Sunday, December 13, 2009

Health Care?

I hear people say that they don't want nationalized health care for a couple of reasons. The first is that they're afraid it will make everyone's health care more expensive and the second is that it will cause us to wait for medical procedures. I also have heard people say that any American who really needs health care will get it now anyway. To those deluded people who believe that, I say WAKE UP.

I really think the biggest reason people are so busy fighting against nationalize health care is the big letter S.

This country currently spends more money on health care than any other country. Do we have healthier, longer lives? No, we do not. Does everyone get the health care they need to stay healthy productive members of society? No, they do not. Do we currently end up paying for unhealthy Americans? Yes, we do.

Every day I work with people who do not have adequate health care coverage. Ask them about waiting for a procedure. They wait because they can't get in to see a doctor. They can go to emergency departments if they have wait long enough for their problem to become an emergency. But emergency departments are not emergency-and-ongoing-care departments. Do you expect that the care provided to uninsured people in the ER is paid for by the money faeries? That cost is spread out across all our health care costs and we end up paying the most expensive rates possible. And any plumber knows that it costs less to prevent a problem than it does to fix it. That goes for doctors, too.

God forbid that someone with a mental illness doesn't have insurance or money. That person is likely to end up on the street or in jail. It's expensive to keep people in jail, not to mention inhumane when we're talking about someone who's there because of an illness. Surely support and medication are less expensive than incarcerating or having ill Americans end up on the street. Yet what have we done? We've eliminated psychiatric hospitals, wings, and hospital beds. We've cut budgets for outpatient clinics. All of us share in the cost of homelessness in this country, too, but I think that's another column completely.

We have said, in effect, we don't care about you if you don't have health care benefits and we are too selfish to let you have it. We are too afraid of the big letter S, as in socialized medicine, to look at you.

The word Socialism bothers some people. The words Selfishness and Shame bother me more.

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