tell me again, why the government should NOT provide healthcare for the citizens - like all other civilized countries? And explain it real slow so it will make sense....

I think this is just a concept that has been spun in the public mind by the medical industry in order to maintain a status quo system that gives them a huge profit - at the expense of every other aspect of our society. In other words - people have been brainwashed to think that this one service should never be provided by a government agency. They are taught to think that this one particular service represents the difference between a "free" society and a "socialist" society, and, of course, we've all been taught that a socialist society is bad.... It sounds like a clever scheme dreamed up by medical capitalists. How fascinatingly ironic!


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