This from Robert Kuttner at the Washington Post:
“It is private insurance companies that ration care by deciding what is covered and what is not. Private plans limit which doctor and hospital you can use, define “preexisting conditions” and make insurance unaffordable for tens of millions. For many, all this can cause suffering and sometimes even death. Our one oasis of socialized medicine, Medicare, has the most choice and the least exclusion.”
I haven’t a clue as to why people believe the opposite. Haven’t they been dealing with HMO’s for years, wrangling about which meds, docs, hospitals, etc. they are “allowed” (after paying their high premiums) to use?
In the 1980’s, when I provided very good health, dental, and eye insurance for my employees, one of them asked if we could not join an HMO, which, she believed, would be so much better. It would provide “preventative medicine.” At the time, I looked into it, and found the opposite to be true. People who had and who have no choice, since they either cannot afford health insurance or must take whatever their employer dishes out, have little choice, in most HMO (“Health Maintenance Organizations,” rather an oxymoron–often they are LDO’s–life-denying organizations) about whether or not a certain option is “approved.” As a patient in dire trouble gets worse by the minute in emergency rooms, paid intermediaries, often the doctor, must haggle with the medically untrained bean-counter at the insurance company who has no idea of the stakes or what they are or are not approving. And none of what the bean-counters are doing is in the interest of the patient. It is completely and absolutely in the interest of the CEO’s of the HMO. It all comes down to whether or not the CEO will be able to buy a timeshare in a more upscale “personal jet,” or especially cool and impressive six-thousand-dollar shower curtains.
Remember all those labor issues in the United States–or worldwide, for that matter–in the thirties, when mine owners and factory owners worked their employees to death in unsafe conditions while they feasted in top-of-the-hill mansions? Well, maybe you don’t. Neither do I, actually, but I have learned about them second-hand, by reading history and seeing films and listening to records. Look it up. Listen to a few Pete Seeger or Woodie Guthrie tunes. Read some nineteenth century English Literature. Or a little bit about the worldwide Communist revolutions, and, on their heels, the Fascist alternatives the fearful moneyed class–including our own Kennedys, a whole lot of Upper Crust Brits, and Industry Magnates in Germany supported wholeheartedly–or, should I say, without any hearts at all. Some of you–even Sarah Palin–might have heard about the two World Wars that used up a lot of lives, time, and energy during the last century. What was all that ruckus about, anyway?
Oh. To get back to health care. I’ve actually never left it. Why shouldn’t our abundant tax dollars go instead to helping ourselves, with stellar health care and stellar education, rather than used to develop meaner weapons and send young people to their death? Hmmm. That’s a hard one, isn’t it? Even though it seems so obvious.
To read the rest of Kuttner’s opinion piece, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/17/AR2009081702363.html?wpisrc=newsletter
August 18, 2009 No Comments