I love that graphic in the header–the look of Bernie laughing with that caption “Nobody Knew Health Care Could Be So Complicated”…yeah, a bit of a feelgood moment, but I digress.
Because healthcare is hard. More specifically, paying for the sonnofabitch is what’s so hard. We don’t have the economy we used to have, and the insurance system we used to have, and the system in place that made it work because the jobs are gone that fed the beast well.
And I don’t mean the damned Obamacare/ACA thing everybody wants to bitch about. We were going downhill long before that. I’m also a beneficiary (currently) of the ACA, without which my insurance premiums–even with the bare-bones coverage I have–would nearly be as much as my car note. But there’s a big difference between “access to coverage” and having actual coverage and piece of mind.
Oh, and being penalized on income taxes for not having insurance? That’s freaking stupid. And it wasn’t all that affordable for me because I had to decrease my coverage big time this year.
But I digress
Of course, all week long we’ve heard griping about the system and the current bill not going through, or how lousy it was, or how great it is that it didn’t go through. I also admit I’ve listened maybe 4 times to Dan Carlin’s episode of Common Sense #314: Unhealthy Numbers (I highly recommend a listen if you have an hour to spare on a car ride or something, download from iTunes, or just listen to it on the Common Sense webpage). Now, partway through I think he got his notes mixed up on GDP percentages, but got back on track, so bear with him if you give a listen.
What I liked about listening to it is it made me question what the hell we have in this country compared to others that have Universal Healthcare.
I can see the torches and pitchforks on the horizon, so yeah, I’ll make this quick.
The basic premise that got me thinking (and I’ll be doing more research later), is why we’re paying so much and getting so little in return, compared to other countries. Yes, people from other nations with national health care gripe and complain about their services, but if you offer our American system, the few Europeans I’ve met or talked with online back away like you’re Dracula and they’re going for the garlic wreath. Everybody is going to complain in some way, that’s natural, but like Carlin, I haven’t found anybody who’d trade me for my “healthcare.”
When coverage changes and some of it happens to be retroactive (that pisses me off BAD), and people have to go into bankruptcy to save a loved one’s life, or live as a pauper to make sure their kid gets life saving medication or surgery, then yeah, there’s a freaking big problem.
I’m not going to spend the rest of this post bitching about the catastro-phucks that are the “Obamacare” or the “Trumpcare/Ryancare/whoever’s-okay-to-put-their-name-on-it-care”. What I want to know with this awful, bullshit system we have, is there a way we could actually go from this (whatever you want to call it) to Universal Healthcare?
I mean, something has to change, and I’m fed up with being scared of getting sick. I’ve had sinus issues the past couple of weeks, major headaches that come and go with it, and for all I know I have an infection. With my barebones system (and no paycheck for another week), I really have to watch my pocketbook and am using what over-the-counter stuff I have to at least take the pain off and try to work through it. I can’t afford to visit this brand-new doctor I had to pick when I changed provider plans, even with a copay, and I definitely won’t be able to afford medications. I’m gonna have to rough it a little longer and take notes of my symptoms and hope for the best.
In my question #017, I asked who was really in charge of our health in this country. At the moment, I’m leaning toward insurance having the biggest pull on the rope.
But we’d have to find a way to transition between the system we have now to make sure Americans can live with peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of. I just can’t figure out how to do it.
There are many out there with far worse issues to contend with than myself. And it’s kinda scary how many problems there are in the medical industry. There’s so much crap around it, as in ways to fall through the cracks, pre-existing conditions, and billing errors when they finally see you in the hospital…grr.
As one of the people who used to argue that I didn’t really need much insurance because I was young and relatively healthy, I have to kick myself in the ass for such a short-sighted statement. Because one thing we can be sure of, unless we just drop dead right where we’re sitting right now, we’re going to get worse. Being “able-bodied” is a VERY temporary condition, and it hit me that I’d bought into that line of “don’t worry, you’re young.” I’ve had friends in their early 30s with heart issues, you can get a stroke just about any time if the conditions are right. It’s sobering to me when I think about this–and this tire I’ve been carrying around my middle and trying to lose the past 20 years probably means I’m gonna need more help if my new diet and exercise plans don’t pan out.
Our system does not give peace of mind. Even people who argue they have “great coverage” (like my dad) fret about something worse coming around the corner before the fiscal year’s out and the paperwork gets more complicated, like they’re hoping you slip up so they can deny you something.
We’re slaves to changes that we can’t keep up with regarding the insurance industry. And not all of us can afford lawyers to double and triple check everything written and sent out by an actual “life and death” service!
There are problems all up and down the line, and when we compare ourselves to other nations with national healthcare, we get so little for what we’re putting in, it seems. If we spend so much more, shouldn’t we have the best system ever invented? For some reason, our government thinks throwing money at a problem will make it better–health/sick care pretty well says “uh, no!”
I am one of those crazy people that firmly believes everyone should have healthcare, actual honest-to-goodness healthcare that’s not a scam. Sure, “Healthcare” isn’t in the bill of rights (as my dad likes to say), but “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is. I think everybody has the right to live, and actual healthcare would help.
I think a healthy population is the best thing we can do for ourselves, and our national budget everybody loves to fret over. Making it so that more doctor visits mean less expensive procedures and near-death experiences because we couldn’t afford to pay for the doctor when the warning signs were there (but we didn’t recognize them for what they were because we didn’t go to the doctor–sheesh, sounds like a chicken and the egg issue), that would be beneficial.
So, I’ve been pondering this all week. If we threw up our hands and said “this sucks, we ALL need proper health care and get rid of the insurance companies (or find something else for them to insure),” what would it take to do that? Okay, I HIGHLY DOUBT we could get rid of the insurance companies–they’ve dug in too deeply like ticks. But what else can we do, because trying to get them to play ball isn’t working.
It’s pretty sad when we supposedly live in the richest nation on the planet and our health and mortality numbers are so damned low.
Again, hypothetically, what would it take to (relatively) cleanly transition from our catastrophuck of a sick-care system to Universal Healthcare in the United States? I’d love to know if anybody else has pondered this idea and how it’d work.
2 thoughts on “#019–What would it take to go from our current hodgepodge of public & private “healthcare” to universal healthcare in the U.S.?”
The whole transition to a single-payer (universal) healthcare system is a slippery slope. As each problem is tackled, it puts the spotlight on another problem that no one previously knew was a problem. So many people are getting money up and down the system that it would require the shear will of the people (there’s more of us than them) to force legislation for a single-payer system. Taxes would go up, but we wouldn’t need to pay out ever increasing premiums to insurance companies. Insurance companies and big-pharma would lose the most, but if they played well, would certainly stay in business. I’m still on the fence about the government running our healthcare system as their track record with social programs of this size are far from stellar (social security, medicare/medicaid, veterans administration, etc.). There are so many conservatives out there that mistakenly believe that single-payer somehow reduces their freedoms in this country, but I believe that not having to worry about how to pay for someone (or you personally) getting sick grants us more freedom than being able to choose between a shitty or shittier healthcare plan. Our system is broken, no doubt about it, and any healthcare plan that falls short of single-payer is a disservice by the officials we’ve elected into office.
I could go on for hours on this subject btw 🙂