Warning: rant alert:
I was listening to President Obama answer questions on health care reform last night, and was looking at photos from a May 30 Health Care rally in Seattle, when I realized that this is not one of those times to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens. We have got to say something to our representatives to get things moving on overhauling our health care system in the US. Here are some of my thoughts:
- When my husband worked in the insurance industry he received commissions for placing health plans with employers. He was the tail end of a number of layers of incentives for producers - agents, managers, brokers, etc. All of these payments remove dollars from the actual amount of premium that we pay that goes toward actually covering our health care needs under the current system. Translation - higher costs of health care simply to grease the payment system.
- A participant in one of my development groups has a father that worked briefly as medical director for a major health insurance company. He received incentives for denying coverage - and he quit because he believed that his employer expected him to violate the Hippocratic Oath he took when he became a physician in order to make more money for the company.
- A middle-class family without health insurance that I know was forced to allow their 50-ish wife/mother to die prematurely of breast cancer because they couldn't afford to pay for her treatment.
- In working with small business owners, one of the largest ethical dilemmas they talk about is whether or not to pay for health insurance for various groups of their employees. In a number of cases the owners express that, although they don't like it, they feel that costs of insurance are so prohibitive that they have to choose to maintain the company's financial health over the health of their employees.
- It sounds contradictory to hear insurance companies espouse the free market system for health care, then to hear the same ones complain that they won't be able to compete against a government health care program modeled after Medicare. Isn't that the whole idea? In a free market, if you can't compete, somebody takes your customers. If you take issue with this perspective, review the first couple of points above.
- A government health coverage plan is not socialized medicine. In socialized medicine hospitals are operated by the government, and physicians work for the government. The single payor plans have nothing to do with folding the entire health care industry under the government. Instead, they are about providing access to health care for every citizen as a right, not as a privilege.
- Failure to receive preventive care and early treatment means higher costs later. Lack of health care coverage leads to lack of preventive care and early treatment.
- Poor health leads to poor performance in school, absenteeism from work, etc. It's a chain reaction that interferes with our productivity as a nation, not to mention its impact on quality of life.
- I understand that many people are concerned about government getting its tentacles into their business and personal lives. They want to keep the money that they work hard to earn, and they want to enjoy the benefits of their labors. Yet tax money helps to fund, for instance, the physical infrastructure, the roads and bridges that move our citizens and fuel our businesses. Why should it not also help to fund the infrastructure that gives every citizen the opportunity to live a healthy life? This is an issue of values.