The founding fathers of America were a pretty shrewd bunch. The contents of the declaration of independence are evidence of this, as is the American Constitution. In recent months there has been a resurgence of interest in trying to establish an American universal health care system, and it got me wondering, Are there not provisions in the constitution for just that?
"WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I thought I remembered it right. But then I read an article by Stephen F. Gambescia, an associate professor of health services administration at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions. To quote him:
"...Critics eschewing government interference into the health-care enterprise correctly emphasize that no one has an explicit constitutional right to health care. It is, however, fair to quote its Preamble; our duty to 'promote the general welfare' encompasses health-care opportunity. Indeed, the healthier we are, the more likely we are able (both as individuals and as groups) to 'form a more perfect union, establish justice, and provide for the common defense.' Keeping people healthy carries a big payoff!..."
So, social welfare isn't in the constitution. It only precedes it by a page. Such a lapse in forethought by our founding fathers has set the stage for the next big revolution in the United States, The Universal Health Care War. The public is properly prepared, the new Michael Moore movie Sicko has delineated the facts on the topic and created a stir across this nation. With presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle discussing Universal Health Care like a real possibility, it is time to publish the first articles of war as they will pertain to the following engagement.
Many of you may think I am joking. I assure you, I am not. The business of medical insurance is a massive army of separate corporations. Each of those corporations is a legal entity, with rights and lawyers. It may seem odd to think of a faceless corporation as an entity, but legally that is the case. How do you fight such a beast? Luckily we have the upper hand in several ways. One, we are people, not just legal entities, and we are in control of the weapon that will win this war, namely our dollars. But first let's examine our reasons for going to war.
For a proper education simply see the movie Sicko and talk to friends. As a doctor, who has had more than a few fights with insurance companies, I can tell you Michael Moore has not exaggerated in the least. Let me just point out some incredible mistakes made by the detractors of Universal Heath Care. Universal Health Care opponents have said, "We don't want a system like Canada, they have so many problems with their system." To them I say you're right. Canada does have a lot of problems. All I have to do is look at their ranking according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and see that Canada came in 30th. But then I have to point out, we came in 37th, so Canada is still doing better than we are! Then there are those who say, "Michael Moore shouldn't have taken those people to Cuba, and how dare he compare our health care system to their system. After all they ranked 39th by the WHO." And to them I say, again, you're right. But Cuba is closer to us in ranking than we are to Canada. I think the real question should be, WHY ARE WE NOT EVEN IN THE TOP TEN?
Included in the analysis that lead to us being ranked 37th are such things as responsiveness, fairness in economic contribution, and overall health status. Well, with an ambulance on nearly every street corner, it should come to no one's surprise that we ranked #1 on level of responsiveness. With all the buzz on how much we Americans spend on health care neither should we be surprised that we spend more than every other country on the planet. But I'm willing to bet that most Americans would be appalled to discover that we ranked 72nd on overall health status. So let me sum this up: we spend more than any other country, but our health is on a par with such countries as; #75 Argentina (overall health ranked 71), #124 Bhutan (overall health ranked 73), and # 103 Iraq (overall health ranked 75). I assume that Iraq's ranking was from before we bombed the crap out of them. Oh God, I hope so!
It should be noted that all the countries above us in ranking have Universal Health Care. All of them deliver health care cheaper than we do, and have a better health status ranking. To quote Bart Simpson "I wouldn't have thought it possible, but this both sucks and blows." So, it seems bloody obvious that we need to pursue Universal health care. But I don't believe we will ever see Universal Health Care in the United States so long as the health insurance industry is profitable. By definition this means we are at war. Our implements of war include our votes, our voices and our money. First campaign of this war has already started. Every red blooded American should urge their mayor, district supervisor, governor, and senator to support bill HR 676 which guarantees Universal Health Care for all by expanding the Medicare program to cover everyone. Whew, that was easy. All done... Okay, I lied. But then you knew that. No war is that easy, and this one is no exception. Our next battle begins when HR 676 has signally failed. And it will fail because every insurance company is already fighting this war tooth and nail. You see it in every slanted commentary about socialized medicine, and in every attempt to look benevolent. Sure, for a short period of time they may ease up on medical restrictions, but in the long run they would rather see you die than give up one thin dime. Just ask everyone you know about their insurance fiascos. It's just not that hard to figure out. Detractors to HR 676 are want to ask, "How are going to pay for it?" Which is a good question. Answer, by not paying the for profit-health-insurance industry to steal from us. "Steal, you say?" Yeah, steal. Let me support my claim with some excerpts from the news:
PacifiCare fined record $3.5 million Sacramento Bee, Jan. 30, 2008
"... • A Sacramento-area surgeon couldn't schedule surgeries for more than six months because the insurer was slow to enter his contract in its computer system.
• More than 200 of Watson's patients incorrectly received letters indicating that he was no longer in the insurer's network of physicians. Watson lost about 25 percent of these patients but continued to see others without getting paid for about eight months.
• A consumer spent 11 months trying to get claims paid for his family, including an autistic child. His wife postponed EKG stress tests, fearing the family could be forced to pay for the procedures. Regulators contend PacifiCare never specified what information was needed to reconsider the denied claims..."
Health Net fined $1M over policy-cancellation probe Sacramento Business Journal, Friday, November 16, 2007
"...The state has been investigating health plans since 2005 amid questions about whether they illegally rescinded health policies without proving that those covered willfully misrepresented themselves on their applications. The questions have been highlighted by a lawsuit filed by a California breast cancer patient whose coverage was canceled by Health Net during her treatment...".
"... State investigators asked on Oct. 17 and on Nov, 6 whether Health Net had compensation or bonus programs that were connected to rescinding coverage and were told it did not, according to DMHC. On Nov. 8, documents produced in connection with a lawsuit against Health Net proved that it had such policies..."