Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why the healthcare system is sick (and you don't look so great either)

by Rich Miles


OK, morons. Pay attention. I'm only gonna say this once. I get so TIRED of having to clue you people in to the most obvious shit sometimes.

Here's why the repugnicans are against health care reform. It really is this simple:

If the government insists that every American is covered under a (at least) government-ADMINISTERED plan, if not a totally government-RUN plan, the major profit centers of the medical-health care industry will lose money. Perhaps large amounts of money.

And repugnicans always, and I mean ALWAYS, are supportive of the wealthy taking money away from the not so wealthy by fair means or foul, preferably foul if it can be managed. This is how they maintain their class system: Upper class, upper upper class, and the rest of us, who can, in the opinion of the wealthy, go fuck ourselves.

It's just that simple - as in so many things in life, one must follow the money.

It's nothing to do with you, as an American or a legal resident of America, receiving adequate health care at an affordable price - though that is unquestionably how the Enemy will frame their resistance to the reforms.

For those over the age of about 45 or so, you will probably be old enough to remember a time when health care was NOT something that routinely bankrupted average people. But at some point between your childhood and now, certain segments of society decided to apply the Law of Supply and Demand to the area of personal health, and the result was that health care costs rose DRAMATICALLY and OBSCENELY every single year thereafter, until today we have a health care system that costs, on average, more than 2600% of what it cost in 1970. That's an increase of about 66% a year across the board. NOTHING else in the world, neither service nor product (with the possible exception of French wine), rose at a comparable rate in that same period. Not even gold and diamonds rose in price so much and so fast.

But see, the bean counters and paper pushers of the medical profession came to realize, as arguably they should have done years earlier, that everyone needs health care at some time or other in life, and therefore everyone will pay whatever it costs to receive that health care when they need it.

In other words, greed drove the market. Drove it fast and well, and left the horses snorting and sweating in the dooryard. Nowt to do with the actual COST of providing health care, though that rose, too - it was greed, pure and simple, and in the main, it was not the doctors and nurses who were demonstrating the greed, but the administrators and accountants and OWNERS of hospitals and clinics and so on.

OWNERS. By and large, not medical practitioners but administrators of health care. The profession of health care administrator, the degree programs, the professional associations, popped up all over America, and lots and lots of money became necessary to sustain them all.

And where was that money coming from? Regardless of whether it was filtered through the kidneys of health insurance companies or not, it was coming from people like you and me.

And that, in a nutshell, is how the average cost of healthcare rose 2600% in a mere 39 years. People like you and me allowed it to happen on our backs. And now, here we are with a health care "system" that is, at best, bloated beyond any recognition, with profit more important - FAR more important - than healing.

And to conclude the history lesson, here we are today with the same - the SAME, mind you - demand for health care - the same percentage of the population, approximately, get sick and need health care, but it's a much larger number of actual people because the size of the population is greater. More money flows out of our pockets and into those of the health care industry. And more and more of us are financially gutted by the phenomenon (while our Congress passes new laws making it harder for those of us who are gripped by this monster to get out from under it, but that's a story for another time.)

And the realization of all this - specifically, the realization of how much money can be made from sick people - has led us to where we are today, which is to say in a situation where it is far more likely than not that, if we become seriously ill, we are going to find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial situation. At best.

So this is why the Swift Boaters of health care are going to try to defeat the forces of health care reform - because to allow it, to permit the government to administer the national health care system, is to allow the diversion of huuuuuuge amounts of cash to some other locale.

And we can't have THAT, now can we?

Seriously, kids - we're getting fucked here, and if there were ever a political cause one might take part in or advocate for, this one is IT.

Trust me.

And I'm sorry I called you names at the beginning of this essay. It's just that I get afraid sometimes that you haven't logicked this out, that you think that those who oppose nationalized health care really ARE doing it for your benefit. To keep you from suffering the depredations of "socialized medicine".

(Seriously, if you were dying of a curable disease, do you think you'd really give a shit if the cure were provided by "socialized medicine" or not? I'll leave the answer open for you.)

Anyway, when you hear, as you will, the opponents of health-care reform tell you all the reasons why you should oppose it yourself, just remember this one relevant fact:

They're lying.


Jack Jodell said...

Rich, I am with you 100% on this. I am SO sick of piggish, greedy insurance companies standing in between doctors and patients I could puke my guts out over it. As far as I'm concerned, it is totally immoral for a company to make huge profit off of the illness and suffering of others. It is likewise immoral for huge pharmaceutical companies to overcharge the American public as they have been doing, again for immense profit. Insurance companies today are basically dictating treatment plans, medicine dosages, and hospital stays based on insurance profit margins, not patient need. On top of that, the bastards cherry-pick who they'll cover and limit the amount of coverage they'll give. And the pharma houses are screwing us badly TWICE: First, in the exorbitant prices they charge us (which are about double what they charge Canadians), and then in the way 30% of their R & D is funded through American tax subsidies. I say, bring on the Canadian single-payer system, and bring it on NOW! ENOUGH of this profiteering bullshit with huge CEO salaries!

BimBeau said...

It is absolutely incumbent upon me to reinforce Rich's thinking and prose.

1. Demand and price of medical care is inelastic. For the non-economists out there - it means the price of medical care will be paid at the point of sale (or delivery) regardless of that price ... and that price can escalate without regard to the number of providers (supply).
2. HMO's closed off access to providers at the street (or door); requiring all who used the provider to deliver medical care through the 'Third Party Portal'. As HMO's became more adroit at restricting access through the portal, they became more attractive to INSURANCE COMPANIES.
3. As insurance companies absorbed HMO's the portal became smaller and the price higher. They retooled congruent legislation, further restricting the portal.

To me the most heinous crime was the destruction of accountability for indigent care. Via legislation, it became legal to decline customers (patients) at the door. All that was necessary was a Directors' Resolution affirming profits' role in the conduct of operations.

Secrets, confidentiality, proprietary information agreements and revised bankruptcy rules are just more ways non-doctors and non-nurses profit from the system. It's backwards, the non-practitioners enjoy lesser returns from the system than the providers.

Burr Deming said...

The title itself makes the article worth reading. The article makes the healthcare system easier to comprehend. Thanks for the information.