I went to a pretty good-sized rally just south of the convention yesterday. It was a rally for health care, and it was organized by the SEIU. Chuck D. spoke and performed, JIm Hightower spoke, and it reminded me just how backwards the thinking has been in this country for the last 30-40 years, since the neocon mindset seeped into our society.
Have you really listened to the arguments against a national health care plan at all? No, I mean REALLY listened to them? Well, I have all week, and I have to tell you, there is absolutely no valid argument against one; none whatsoever. The right to life and liberty are embedded in our Constitution, and the idea that anyone should have to die solely because they don’t have enough money to pay for health care should be absolutely offensive to everyone in this society.
Here’s the argument against (and I’m not making this up; I’ve heard it at least 20 times this week, from right wing talk show hosts, to self-proclaimed "Libertarians" on the street) in a nutshell:
"People should have access to health care, but why should the rest of us pay for someone else’s health care, when they make bad decisions?"
The answer’s simple, if you care to hear it.
"Because they pay for you, when you make a bad decision, you idiot!"
Where did this come from? This argument against universal health care
has to be the stupidest argument ever, and it shows a brazen
selfishness that should never be a basis for any government action in
Fully eighty percent of the population has health insurance, and their
employers pay most of the premiums every month. In addition to that, a
good portion of your tax money pays for Medicaid, which is health care
for the extremely poor, and 100% of people who have a job — including
those who are also paying health insurance premiums — pay Medicare
taxes. Not only that, but a significant portion of homeowners insurance and auto insurance premiums go to pay for the health care of those
And here’s the funny part; the part the neocons don’t grasp, apparently.
You see, wingnuts, insurance is, at its heart, a socialist enterprise. Every working person in this country puts money into the pool, and those with private insurance, or those who are covered by government insurance, take out whatever they need from the system. I include private insurance in that, as well. See, in order for you to believe that YOUR MONEY is what pays for your extensive medical treatment when you get really sick, you have to be dumb enough to believe that the money you paid in insurance premiums suddenly sprouted into, say $100,000 overnight. It doesn’t. When you get sick, you right wing moron, SOMEONE ELSE’S MONEY pays for your operation.
The average family pays upwards of $14,000 per year for health insurance, including private insurance premiums and Medicare taxes. If we had a national, single payer health care plan, that amount could be reduced by as much as two-thirds. Not only that, but even though you pay so much per year, if you lose your job, you lose your coverage, unless you can afford to continue the monthly premiums with no income.
See, here’s the disconnect, folks. We are currently treating health care as if it’s a market-based industry, and it’s not. You don’t choose when you get sick, or when you need a doctor. It’s also insane that we can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into the system over many years, and lose all coverage if we lose a job, or if our employer decides they can’t afford to provide coverage any longer.
If your life is in danger, you are entitled to care. It IS a basic human right. It is also mandated in the oath that all health care workers take when they become doctors or nurses. In other words, we pay for the very sick, whether we like it or not. Yet, private insurance companies won’t allow them to pay into the system. People who are likely to need health care at some point are actually FORBIDDEN from paying into the system, thus increasing the costs for those of us with insurance.
Our system makes no economic sense at all. Private insurance companies don’t care about care, they only care about the bottom line. They are naturally risk-averse, and because their financial interests are based on quarterly and annual results, they have little or no interest in the long term. They deny insurance to people who might cost them money, they deny procedures they deem to be too be too expensive, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about whether or not medical corporations lose money, because they are more than ready to absorb necessary cost increases by increasing premiums.
By far, we spend more money per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation, despite the fact that 47 million people can’t go to a doctor until they’re at risk for death. This is the only nation in the world in which people are turned away for medical care because they have no insurance, and they’re deemed "not sick enough." This is the only nation in the world wherein someone in a family can get sick and the entire family can lose everything they have worked for for decades. The number one cause of bankruptcy in this country is inability to pay medical bills.
All of the above is shameful, and we have to fix it. Health care is a basic human right, and not some sort of privilege for the lucky few. And our current health care system is also economically unfeasible. There is a point, and it is drawing near, where employers will simply have to drop coverage en masse. The larger the pool of uninsured gets, the higher premiums will go, and the higher premiums go, the more people will go without insurance. Critical mass is upon us, and we have to stop pretending that health care can be sold as a market-based system, because it’s not.
Every other industrialized nation in the world has a universal health care system, including the 36 industrialized nations with better health statistics than we have. It’s time we joined the 21st century, and stopped acting like wingnuts.
We should be ashamed at not ensuring the right to basic health care for everyone in this country.