Friday, August 14, 2009

It's healthcare, stupid

I was contemplating posting a little something about the US health care debate. Then I read on ArtBiz blog here that emailing people with my health care views was a big no-no. She has a point about the abuse of mailing lists and not abusing people who signed up to read about art with unsolicited personal views.

But I am deciding that this does not apply to me because:

1. If you are still reading me after all this time, I assume you signed up to read whatever garbage spills out of my brain with the hope that fabrics will feature frequently but not constantly. They usually do and here are some to soften the blow of the middle of this post. This is what I dyed on my playcation.

2. I have no personal view. I have a deep, deep void of understanding.

This is because all my information on Obama's proposed reforms come from newsbite shots of people abusing senators which I only half watched because I was blogging at the time anyway. And this article in the Times today which US readers might find interesting. So maybe someone wants to fill me in on what the debate actually is. Because from here it looks like this:
(a) the US has a purely insurance based system
(b )this works so well that artists have to set up sites like Hearts for Anna to get treatment for a woman with breast cancer and other bloggers I have read have lost jobs and been without any health care at all which has understandably been a worry for them.
(c) the proposal is for a system that provides care for all
(d) people don't want it.
Dennis is a politically educated person. US politics included. I have just asked him. He says he doesn't have any comprehension either. Please, someone inform us in neutral terms what the problem is!

Meanwhile I am not going to worry about it. I am going to play with some of my birthday presents.


Quilt Pixie said...

oooo when you find out why people are upset in the US re health please do let the rest of us non-US citizens who are tired of the tirade know the info too -- I'd love to understand what the problem is as it just doesn't make sense to me either. But not enough to listen to the tirades....

Love that loot -- look like some great reading material has been collected. :-)

Evelyn said...

I don't get it either! But here are some arguments I've seen:

- If we give healthcare to everyone, then people will not be motivated to get a job, in order to get insurance through their employer. [As if needing insurance is the primary motivation for having a job!]

- People don't want government involved in healthcare, because they think the government would "ration" it and deny it to "less worthy" people. [As if insurance companies don't already ration care! And is if the government isn't already involved in healthcare, with Medicare and Medicaid!]

- They think the quality of healthcare will go down, because you know, if it's free, it must suck. Or they've heard an anecdote about their Uncle Fred's barber's niece, who had a bad experience trying to see a doctor while on vacation in Canada - so therefore socialized medicine must not work!

- They think the cost to everyone will go up (higher taxes). [As if we're not already paying for it, one way or the other!]

I'm sure there are others. It just makes me crazy thinking about it. Must go make a nice cup of tea now...

Vicki W said...

1 - Americans, in general, are not ever in favor of the Government running anything. The postal service is bankrupt, social security is bankrupt, medicare is almost bankrupt. They don't have a great track record there.
2 - They are trying to sell it as options but a close read of the bill makes it clear that the long term goal is a socialized system.
3 - 80% of Americans are happy with the insurance they have
4 - The plan marketing implies that it will cover all of the 45 million uninsured but it will really only add about 16 million to the pool of insured for an incredibly exorbitant cost.
5 - The proposed plan does absolutely nothing to reform the tort system which is now referred to as the free money lottery system. Punitive damages are out of control.
6 - The Office of Management and Budget has analyzed the plan and estimates that the plan will run over a $7 TRILLION deficit in 10 years, it will bankrupt the country
7 - because of the cost it would naturally impose rationing - much greater than anything the insurance companies do today. We are not willing to accept waiting 3 months for an MRI, 6 months for surgery or not have a bed available in a hospital for emergency service.

That's just part of the problem.

It's not that people are opposed to healthcare reform. We do need healthcare reform but it
1 - needs to address tort reform
2 - truly allow people and businesses to continue their current plans. The current proposal only allows grandfathering of existing people in existing plans. New employees would be out in the public option.
3 - keep the government out of it. period.

Gretchen said...

I live in the US and I don't understand it any better than you!I don't understand what is so horrible about letting people have the choice of whether they want to continue with what they have or have a public (ie: government option). That's all it is A CHOICE!

Oh and help all the people out of work, those who can't get private insurance because of the cost or they are denied, and those who can't afford their employer-based insurance.

I have health insurance through my job but I want a public option because I trust the government more than I trust insurance companies out there to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. Unfortunately reasonable, civil discussion is not as "exciting" or "newsworthy" as the angry mobs. The whole thing makes me crazy, especially the protesters who have Medicare!!!!!

Kristin L said...

I'm American and I'm clueless too. Although, I think commenter Evelyn may be on to something.

I happen to be one of the 80% that Vicky mentions who is happy with her health care. Of course, my coverage and treatment is through the US Army and so is essentially government run.

Yes the plans in congress need more work, and tort reform should definitely be addressed. Hopefully there is time to do so before the baby gets thrown out with the bath water.

Oh, and for the supposed death panels, here's my OPINION: Supposedly a huge chunk of health care money is spent on extending the life of the elderly and terminally ill. Some may want heroic measures taken to the very end, others may not. That is a personal decision to be made with family and one's health care professional. Of course, if one's health care professional doesn't get reimbursed for the time spent in these kinds of consultations, then they probably won't take place. Therefore no one would know which way the patient wants to be treated and, by default, the more extensive/expensive route would most likely be taken.

Diana said...

The main thing to know is that most of the fight against health care reform is being financed and led by for-profit health insurance companies who fear losing their cash cow when the government steps in. They are spending millions of dollars A DAY in an effort to defeat any sort of reform of the system.

Conservative politicians are against it because they are against anything Obama is for, and they are quite happy to admit this.

The conservation press, conservative politicians, and the special interest groups have stirred up lots of people because they have spread lies and scared people about what the various proposals entail. One current lie is that this proposed legislation will lead to the government euthanizing the old, the sick, and the handicapped.

The fact is that in the U.S. unless you work for a fairly large company, you probably do not have any health coverage. Small businesses simply cannot afford it.

The cost of health insurance rises each year and will continue to rise until only the wealthy will be able to afford it.

Insurance companies routinely "drop" people who develop serious health issues or simply refuse to insure those who have what is called "pre-existing" conditions because patients of that sort cost them too much money.

62% of U.S. personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills that people can't pay.

This issue calls for serious informed debate, but so much misinformation and foolishness has been thrown around that people have become confused and frightened.

Now I need to make a cup of tea so I can calm down.

Feather on a Wire said...

I've just come back from visiting a friend here in the UK was has just had surgery privately. Another friend visited who had the same surgery on the National Health Service a couple of years ago. The difference? One chose her surgeon and had a nice room with views over fields, as her visitor I was given tea and cakes in nice china. The other didn't have the extras but both will survive and this is good. One shouldn't have to be rich to receive good medicine, not should one think because you have more that you are entitled to live and be healthy more than a poor person. Health should be a right in the same way as education.

Kay said...

Americans have been brainwashed over the years since the Reagan administration that the government does nothing right. Never mind that people with Medicare are satisfied with it. Many Americans also believe that all taxes are bad, all the time. Put these two things together and you get: 1. blind, ignorant panic that "socialism" is coming, and incompetent socialism at that, and 2.increasing deficits and bankrupt programs since taxes must never, ever, be raised. Add poorly informed media which covers the "action" instead of the facts, thousands of lobbyists, a gullible public and you see the result.

That was a rant. Now some rationality. To be fair, President Obama has probably not sold his program as well as he should have. He left it to Congress to draw up the bill, and they're slow and having trouble reaching consensus. Did you know there is really no health care plan yet to be for or against? There's only the House of Representatives version (the Senate hasn't passed one, and when they do, the two bills must be made to agree) Much of the "debate" is based on many rumors, lies, and misinformation.

If you read through this, thanks!

sophie said...

A coworker and I had an interesting discussion today about the extent we believe the protests are actually about health care and whether or not if the republicans were the ones with the health are initiative, the democrats would be resorting to the same sorts of tactics to block it.

From my perspective, there is much to praise (the level of science) and criticize (the number of people without access) health care in the US . . . but sadly, I'm not sure the political climate surrounding the discussion at the moment has much to do with either of those.

I lived and worked in France a couple decades ago and Americans still beat me up when I'm asked to compare my life there with here and I mention the differences in health care systems and count it as a minus for the US.

(And no, I can't explain why that is still true.)

Di said...

As an outsider looking in re the American health debate I'm with a couple of your commentators. I don't understand it. I've tried but failed. Also it's obvious the fight against reform is being led by the health insurance companies who have a vested interest in the matter.

What wonderful goodies you received for your birthday. I noticed a couple of Johnny Cash CDs tucked away there. I'm a Johnny Cash fan but it was only a week or so ago when I was devoid of any inspiration, or if I am truthful, too lazy to get off my butt and get some serious sewing done, that I was flicking through the digital TV channels and came across a programme showing Johnny Cash doing a concert in San Quentin. It inspired me to dig out my JC CDs and have a good listen. Great stuff. The books look very tempting too.

Terry said...

You got the basics of the dispute from other commenters. I will simply add that what we have now is an all or nothing system--good insurance from your employer or basically nothing if you are unemployed or work for a small business or part time or yourself. (Unless you want to pay a small fortune for indvidual, minimal insurance as we do) Of course it works fine for those who have insurance, but they are in denial about how tenuous their own situations are. Something has to change, in my opinion. I support a national healthcare plan and hope it goes through and quickly!

Thanks for posting the video link. Very interesting. I am sickened by the dishonest tactics of the opposition.

Helen said...

Vicki W says 80% of Americans are happy with the insurance they have. Surely she means 80% of "insured" Americans are happy with the insurance they have. That's probably because they HAVE insurance! Bad luck if you don't!!

Margeeth said...

Hey Helen, I keep reading your blog because laughing is said to be healthy and I always have to smile when I read your blog.
I don't understand the health care system-reforms in the USA either and why people object to it. But, I don't understand a lot of things in the USA.
I think most individual Americans are really nice people (at least those I have been in contact with, which are all quilters, which are mostly nice people anyway) but I just don't understand the way Americans think, I guess we are just on different planets.

Kay said...

I know you have basically closed this subject, but this column by Paul Krugman gives a good sense of the kind of debate going on, and by implication, what one proposed plan might be and why some Americans are so hysterical. Sorry I can't put it in link form.

Shasta said...

I live in the US and I don't understand it either. People yell at each other about false things they have heard, without really listening to what the plans actually do. 80% of Americans who have health insurance might be happy with it (although I don't believe that - insurance costs as much as rent and you still have to pay a copay and your 20%), but 80% don't have health insurance. I am one of those who don't, but I guess if I start going to the doctor, then that will make the doctor more busy to take care of the people who have insurance. Since people are now hired "at will" and can be let go at any time, I think more people would want affordable insurance that isn't tied to their job.