Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Hijack

I've stayed away from the political commentary, partly because it's just a bit of a relief to do so (for me, as I suspect, it is for you). The recent shenanigans surrounding the health care debate concerns me on a couple of points:
  1. Rush Limbaugh town hall tactics. Come on. We saw this tactic used during the 2000 election process in Florida. Scream, yell, and don't let anyone explain themselves. You have free speech, but what you don't seem to understand is that gives everyone else the right to speak too. By screaming over anyone you don't agree with, you are actually denying everyone else in the space their right to give their opinion. We have perhaps the first actual debate on health care in this country in my lifetime, and you're going to scream over anyone you disagree with?
  2. End of life care. As someone with an 86 year old mother who is very concerned with end of life care, I can state categorically that this has to do with more choice rather than less. It is not a rubber stamp for euthanasia. It is an open discussion on whether replacing a kidney in a 95 year old person is really a great idea (hint: it's not, for either the person who would otherwise receive the kidney nor for the elderly recipient). In fact, I'll go on record saying that we need more doctors who understand the needs of elderly patients rather than just throwing meds at them. After having my mother go to both types of doctors, there's no question which I'd choose for myself or anyone I loved. We freak out about end of life because we think that death is a bad thing. In many cases, it is, but at the same time we're all going sometime, and no one is making you face that fact. Having the option to is valuable, no matter what you think is going to happen after you cross over.
  3. Government interference. The only people who could possibly be complaining about this are people who don't understand how the system works. We've got rooms of people complaining they don't want the government involved, only to raise their hands when asked if anyone is on Medicare (a government program). And while there are good HMOs, we should remember that every problem posed by those seeking to avoid "socialized" medicine is extant in the current system. Faceless bureaucrats are faceless bureaucrats, whether working in the government or in a corporation. The biggest thing that single payer brings is that you can't be denied or dropped from coverage because you've gotten too sick. And, of course, how much longer do you think the current system can limp along? Would you rather replace it *after* it's collapsed, because that sort of thing always goes well - think the Katrina aftermath.
The truth is that health care as we know it hasn't been in place for 25 years since HMOs took over deciding who gets what care. We keep thinking it's the same, right up until we no longer get insurance through our work (and even then, I pay nearly $400/mo as my personal premium for my wife's work-supplied health care). We had insurance for a few months that wasn't related to her work, and it was a disaster - we paid everything out of pocket and never got anything from our premiums.

Given the economy, businesses are cutting everywhere they can, and the last thing to go is usually health care insurance, but they're at that point. The system simply can't support itself any longer and we have to change. Whatever we choose won't be perfect, there will be unanticipated problems, people who are unhappy things are different (many of them currently getting bonuses for denying care). Really, though, compared to where we are now can it be *that* much worse? Compared to what health care will look like in ten years with no changes (say hello to the ER, everyone!), could it be *any* worse?

So please, those of you currently shouting down any and all dissenting opinion, please stop. You can give your opinion, but do so in a civilized fashion instead of behaving like a spoiled child. By continuing this behavior, you and your compatriots risk looking like birthers, flat-earthers, and alien abductees. In fact, you already do. Thought you'd want to know. Do let me know if your anal probes were covered by your HMO, though...

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