Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I was happily reminded recently about another of my favorite arguments against reforming the current health care system, which in case you haven't noticed is so shitty you couldn't possibly make it any worse. The buzz word here is "rationing" and its wielded like a dull rusty knife in the hands of a criminally insane man, running around the room threatening to slash you with it. Its time to set the story straight on what health care rationing is and why people need to stop being so gullible as to piss themselves at the very mention of it.
First, let's establish that your health care is rationed now. It is. If you say its not, you're either lying or you don't know what you're talking about. Health care is currently rationed by cost. You buy a policy that you can afford. You get the level of care associated with that policy. If you need costly surgery for an illness and your insurance doesn't cover it, guess what? Your care just got rationed. How do you know it just go rationed? Because you needed it and you didn't get it. A lot of people who have had great health care most of their lives (military, government, etc.) are going to be scratching their heads at this concept. Since they have never actually experienced what most Americans experience in the insurance market, this is foreign to them. But it is the truth. If you are happy with your current health care, than you are satisfied with a system that rations care.
Will reformed health care also ration? Probably. Will it ration care to people who haven't had it rationed before? Maybe. And I can see how that is scary. But is rationing a bad thing? Brace yourselves: no, it isn't. Let's say grandma is close to death. The doctor comes in and tells you that her insurance will fund a surgery that has a 10% chance of not killing her outright but will grant her another three months of life. Should you do it? Even assuming it is successful and you buy three more months, was it worth the cost, in the tens of thousands of dollars? Consider that by having the operation, you have caused premiums within grandma's network to go up. This means that somewhere else in the state, a little girl with treatable pneumonia can't quite afford to go to the hospital because daddy's premiums got too high the month before and he had to drop his coverage. That little girl eventually goes to the emergency room, but too little too late. The little girl dies so grandma can suck oxygen out of a hose for three months. We can cry and feel offended by this story all we want, but the fact of the matter is it isn't just a liberal fairytale. It happens. Every day.
At what point does one person's life carry more value than another person's life? Where do you draw the line? Is person A's three months worth person B's 70 years? In the above example, it apparently was. And why? Because person A could afford it. That is the difference between the rationing aspect of the current system and a reformed system. In the current system, the value of your life is determined by your paycheck. In a reformed system, it will be determined by your need. And as much as it might hurt to recognize, its time for Americans to grow up, stop being the most selfish people on the planet, and recognize when its time to make the right decisions about health care. And yes, the people that have cash out the wazoo and buy cadillac plans are going to be bent out of shape. Its obvious why; they have lots of money and they demand that it be used to buy them respect. But money shouldn't earn you respect. If you actually put grandma next to the little girl with pneumonia in a room and asked who should get the medical care, just about everyone including grandma would say the little girl.
Does this open frightening doors in a reformed health care system? Yes, there is potential for a slippery slope. But doing the right thing and doing the easy thing are seldom the same. You have to take risks to get rewards. We cannot stonewall any and every type of reform because somewhere down the road someone might be told they don't deserve to be treated for tetanus or something. Ensuring that that doesn't happen is the duty of each and every one of us. Health care is not a switch that gets flipped and then we can all kick back and relax. It will be a constant struggle to monitor it and make sure it is doing what it is supposed to do: serve the people. Why do you think it got so fucked up to begin with? We weren't paying attention. Sphere: Related Content