Sunday, March 28, 2010

Health CARE

So I know it's been a while since my last post. I'll admit that I got a bit busy trying to spread the word about my new book, "Zyxwold." But, due to popular demand, and topical relevancy, I've decided it's definitely time to say something again.

We've all heard recently about the new health care bill passed in the United States. We know that most Democrats embraced it and that all Republicans loathed it. And so, which side is correct?

I must caution you that I (like virtually any other person out there) do not know everything that is in the bill (especially the quirky clause about student loans, etc.). I do, however know this much:

This bill will require most people (that is, people who are earning more than some very minimal salary like about $15,000 per year) to buy health insurance over the course of the next couple of years. The cost of medical treatment without health insurance is more terrifying than the worst medical ailment you've ever heard of. It can cost thousands and thousands of dollars for a typical visit to the hospital for surgery or care of some equivalent level. Health insurance companies cover some of the cost so that individuals don't have to pay as much out of pocket. Therefore, by ensuring that all people are insured, we ensure that people can afford any medical care that they need. Most democrats seem to agree that this is a necessary safety net for people to have in case they suddenly get ill.

This all sounds wonderful at the surface, but there is something very disturbing lurking deep within the idea of requiring everyone to buy insurance. Some Republicans are arguing that this law is unconstitutional in that the Federal government is requiring people to buy something. Regardless of the constitutionality of it, one must wonder, is this a good idea at a time when people are already generally strapped for cash? What about the businesses that are already struggling and that must now find a way to pay for at least partial health insurance coverage for ALL of their employees? This seems like an especially large burden to those businesses that are reasonably small and that are still fighting off the larger ones.

The ultimate question is this: why should health insurance exist in the first place? And why would the Federal government MANDATE people to buy it? These insurance companies are FOR PROFIT. They don't even try to hide that fact from people; they are very upfront about it. So the government is MANDATING us to purchase something from a company whose ultimate goal is to REAP PROFITS! You don't need to be a mathematician to understand that if a company needs to have extra money that it can claim as profits, then it needs to bring in more money than if it weren't making profits. In other words, the government is requiring us to spend more money than we need to on health care, in order to take good care of health insurance companies.

Hence the idea behind the public option. While no one can ever be totally certain of what government monies are being spent on these days, at least in principle, a public option would mean something like health insurance by a non-profit company (the government). That should, in theory, be cheaper than the current law that has been passed.

Of course, another question is, why does medical treatment cost so much in the first place? How can other countries offer health care and prescription medication at much less cost than ours?

What it all boils down to is greed. Many people out there go into the medical profession not because they want to cure sick people, but because they want lots of money. And where else can they get so much money for their medical work than in the United States?

As the baby boomer generation ages and needs medical care more so than in the past, the market will naturally do what it has traditionally done in the past and cater to the baby boomers' needs. Because the baby boomers' health needs will only escalate as they grow older, chances are, we will be stuck with a focus on the medical industry for several more decades before the tides finally begin to turn again. Because everyone in the medical industry will profit so much from people's becoming ill, there will be few efforts supported along the lines of preventative medicine. Old and young people alike will be at the mercy of people in charge who want to keep them unhealthy.

I really do have to be fair, though. There are many medical professionals out there in America who take their work seriously and really do care about the patients they work with. If they really could find a cure for disease, then they would. These people are true heroes. If only more of the people in the American medical field were like them, then I know that our health care system would be excellent once again. Remember that it is, after all, called health CARE.