Sunday, July 12, 2009

Healthcare: Simple or Complicated?

The concept of universal health is amazingly simple.
So, why is it that our national discussion is getting so complicated?
Do you think money -big money- has anything to do with it?
It seems there are powerful interests who really don't want to see the status quo changed at all, unless it benefits them.

But, self-serving resistance to change isn't exactly new, is it?
The real question is 'who is to be served'?
And, health care-wise, the priority needs to be all Americans.
Period. End of story.

It is a national embarrassment and tragedy that the USA hasn't got an effective health care program.
In my mind, only three things are absolutely critical;

• everyone is covered
• a public health plan option is required
• a reasonable method of determining 'levels of service' and financing is needed

None of these are simple, but since when are complications not expected?
And, many folks think some other things are also critically important, too.

Cutting through all the excuses for non-action, delay and watering down, a recent letter to the editor got it right:
It addressed our elected members of Congress, cited the fact that they all had excellent US government health plans, and requested the same for all citizens.
If that's too rich, then let's have a talk.
That seems pretty simple approach too, doesn't it?

Soon, all the proposals, concerns and discussion will begin to get more serious.
That usually happens once Congress agrees to something that may be voted upon.
That is also the time when all the arrayed opposition comes together with a concerted attack designed to instill doubt, plead too expensive, engender fear, and spread deliberate misinformation.

Can't wait for that spectacle, can you?
One can only hope that our elected officials have the courage to do what they have needed to do for so long.

Here are two links to recent articles on this subject:

A Bill Moyers interview about 'the Select Few'.

A NY Times collection of three pro & con arguments.

A final thought:
I have been blessed with two things for most of my life; good health and good jobs that provided me and my family with excellent health care coverage.
There are many people who have not been nearly so fortunate.

When I last retired and became reliant on Medicare as my my primary health care provider, it was with a combination of uniformed doubt and trepidation.
The doubt was based upon my own ignorance.
The fear was based upon what I thought was to be the frustration of dealing with a large government bureaucracy with complicated rules, procedures and complicated paperwork.
You know, like the IRS.

I was wrong.
Medicare has proven to be the least complicated health care system I have dealt with!
And, that is despite the fact that my health care needs have been greater during the past year than at any time of my life.
So, I have become a believer in Medicare and in the government's ability to manage such a program with efficiency, simplicity and fairness.
I'm sure there will be other things for me to learn, but so far, the use of my expensive secondary health insurance has been negligible.
So, don't worry you private health insurance providers; I'll still pay your premiums, but won't likely submit nearly as many claims.
That alone ought to help keep the existing private health care system profitable!

And, I know there are many others who feel the same way I used to about Medicare, as well as about the government's ability to sustainably finance such a system for everyone.
I believe those fears are legitimate, but will also prove false -providing our elected representatives decide to stand up to the pressures of the lobbyists for the status quo.

There are few things more important than our health, and no method is more effective than preventative care, which any universal health care program should emphasize and reward.
I am confident that America will 'do the right thing' as Winston Churchill once said - after it has tried every other course of action!
I hope I'm wrong about that last part.

But, the concept is simple and we deserve it, both as a nation and as individuals.