As the Health Care Bill works its way through Congress and both liberals and conservatives quibble about all the things wrong with it (and how very little is right), the American People seem confused. After all, it was just a year ago that We The People clamored for health care reform in such a mighty voice that the politicians were forced to give it priority over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and even the economy! (Although the two are interrelated, but we'll keep it simple for now.) With jobs being lost at a frightening pace and the economy in shambles, the last thing that the incoming Obama administration wanted to deal with was health care. But they heard us. And they started to work.
Now, just a year later, we're told by our own polls that most Americans do NOT support health care reform. How did this happen? Did YOU change your mind? I know I didn't! It also seems like both liberals and conservatives are not happy with the bill that has finally emerged from Congress, yet is now being ram-rodded through the legislative pipeline. What could be the cause of such a state of affairs?
The answer, of course, is POLITRICKS. The usual combination of well-financed special interests spending time and resources to re-program how we all think and feel about any given issue. At one point during the debates, it was revealed that the medical insurance industry the biggest lobby in DC was spending nearly $2.5 million each month to influence the debate. Most of those dollars went into media. Suddenly various boogeymen kept popping-up, one after another: rationing, death panels, "socialized medicine," gutting Medicare, and the perennial favorite: higher taxes! Before anyone could sufficiently respond to one charge, they'd launch the next offensive. And, as always, there's the ever-looming argument on how to pay for it all an argument that is at the base of ANY proposed change in America.
Since the Mythbusters or Penn & Teller have been silent thus far, I am therefore taking it upon myself to tell you the plain and simple truth: it's all BULLSHIT. You and I, and all of America have been carefully taught to think wrong, like the old Steve Martin joke about teaching your kids inappropriate language and watching the fun when they go to school. I wonder who is laughing as the health care debate rages!
So let's start at the core of the argument: the #1 way that Americans think wrongly about what health care is. It is NOT gold. It is not oil. It is not pork bellies. In short, it is NOT A COMMODITY. Yet we speak about it as if it's a product! We need to scrub this idea from our collective thought. Instead, we need to see health care for what it really is: an essential service. It is the same as fire protection and police services. Note how often the three work together! Whenever there is a major disaster, you'll see police, fire and ambulance vehicles. We depend on these services when we're at our lowest, most vulnerable state. Imagine what kind of hell we'd have if we privatized our police and fire services into for-profit institutions"
You come back to your home after a nice dinner out with the spouse only to find your home on fire. You dial 911 and in minutes the firefighters arrive. Visible flames are erupting from one part of your home, but you think to yourself that most of it can still be saved" but then the fire chief comes up to you with a clipboard in his hand. He begins talking about your options: simple fire suppression, search and rescue, investigation and on and on. Then there are the fees: mileage, pulling hoses, city water usage and so on. All the while he's talking money at you, your home is burning away, and nobody will lift a finger until you show them your fire insurance card. "We also accept Visa and American Express!"
This hellish description of what could be is exactly how we do things when it comes to health care.
The #2 way we think wrongly is that health insurance is health care. Over the past 30 years or so, we've equated the way we PAY for a service with the service itself. The fact of the matter is that health insurers are middlemen. Their goal is not to provide customers with health care, but to provide stockholders and owners with profit. Therefore they work very hard to maximize their income, by steadily increasing premiums, while minimizing their overhead in the form of payouts, using such tactics as denying claims, underpaying for goods and services, second-guessing doctor's decisions and even kicking people out of their coverage just when they need it the most. It's not that they're evil. They're simply businessmen, doing what all businesses do: make money. The real problem here is that they don't belong in that position. They're a mismatched component; an unnecessary element in a system that ends up being a monkey wrench in the works. Because they hold the purse strings, they're allowed to overrule the decisions of doctors and hospitals, and we, the "customers" have allowed this to happen.
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