My last post examined the questions: Who is worthy of having adequate health insurance and high-value (safe, cost-effective) care; what makes them deserving? And who, on the other hand, is unworthy; what makes them undeserving? I linked to this post on another forum, which led to an interesting conversation about personal responsibility. Following are excerpts from that conversation. I welcome your comments.
I am unwilling, as well as, unable (I am retired and on a rather fixed income) to pay for the healthcare of illegal aliens and those citizens who want me to pay their way!
And last, but not least, please provide valid, relevant, accurate, and complete statistical data which clearly shows those countries who have socialized healthcare provide healthcare of equal or better than is currently provided in the US.
This does not mean major improvements are desperately needed in our present healthcare systems! But these are improvements not a replacement! I will not hold my breath waiting on the healthcare industry to make these needed improvement, because of government regulations and interferences! The politicians are a major part of our healthcare problems, not a solution among them! :-)
You said: Our government [should not] tax everyone to pay for things that everyone has the freedom to choose. This includes medical care.
While I agree with your premise, I don’t believe it’s about “freedom of choice.” There are many reasons for people not having coverage, including:
You said: 17,742,000 uninsured Household earned $50,000 and more in 2006. … These People certainly could afford to acquire their own health insurance.
It seems to me that the number of folks who can afford insurance and simply chose not to get it is very small. Take your example of a family earning $50K/yr. In NY, an HMO family plan with steep copays and deductibles and no dental, offered through a small business, cost a family over $11K/year in premiums alone, which increases every year. That’s a sizable expense even for a family earning $50K, on top of out of pocket dental costs, as well as copays and deductibles. I don’t see that many fail to buy insurance because they’re looking for a “free ride.” I say this in light of the fact that the uninsured tend to have worse health and, when they get sick, they have to wait for hours in a emergency room or go to a community clinic safety net facility. This is not a glamorous option.
Another group, btw, are the “underinsured” who purchase coverage and then are shocked to realize that what they have doesn’t come close to paying their medical bills. According to a recent consumer reports study, 24% of Americans have health insurance that barely covers their healthcare needs, not to mentions the 16% with no insurance at all. This leaves a huge number of people unprepared for major medical expenses.
You said: Please provide valid, relevant, accurate, and complete statistical data which clearly shows those countries who have socialized healthcare provide healthcare of equal or better than is currently provided in the US.
I don’t believe such clear-cut data has ever been collected to make the case one way or the other. But there is convincing data that the US lags behind many industrialized countries in delivering primary care, access and quality … while at the same time costing much more than other countries. See, for example, The Commonwealth Fund (Sep 20, 2006). New National Scorecard: U.S. Health Care System Gets Poor Scores on Quality, Access, Efficiency, and Equity. Available at this link.
You may also want to visit this link to a page on our WellnessWiki for more facts and figures about the healthcare crisis.
As far as not holding your breath waiting on the healthcare industry to make needed improvement due to government regulations and interferences, I don't blame you! It will take strong leadership, new mind-sets, innovative policies, and consumer pressure to change the system in the kind of profound ways I propose.
And what about dealing with undocumented workers (illegal immigrants) who are hired by American employers to do back-breaking work at below minimum wage? I understand when our citizens complain about the cost of giving them free healthcare. But consider the alternatives: We can let them die in the streets without any aid and pray they don’t pass contagious disease due to lack of treatment, waste huge sums of money building walls around our country in the naïve hope that we can keep them from crossing our borders, etc. And we could punish employers who hire them to do back-breaking menial labor few of our citizens would do, but that wouldn’t help much since we need them and they need us for work to feed their families.
Alternately--and I realize this is controversial--we can adopt a national policy that makes the U.S.A. the world center for promoting health!
Why? Well, if we could afford to do so, not only is it the moral thing to do, but it would also be one of the most powerful things we can do to fight terrorism. Imagine what would likely happen if we showed the world that a primary function of our nation is to improve the health of all peoples at home and abroad. This would be a major step toward winning the hearts and minds of all peoples, including those who aren’t very fond of us right now; and, at the same time, it would make it much more difficult for terrorists to demean us and recruit individuals who want to destroy us.
So, assuming what I just said is valid, then how can we afford to be the leaders in promoting greater health and better healthcare for everyone around the in our own country and around the world?
There are many things we can do to get the money needed; some of which require a shift in our national priorities, policies and processes. Three of the more obvious strategies would be to: