Why We Need Universal Health Care

From The Washington Monthly…

THE GOP’S EMERGENCY-ROOM ARGUMENT LIVES…. I’d hoped we would hear the argument much less after the Affordable Care Act became law, but the notion that the uninsured can just rely on emergency rooms hasn’t gone away quite yet.
Here, for example, was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Fox News the other day:

“The fact is a lot of people that don’t have insurance are getting [care] right now. They’re not denied in the emergency rooms. They’re generally not denied by doctors. It’s not a pretty system, but the idea that people are not getting health care particularly for critical needs is just — is just not the case.”

This is strikingly wrong. For one thing, doctors in private practice nationwide tend to take on patients with insurance. For another, all McDonnell has to do is spend a few minutes at a free clinic someday to realize all kinds of families in need go without much-needed care every day, in Virginia and elsewhere.
But it’s that darn emergency-room argument that needs the most help.

Let’s set the record straight. It’s true that under the previous system — before the Affordable Care Act passed — if you’re uninsured and get sick, there are public hospitals that will treat you. But it’s extremely expensive to treat patients this way, and it would be far cheaper, and more medically effective, to pay for preventative care so that people don’t have to wait for a medical emergency to seek treatment.
For that matter, when sick people with no insurance go to the E.R. for care, they often can’t pay their bills. Since hospitals can’t treat sick patients for free, the costs are passed on to everyone else.

Good points. Comparing the emergency medical system to primary care is like comparing the fire department to a smoke alarm. You don’t neglect fire safety just because you know the firefighters will try to save your life and property. A water-soaked ruin is not a good outcome.

I’m always hearing that the health care crisis is caused by hypochondriac Americans running to the doctor every five minutes. I don’t see that in the community. I more often see stories like this–

From Dr. Jennifer S. Chang in the New York Times…

It Was Benign, but Almost Killed Him
William Siewert almost died from an enlarged prostate.
Not prostate cancer, just a “benign” enlarged prostate. He is yet another example of the people who fall victim to our currently broken health care system. He agreed to share his story in the hope that someday cases like his would be rare exceptions.

William Siewert lost his job and insurance. He could have been treated with a daily pill, failing that he could have had routine surgery. Instead, with no regular doctor he could afford and just the emergency room, he ended up with kidney failure. The pain and suffering he endured in the year it took to ruin his kidneys I can’t imagine. The cost of his care has now run up to several hundred thousand dollars.

To read the rest, William Siewert’s ordeal and why he lost his insurance, .Follow the link here.

Ironically, there is a special government program for kidney failure. The discovery of dialysis, in a more confident America, struck politicians as the gift of life, and they voted for Medicare to cover kidney disease.

But more people on dialysis is the last thing our country needs. The point where intervention is needed is before the person’s body is trashed. I’ve seen people end up on dialysis because of untreated diabetes– it’s heartbreaking when it could have been prevented.

I don’t think most Americans really want to follow the model of the firefighters who stood around watching a house burn because the owner hadn’t paid a fee. But that is what we’ve been doing to human beings.

We have to do better. We need universal health care now.

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10 thoughts on “Why We Need Universal Health Care

  1. You know, I hate to disagree with you, but I believe there is a significant chunk of our population who heartily approve of those firefighters.

    And this group is perfectly fine with the idea of “those people” not getting care.

    The attitude I run into is that there are a lot of people who would rather deny care to ten truly deserving people, rather than see one “undeserving” person get care.

    The definition of “undeserving” may vary, but skin color shows up fairly often. After all, anyone who gets sick, or is poor, is obviously not one of God’s Chosen. They’re all reprobate anyway, they’re all going to Hell, so why not hasten the departure?

    And here’s the kicker: those agreeing with the firefighters vehemently object to paying for someone else’s health care.

    Guess what. You’re paying for Bill Gates’ health care. And Jack Welch’s. And for the health care of every high-rolling hedge fund manager, or Wall St financier who helped run our country into the economic ditch.

    You pay for it twice, in fact.

    You see, health care is a business expense. As such, it gets passed on to you, the consumer. Everyone who uses a Microsoft product is paying for Bill Gates. Everyone who uses a bank is paying for the CEO’s health care.

    And then, because it’s an expense, companies can turn around and deduct it from their taxes. So you pay again, because you have to pick up the slack left by large companies that pay zero federal income tax.

    In a given year, about 1/3 of all Fortune 500 companies pay no income tax. In fact, some of them get refund checks through the clever gaming of the tax system.

    And then they record record profits, and give themselves nice fat bonuses.

    Nice work if you can get it.

    • Can you make any argument without throwing in the race card?And I know who you are,and you’re a middle class White guy making believe you are sooo conscious of racial inequity.You use it like a tissue and you should be ashamed of yourself.The reason you sound so bitter is that you’re probably disappointed that you couldn’t make it onto the corporate gravy train yourself.

      • I’ve seen countless people struggle with insecurity around health care over 20 years in nursing. Most of them, like most Rhode Islanders, are white, native-born.
        Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard and confronted racist behavior in health care workers. I worry about patients who have to depend on people with these attitudes.
        But lack of access to health care affects many people you would label as middle-class.

  2. We’re also paying for the ‘free’ care given in emergency rooms. We’re paying to treat illness rather than to promote health. Reform that works has to focus on preventive care, but the politics and economics are on the side of medicine for profit.

  3. Nancy-let’s face it-there are bigots we’ll encounter in all walks of life and they aren’t all White people by any means-nothing justifies being one.
    I agree completely that many middle class people are living under a shadow of financial ruin because of inadequate health care-and preventing disease(not always possible)is a hell of a lot cheaper and generally better for everyone than treating it.
    Working poor have the same problem.
    Medicine has to involve profit though because someone isn’t going to spend a decade becoming a doctor and then not expect to make a good living.
    Doctors are,assuming them to be good,ethical doctors,highly valued members of society and deserve recompense commensurate with what they contribute.
    I don’t resent a doctor making a lot of money when you see athletes and entertainers making a whole lot more.
    It(health care)is a very challenging issue and it shouldn’t be subordinaated to politics as usual,but it seems to be.
    As for those town halls,I never attended one,but it seemed you were constantly enraged that people who disagreed with you were so vocal.You have no more free speech rights than they do.I think they were less angry at health care than they were mistrustful of politicians,and who can blame them?

  4. If you think I was constantly enraged you didn’t read my posts. I quoted actual conversations. If I had not been willing to talk respectfully there would have been no conversations.
    A huge crowd assembled in Warwick partly because word went out that ACORN was sending an army of homeless lured by the prospect of a free lunch. Who started that malicious rumor?
    It’s our loss that so many lies about the present state of health care and the proposed reform confused the issue, because we have a crisis and reasonable people disagree on how to fix it.

  5. I’m sorry to go off the important topic of affordable health care for all, but I wanted to alert people that in today’s HuffPo, Al Franken has an alarming article on how the FCC is now making rulings that threaten net neutrality for getting sites like this one on mobile broadband devices. The FCC is also not banning the “paid prioritization” that could let corporate blogs buy the fast lane, putting our sites in the slow.

    The outcry from independent websites was crucial yesterday in improving the FCC ruling. But we need to stay alert and inform each other as new threats come up. We need a community of Paul Revere web bloggers.

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