Friday, February 01, 2008

American Health Care, And Politics In General

I'm a very political person. I have to be.

You see, I'm an Eagle Scout. It's like being a Marine. Once you join that club, you're pretty much always active duty.

In the course of earning my Eagle award, I had to earn three merit badges that ended up coloring my future life in permanent marker: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the World. When I went through the program, these were all required in order to get Eagle. No idea if that's still the case.

So...I know I have some international readers. I particularly want to hear in the comments from people in nations like Canada or Britain, which already have national health care. Because I'm listening to the Dem candidates, and I have to say that this is an issue where I disagree with both Clinton and Obama. They both seem to be trying to outdo each other on how we can nationalize health care fastest. And I just don't see the benefit...and after talking with my Canadian friends (all three or so of them) I am not encouraged that this is the way to go.

I am a thriving member of the evil capitalist entity that is America. I also am an active provider of social services here. I personally know people that are in the worst circumstances that it is possible to be in while still in America, and I have yet to meet anybody who has been unable to get medical treatment for themselves or their children. No, I'm not a Republican shill. I'm just stating the facts as I see them. I repeat: after about 2.5 years actively working in the social system in the US, I have yet to see a person rejected for ANY kind of health service, if they asked for it. This includes dental.

Makes me wonder why I pay for dental and health...until I realize that it's people like me who pay their bills religiously that allow these medical guys to do some freebies. It seems to be working out really well for our country, so I haven't argued.

But now we have people who would be our president telling us that they will gladly confiscate our money so that illegal aliens, along with my fellow citizens, can benefit from the many dollars I pay in taxes.

Call me a "nativist" if you must. Call me a conservative if you wish, though "conservative" has gotten to be a scapegoat term in recent years.

I actually LIKE GWB as president. At least with this guy, you know what to expect, am I right?
Anyway, I just needed to ask if my international readers (and I KNOW you're there, because I do check my referral logs) feel that nationalizing our healthcare is a thing you would recommend.

Other stuff? Well, I've been working with Mary...we'll see. The girl is just DEVIOUS. And I LIKE it. If I don't write a novel, I'm probably going to have to write a nonfiction book about how it is to try to adopt.


At 4:39 AM , Anonymous SB said...

I live in Germany and am a US citizen and lived in the US for most of my life. I am glad that you never have seen a person denied services, but I know at least six people in the US who were denied services because they did not have insurance or a credit card, or were told that they only way they could be treated was in an emergency room which could not deny them services. For things like strep throat. And this does not count all the people who are untreated for serious but not crisis problems because they cannot pay cash in advance or do not have insurance. I once spent three days calling every doctor in the midwest regional city where I lived attempting to get an appointment for a housemate without insurance, without cash, who needed to be seen. We were told by every single doctor to go to the emergency room. She might have been able to pay the cost of treatment from a doctor, if she had been trusted or allowed to pay in installments. But no one would see her. Once, when I tried to take advantage of something that was allegedly covered by the HMO I belonged to, I was asked on the phone how critical it was. When I admitted that it wasn't an emergency, they gave me an appointment: in eight months. By which time the condition required an intervention that would not have been necessary if they had caught it when I noticed it.

In Germany, the fiction is that everyone has insurance. Some people have the public policy, some people have private policies that cover more. In fact, that is not true, there are ways to squeak out of the requirement and ways to be forced out of one policy and not be able to get another (although that loophole is now supposedly closed) but the vast, vast majority of people, I am sure 98%, do. I have to say it is a huge relief, because unlike in the US I never have to worry about illness or its longterm consequences (in the US I was always afraid to use my insurance because the possibility of losing work with my current employer would mean that I could not get other insurance if I had a preexisting condition). I also know that everyone around me is being treated. I also know if I go to *any* doctor he or she has to treat me if he has space in his appointment book. And health care costs in Germany are 9% of GNP as opposed to 14% in the US, and the German economy, while plagued by high unemployment, most of which stems from the structural consequences of absorbing a huge defunct economy 20 years ago, nonetheless is continuing to grow. Yes, people in general pay more for policies--but not much more. The policy I have now, for example, costs significantly less than the last US policy I had and it covers more, including prophylactic care. And when I was acutely sick the last time, I received a house call, something unimaginable in the US. Its total cost (covered all but 20 Euros) was less than an office visit would have cost in the last place I lived in the US.

To me, it comes down to how humane we want to be. In my experience the US health system is not humane. But the fact that this is such a regional experience--that if you live in certain places it is friendlier than others--means that a national policy will never fly in the US. I don't criticize people who don't want a national insurance system--I just think their perspective is very limited, often to a range of about 200 mi around their own homes.

At 5:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what state you live in, but when I was in Colorado, even the poorest people couldn't get dental unless it was an emergency (unless they were children). Regular checkups, dentures, etc. -- not emergencies. Personally, I *can't* get insured, except through a job or through my state's high risk pool. I'm lucky to have found a job that offers insurance, as the high risk pool was way too expensive to join. For people who aren't the poorest of the poor but have pre-existing conditions, I suppose it probably is possible to get health care without insurance, but it might also mean lots of debt that would follow us around for the rest of our lives.

At 8:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is also very discouraging to see family members that are not given medical service. My mother would not go to a doctor because she could not afford the bill it would create. After my father died, she was working three part time jobs, none of which would/could supply insurance options.

Small town America limits the options for jobs, yet how do you move if you have lived your entire life there and raised your family there as well?

My point is that you may know people that do not visit a doctor because they cannot afford insurance, but they do not make a big deal out of it until the situation gets critical.

At 7:29 AM , Anonymous Loren said...

I'm a long-time lurker and appreciate your insight on foster care and adoption.

I guess you can get medical care if you don't mind claiming bankruptcy. See this article from early 2005.

At 10:44 AM , Blogger MJ said...

I too dont support national healthcare. I really think it would downgrade our system without some of the competetive nature of having it private. I do think there maybe more we can do to get more people insurance but we should be leaning on the insurance companies not the government to do this. In our state, there is an insurance that you pay based on your wage, step above medicaid and that has done wonders.


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