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Fire Departments and Health Care

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Imagine for a moment that our public fire departments were privatized.

 

Imagine that you needed a special insurance policy before calling the fire department in an emergency, or you'd have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for the firefighters to put out the fire.

 

Instead of calling 911 for the nearest neighborhood fire department, you'd call whichever fire department is in your insurance plan, even if it's across town or miles away. You might have to call your 'Fire Protection Insurance Company' or 'Fire Protection Management Organization' for approval.

 

Depending on your fire protection insurance plan, the fire department might tell you they can put out the fire in your living room and bedroom, but not the kitchen or the garage... unless you pay an additional out-of-pocket fee.

 

An insurance company agent might tell you that they won't pay for a fire department to put out a fire, because your house has a 'prior condition' or is too old or in a high-risk area.

 

If you don't have coverage and don't want to pay an expensive out-of-pocket fee, you might try to put out the blaze yourself, or just let your house burn. The fire might spread to other houses in your neighborhood. An uninsured neighbor's housefire might spread to your own house.

 

Imagine that you complained to your US Senators and Representatives that the system doesn't work, that over 45 million Americans can't afford 'fire department coverage' and millions more have inadequate plans, that thousands are losing their homes every year, and maybe your own home has been damaged. And your Senators and Representatives replied that we can't have fire departments that are publicly owned and paid for with our tax dollars because that would be socialism. Even though public fire departments would be far cheaper and save lives and property, moving to a public plan would cause insurance companies to lose lots of money, and we can't have that.

 

Insurance companies would spend millions of dollars in political contributions to make sure that fire departments remain under their control. They'd hire PR firms and place ads on TV and in newspapers to convince you of the wonderful job they're doing, telling you how public fire protection is a radical idea, un-American, too expensive, inferior in the services they’d provide, etc.

 

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Scott McLarty has served as media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States and for the DC Statehood Green Party. He has had articles, guest columns, and book reviews published in Roll Call, CommonDreams.org, Z Magazine, Green Horizon, (more...)
 

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