In a recent USA Today headline, “Our System Is Sick”, the claim is that 92% of all Americans want changes in healthcare. Some of the stats shared by USA Today:
95% want affordable car
94% want lower prescription drug costs and affordable and accessible coverage of pre-existing conditions
93% access to doctors and hospitals
90% improving health care itself
85% want all to have health coverage
That last stat is really kind of odd, and actually quite a large number to object to coverage for everyone. I really do not understand that, unless, UNLESS, to want everyone to have health coverage, that would mean you would have to concede that health care is a basic human right, and not a privilege. Some Americans just are not willing to accept that concept. And that is sad.
Being a cancer survivor, I have a HUGE vested interest in this fight. At the age of 21, I was invincible. I was immortal. I had also previously dropped my health insurance that my parents had been paying for me. I was healthy. Why would I throw money away into something I was never going to have to use? I would be giving money away, for nothing. My history shows just how disastrous that thinking was.
Another political season is upon us, and that means of course increased arguments and more importantly, more empty promises when it comes to what to be done about health care. Yes, I am a cynic about this. Having a huge interest in health care personally, over the years I have become a single issue voter, and that issue is health care. In my nearly 30 years of survivorship, we are not much better off than I was back in my cancer days. And it has not mattered who was president. Clinton brought us HMO’s, which was a discounted health plan, but you traded the lower cost for a lot more bureaucratic bullshit when it came to getting cared for. If you had something actually wrong, you were restricted who you could see, could be denied critical testing until you exhausted appeals until your situation was dire, or worse. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), was supposed to be a huge step toward making health care affordable and accessible, but it too had flaws, a lot of them. The biggest flaw? Not correcting and improving those flows. But with fighting from both political parties, ultimately, the losers were Americans dying for affordable and accessible health care. The huge step backwards came with the current president, who chipped away at the ACA, as the entirety of the act hangs in the balance of total repeal, in spite of him promising “the best health care ever.” Three years into his presidency, nothing, except he would deal with it once re-elected.
I do not want this post to be about the failings of all of our presidents to do the right thing, and that is to make sure that every American has the right to affordable and accessible health care. Instead, I want to refer back to the statistic above, 85% of the people surveyed want all to have health insurance. I want to talk about that 15%. That 15% is the reason, and evidently enough to prevent any kind of solutions to our health care crisis. It was believed that a “public option” to the ACA would have made a difference. It never happened. And there is plenty of talk about “Medicare For All”. And that is all that has really happened for three decades, lots of talk. And you know what has happened in all that time? A lot of people have died, waiting, hoping.
So who might that 15% of America be that do not want every American to have the right to health care? I have some theories.
The Health Insurance. I have spent a lot of ink bashing the insurance industry, deservedly so. The basic concept of insurance, you pay them money in case you get sick. They only make money, if you do not get sick. Well guess what? Just as I found out at age 22 getting diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, plenty of people find out they actually do get sick, and many cases extreme. The only way for the insurance company to survive, is to either raise premiums (and all of the other components such as co-pays, etc.), deny coverages, or deny patients. So yes, the insurance industry is one of the big bad guys in the health care crisis.
Now it also needs to be stated, I have many friends who work in the industry. They get paid to administer, sell, and answer all forms of issues. It is how they make their living. These are very good people and would lose their jobs without the health insurance industry, though I am sure in a government run health care program, they would have that option, as well as the many benefits of a federal employee.
As many candidates for president either push for elimination of the insurance industry for health care, others opt for a side by side option with federal and private insurance, the truth is, the health insurance industry will not survive a “Medicare for All” or hybrid. “Medicare For All” shuts the insurance down completely, but those who offer MFA as an option, in hopes of driving down premiums and other costs, the insurance industry simply gets choked out if it cannot charge enough to make a profit. Seriously, why would you pay a higher rate for the same coverage?
Taxpayers The boogie man here is the word “tax.” Nobody likes taxes. And the only thing worse, is an “additional tax.” But as anyone with a 3rd grade education should be able to do, figure out the math benefit of an MFA versus traditional insurance coverage. I want to be clear, I am using simple and basic numbers, not actual numbers, but the example is used to demonstrate the impact.
A tax of let’s say, 10% is taken from income. An annual income of $45,000 would be taxed $4500 for the year health coverage. Currently, and I do know this as fact, a single policy holder in Florida can pay $1600 per month even having no pre existing conditions through Blue Cross. This amounts to $19,200 per year. Again, put the mind of a 3rd grader into your head… which is better for you? Paying $4500 a year, or paying $19,200 a year.
There are actually people, and I know several, that have no problem paying nearly $15,000 more than they would need to pay, as long as they were not paying a tax to the government. The literal definition of cutting your nose off to spite your face. The war cry “I don’t want government involved in my health care.” The people with this attitude have accepted their belief to rather be broke or denied health care, than to pay a tax to the government. But this group needs to go a little further into detail.
“Christians” and other people just worried about themselves I remember as far back as the 1970’s and 1980’s, we used to be a nation that cared about others, the homeless, the unemployed, the sick. Now I purposely used the word “Christians” and had it in quotes, because there are those that hide behind that title and yet contradict the beliefs of their religion, to care about others. And here is why I shut that argument down. I actually have friends who adamantly state…
“I am not paying for someone lazy to have health insurance.” Their use of the word lazy is really vague, and I imagine it is on purpose. Because if you pin someone down by asking why you think someone is lazy, unless you are 100% aware of the circumstances of an individual, you have no idea why. And honestly, why is it anyone’s business why someone is not able to work, or unable to find work. It makes no difference the reason why. You know the expression, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” We are no different than a book. I am a bit more open about the health issues that I deal with, and therefor do not usually get called out, anymore that is. But there are those who do not make their issues known publicly. And who are we to judge their circumstance? Do we not have enough on our own plates to worry about?
So if we deal with the insurance industry, and get people to understand common sense that it better to pay a lower figure tax as opposed to a high profit premium, we still have the thoughts of not wanting to help others as the speed bump to lower health costs and affordability, even if it meant better for themselves.
Look, health care was not complicated decades ago. And everyone was taken care of. I had to ask my mother how my care was handled as a child. She paid $5 for an office visit. And I recall a hospital surgery in my early childhood, that, my mother, a single mother at the time, was not forced into bankruptcy with the bill from the hospital. And admittedly, there was a thing called “malpractice” lawsuits that increased health care costs, because doctors had to carry insurance against those lawsuits. And because that made healthcare costs rise, the need for insurance came along. And then, Big Bad Pharma found their goldmine. If I needed medicine from my doctor as a child, guess what, the medicine was given from the doctor’s office itself.
We know the reasons for the high costs of health care. We know this can be dealt with. We know that the majority of Americans want it dealt with. Why are we still just talking about it? If you are a candidate for president, I am listening if you want my vote. Every other industrialized country covers its citizens, not profiting off of their sick. Sure there are problems. But those problems are no reason to just keep talking and do nothing.