I’m not usually a downer; I’m really not. but there’s a sign that the Democrats may not be any better on health care than the Republicans have been over the past half century or so.
See, if you haven’t noticed, we need a new health care financing system in this country, and we need it bad. see, the problem stems from the fact that we treat health care the same way we treat consumer goods, and that’s just plain stupid, folks. You don’t know when you are going to need health care, and that’s true whether you’re 1 year old or 100 years old. Anyone can be walking along having a great time, and be struck by staellite debris, or a heart attack — it’s not possible to plan for it, and it’s not possible to save for it, because there is no way you can possibly know how much anything will cost when it happens.
So, everyone who can carries health insurance.
The problem is, the insurance is private health insurance, so payment for your health care is in the hands of people whose main purpose is to keep as much of the money they receive as possible. Their goal is to maximize their profits, not your health care. There is nothing wrong with profits, of course, except for the fact that, as I said, health care is not a consumer product.
Health insurance companies have become the greatest obstacle to good, reliable and universal health care in this country. You see, their goal is profits, so naturally, they try to only sell policies to those people who are least likely to use them. And even if you are lucky enough to get a policy, their natural tendency is to work their asses off to get out of paying for your health care when you need it.
So, we’re left with a health care finance system that is the dumbest damn system ever created. Almost all money used to pay hospitals and doctors comes from the insurance pool. And yet, about 20% of the population doesn’t pay into that pool. What makes matters worse, most of those people who are not allowed to pay into the pool are those who are most likely to get sick in the first place. Keep in mind; a large number of these people can’t get insurance because they’re not healthy. But they are still entitled to medical care at some point, so they go to urgent care or the ER, and they get treated. Or their health situation becomes so bad that they are given extremely expensive intensive care, because they didn’t have the money or insurance to get them to a doctor while they were sick. And since the hospitals and doctors don’t get paid by these people, they have to raise their charges the next year, to cover those costs. This causes these private insurance companies to raise the premiums for those of us who aren’t sick, which in turn makes it more difficult for more people to afford health insurance, which increases the odds that more people without insurance will get sick or injured… it’s a spiral that is out of control.
There is only one solution to this problem, and that is non-profit, single-payer health insurance for all people, that covers basic and catastrophic health care. And it is simply not possible or practical for private insurance companies to provide this. It has to be provided by a non-profit agency that is more interested in the health outcome than the bottom line. Every other industrialized nation on the planet has this, and it works quite well for them. None of the systems are perfect, of course, but we’re Americans; we can do it better, right?
Unfortunately, the change needs political will, and our politicians have no stones to speak of. With the serious decline of the right wing, I was hoping the Democrats would have the balls to be bold, and offer some serious health care financing reform.
Then I read this article in this morning’s New York Times.
Tell me this isn’t depressing:
drug makers, doctors and insurers gave candidates in both parties more
than $11 million in the first nine months of this year, according to an
analysis of campaign finance records done for The New York Times by the
Center for Responsive Politics, an independent group that tracks
In all, the Democratic presidential candidates have raised about
$6.5 million from the industry, compared with nearly $4.8 million for
the Republican candidates. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
of New York has amassed the most of any candidate, even as she calls
for changes to the health care system that could pose serious financial
challenges to private insurers, drug companies and other sectors.
Now, what are the odds that someone who is receiving significant money from all of the above are going to lead the way when it comes to major reform that will eliminate one of them completely, and reduce the astronomical profits the rest receive in the current market, when she’s received that sort of boost from those people.
We still have to vote in Democrats, folks; we have to get rid of the current incarnation of the GOP, and force them to rid themselves of the right wing cabal that has taken over their party. But we are going to have to work our asses off to make sure three things happen after they take office;
1. They have to end the Iraq occupation. That almost goes without saying.
2. They have to enact serious campaign finance reform. I’m not in favor of public financing, because it’s too much like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house. But here’s the reform I do propose: a $3000 limit on any contribution from any entity to any campaign or party within one election cycle. And all contributions must go directly from the donor to the campaign; no check collecting. And all donations should have to go through a clearinghouse, so that the candidate or party doesn’t even know where it came from.
3. Single-payer health care. period. No pussy-footing around. it is simply not realistic to expect for-profit insurance companies to provide universal health coverage with no strings attached to everyone. it’s not fair to their shareholders or them.
We have a major obstacle to overcome when the Democrats take over in January 2009, folks… we’d better get started.