Thursday, September 24, 2009

Death by Insufficiency

Fact is that no health insurance plan is going to work as well as we want. There will always be something to criticize. So whatever side you may be on in connection with the national health insurance debate, well you’re going to be right, and you are going to be wrong.

This week, in the Republican response to the President’s healthcare speech, North Carolina Congresswoman Susan Myrick noted: “Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew something was wrong with my body – but it took six doctors, three mammograms and one ultrasound before they finally they found my cancer. This process took only a few weeks…. Under the government-run healthcare system they have in Canada and the United Kingdom, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get those tests so quickly. One international study found that three times as many citizens in those countries wait longer than a month to see a specialist. When it comes to life-threatening diseases like cancer, delay could mean death.”

Valid point Sue, but you are criticizing someone else’s healthcare system, you are making assumptions that did not in fact take place (you actually didn’t apply to a Canadian or UK system for a diagnosis)… and most of all, you could afford health insurance. Fact is that our elected representatives in Washington have some of the best health insurance in the land. Of the 46.3 million Americans who don’t have such insurance, probably 30 million actually can’t afford to get coverage. What do you say to the person whose pre-existing conditions put healthcare insurance out of reach? Or someone who has capped out on the lifetime maximum benefits? Or someone whose insurance company just terminated them because they were costing too much?

Most importantly, what do you tell the families of the approximately 45,000 Americans who die every year because their ailments didn’t get the needed treatment because they didn’t have health insurance? According to a report issued on September 17th by a Harvard University-based research group – "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," in the American Journal of Public Health – that’s the number, and it is rising rapidly (double the number of such deaths as reported in 2002). Fact is that there is 40% higher risk of death if you don’t have healthcare coverage.

Small businesses are dropping health insurance benefits simply because it costs too much. People are watching premiums skyrocket, even in recession times, but these costs have been accelerating well beyond the average annual cost of living for decades. The ranks of the uninsured are swelling at an alarming rate. To support the continuation of the current healthcare system in this country is both heartless and avoids dealing with who really stands to gain as we debate these issues. Insurance companies and for profit medical businesses love the ability to extract profits from an industry that generates 16% of our GDP, even if a few folks have to die or suffer. Do you think GM and Chrysler would have gone out of business if they didn’t have to pay the massive healthcare benefits they agreed to in their collective bargaining agreements they negotiated back when business was good?

Big health insurance companies don’t oppose mandatory health insurance for every American, even if some of that is government subsidized. As long as it goes through them. If the government requires everyone to have health insurance, and the only providers are the big insurance companies, I would consider the healthcare insurance industry to be a huge growth business, with massive new profits being shoved in their direction from the shipload of new customers that the government is forcing in their direction. Why do I get the feeling that this is not the best method of containing costs? And remember, big businesses (16% of the GDP!) finance a lot of political campaigns. Don’t believe everything you hear from a politician who got elected with sizeable campaign contributions from the healthcare industry… Oh, almost of them did. Oh well…. It’s the American way.

I’m Peter Dekom, and I approve this message.

No comments: