Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Socialized Health Care

21.365_doc_in_box

I've enjoyed the benefits of "socialized medicine" for my entire life. First as a military dependent, then on active duty for the past 20 years. Once I retire from the Air Force, I'll continue to have excellent health care benefits; for myself and my family. Because of this, I'd love to be able to say that the current debate over health insurance reform doesn't really affect me. Except that it does ...

It affects us all.

I don't want to get too far off on a rant here. >>Begin Rant<< But suffice it to say, that when it comes to politics, I'm a proud member of the "mushy middle". I've got absolutely no use (or respect) for those members of congress (or the public) on the Right, or the Left who's "principals" (ie: ideology) tend to stand in the way of getting anything productive done. Why is compromise considered a 4-letter word in today's political arena?

I'm not an expert on the health care field. But it seems to me that our congress just spent 3/4 of a year working on plan to at least try to address reforming a system that is so obviously broken. And now, because of one election in Massachusetts, many people seem to be cheering the idea that reform has been "killed".

I have to wonder, if no bill passes; a year or two from now, when the health care crisis has continued to get worse (ie, more and more expensive), will many of these same people then be blaming "the government" for not fixing it?

Speaking of fixing it ...

For my friends on the Left: The health care bill that the Senate already passed, can be voted on by the House of Representatives "as is", and signed into law by the President. (the fact that there's now only 59 votes in the Senate doesn't matter) For those Liberals who oppose the bill because it doesn't go "far enough" (ie, it's too "conservative"); do you really, honestly, think that you're ever going to be able to pass a bill that has "everything" you want, with no concession to the other side? And do you really honestly think that "nothing" is better than "imperfect"?

And on the flip side. To my Conservative friends who are cheering: ... Now what? Do you honestly think that when it comes to our heath care system that the status quo is acceptable? If it turns out that your side does "win" a political victory by blocking the Democrat's proposal, what is the Right's Alternative Plan? ... and before anybody points me to Eric Cantor's website, let me rephrase ... what are the Republicans willing to propose, that has any realistic shot of garnering the support of the 25-30 Democratic Senators it would need to pass? Because let's be honest, any thing less than that is just posturing.

I do have at least one thing in common with many of my more ideological friends ... I'm big time pissed off about the way things are going in this country.

But I'm not mad because the politicians don't always do exactly what I think they should. (it would be scary if they did ... I'm a smart guy, but I'm not always right).

No, I'm pissed off that so many people in our country seem to view politics almost more like a "sporting event", than as a way for society to solve some of the real world problems that we face. Highlighting the differences between those on the Left and those on the Right might make for compelling Cable TV, Talk Radio Shows, and Political Blogs, but it certainly doesn't do much for the prospects of actually addressing some of the very real long-term issues that we (as a country) have already put off for much longer than we should have.

I like this quote: "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." ~Harry S. Truman

Unfortunately, in today's world it seems that we (as a society) are disproportionately more concerned with who does or doesn't get the credit ... regardless of whether or not the problem is ultimately ever even addressed; let alone solved. Compromise is against the rules. (both sides can't be allowed to "win" at the same time)

It's a all a big game ... until it's not.

>>End of Rant<<



p.s. my picture of the day, above, is the wall mural in front of our little clinic here at Ali AB, Iraq.

12 comments:

  1. I am also part of the mushy middle in this particular debate. I personally don't care what they do as long as they don't raise my taxes to do it.
    if health care costs continue to rise, then i will either adjust my lifestyle to accomodate, or find a way to make more money. Either way is reasonable to me and seems to me that is what makes this country great... my freedom to choose a path.
    The issue comes in when "we" the American people have to pay for health care for those who won't keep a job long enough to qualify for health care (like 90 days) or who irresponsibly destroy their health with drugs or loose living and expect me to foot the bill.
    I don't think people realize this, but fast food joints offer medical benefits to employees who work 25 hours or more (Pizza Hut for example).
    problem is that many people won't work that many hours and would rather get welfare.
    Al
    .-= Allyn´s last blog ..Sold For $30K: The Commitment To BIG Posts =-.

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  2. Todd not being from the US I don't pretend to understand the politics. However I do come from the UK which has an excellent National Health Service-despite its critics.

    I well remember last year when the President consulted the UK regarding this that most US citizens were up in arms. Well it may not be perfect but all our citizens(and visitors) get free health care. Perhaps its time for the US politicians to think about all their citizens.

    You never know they might still learn something from we former colonialists :-)

    Goodness that sounds like a rant-sorry and yes I like the photograph too.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..An Old Head on Young Shoulders Idiom Photo/Image =-.

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  3. Hi Allyn,

    Interesting ... so you're willing to work harder, and pay more money if the Insurance Companies continue to increase rates. But if your taxes go up AT ALL as a result of reform, that's somehow "tyranny" ????

    As for the examples you gave about "lazy" people. I don't doubt for a minute that some of these stereotypes may be based on reality. But do you think it's possible that employers are also very aware of some of the "rules" that you sited ... and as a result might just let temporary employees go before they reach 90 days ... or schedule part-time workers for 24 hours a week?

    I think our country is in a lot of the messes that we're in today, precisely because so many Americans are so caught up in the "what's in it for me" attitude ... and everybody else can just fend for themselves.

    The problem with "what's in it for me", is that it's almost always focused on the very short term ... and as a result the long-term consequence of "getting mine now" aren't always foreseeable ... and when they are, they're ignored or overlooked.

    Just my opinion of course. :-)

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  4. Hi Mike,

    My son Justin was born in an NHS hospital in Huntingdon England (just up the road from John Major's house). We had no issues at all ... that birth was as smooth, or better as when any of my other kids were born back here in the States.

    Like you, I have a hard time seeing what some people find so "scary" about the idea of "socialized" medicine. Then again, like I said, I've experienced it for my entire life.

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  5. Having grown up in West-Germany, I always failed to understand why some people in the USA are so hostile to what we call "Obligatory Health Insurance". As for "not want to pay for others", what about the health care needs of disabled children, people that got hurt in an accident they didn't cause, people that have cancer, and, and, and... "Socialized" medical care cares about these people also and from working as a nurse in such a system I can say that the number of people that try to abuse this system are minuscule but the benefits for everybody involved immense. It is not about who "deserves" and who "doesn't deserve" health care, depending on how much money they earn. We humans are "social beings" and that includes for me the care for the weak and needy in our society. SY
    .-= hospitalera´s last blog ..An emergency? I think not! =-.

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  6. Todd,
    I love a good friendly debate... and, "yes" I am willing to work harder and/or adjust my lifestyle in order to have the health care I want or need. If it gets to a point where I can no longer make such adjustments, I will just drop my healthcare and pay cash or get financing if I need it. I know that may sound posh, but that is what I love about living in the USA... I can and do make choices for myself and my family and no one can force me to go one way or the other.

    Also, I have seen big companies do what you suggest (lay off people before they hit a certain rate or hours or eligibility) but I have never had this happen to me... why?.. because I make myself valuable to the employer. I know that sounds naive, but it is how I have survived. In addition, if the employer screws me over, I will just find another job because i am smart enough to live well below my means in the first place and I have a savings, etc.

    It comes down to this: many people in this country have made stupid, selfish decisions: (doing drugs, having 8 kids in 8 years, committing felonies) and it is not my moral obligation to support them. They need to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and work. Or rely on their families to help them. (sad, but many families DO NOT help one another... this is a moral issue, not a government issue)

    NOW-- I do give, lots! I give time and money through my local church. People who come there are welcome to take advantage of all of the services we offer. I have helped hundreds of people through this outlet. (and not just in a spiritual sense either... we help with food, housing, job training,,,all of it... like a church should)
    The difference is that I can give to my church where I see the direct result of my money and time.
    When the government takes it by raising my taxes, I have very little if no control over where it goes.

    AL
    .-= Allyn´s last blog ..Sold For $30K: The Commitment To BIG Posts =-.

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  7. I see and respect your point, but to me, I look at it this way:
    I worked very hard for what i have and i don't want to be "forced" to give it away to causes I don't support or where it is wasted.
    I would rather give of my own free will to causes that I deem worthy.
    The founding fathers meant for churches to be the outlet of charity in this country, that is why they created a separation of church and state. IMO
    The problem is that those lines have been blurred over the last 60 years, so now the government is taking over the responsibility of the churches.
    (can of worms opened! LOL)
    AL
    .-= Allyn´s last blog ..Sold For $30K: The Commitment To BIG Posts =-.

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  8. Hey Al,

    I've got a few thoughts ... but first, I have a poker game to get to in like 10 minutes ... so I will be back to this space a little later. Thanks for sharing though, I appreciate your opinions ... it's probably obvious, but I too enjoy the occasional friendly debate ;-)

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  9. Hi again Al,

    It was an early night at the poker game. My KK against QQ ... he hit his 3rd Q on the flop, and I was outta there.

    Ok, so back to the conversation ...

    I have a bit of a libertarian streak myself. It would be great if we lived in the kind of world where people could just pick themselves up by the bootstraps and get to work ... or turn to friends and family if things got to be too much.

    ... but we don't live in that kind of world.

    And that's where my pragmatic side kicks in.

    I believe that certain social programs are not only necessary, but beneficial. Now don't get me wrong, I Do Not believe that we are obligated to help the less fortunate because "it's fair", or because "they need it".

    I believe that we should help the least among us, because (and to the extent that) it benefits society as a whole.

    Again, it would be nice if social services could all be operated by private (Non Profit) entities. But there are some things that only government is big enough to take on ...

    Health care being a prime example.

    The truth is, we really don't have health "insurance" in this country anyway. At least not in the sense that you pay your premiums with the hope that you won't actually need to use the insurance that you're buying. For the most part, what we have is more of a payment and subsidy plan ... everybody wants to make sure they are "getting their money's worth" ... unless/until the point comes where the cost of their care exceeds the premiums that they've put in ... then, they want to make sure that someone else foots the bill.

    We are well beyond the point, where we can simply go back to "pay as you go" medical care. Heck, most hospitals can't even tell you Exactly how much a procedure costs ... how in the world would consumers be expected to figure it out?

    In an ideal world, my opinion is that we should all have government (or at least non-profit) provided health insurance from birth until death. And, we should pay the level of taxes/premiums required to ensure that it's fully funded.

    But as we already discussed, we don't live an ideal world. So the real solution has lie somewhere between "every man for himself", and "everyone is taken care of".

    It's obvious that finding that balance is going to be a difficult thing. But it brings me right back to my original idea in my post ... politics is how we are supposed to solve complex societal problems ... through debate and compromise.

    It's Not a Game!

    Oh yea, as for why we should also take care of those "lazy" and "irresponsible" people ...

    In the simplest terms, it's in society's (whether you're rich or poor) Best Interest to have a healthy and productive work force. In other words, it has nothing to do with being "nice" or "fair". It has to do with making sense.

    Again, just my opinion ;-)

    Todd

    p.s. I'm a big believer in private charity, and I applaud the fact that you do your part to help others.

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  10. Ugh, my last response was already way longer than I intended (especially since this is not a "political" blog. My only comment on this one ...

    We ALL have plenty of our money spent everyday, by BOTH government and private enterprise on things that we really would prefer they didn't.

    Let's face it, we live in a country of 300+ million people, with a very wide and diverse range of viewpoints. There's no way in the world that any level of government could function effectively if each individual citizen was able to "veto" having their money spent on things they don't agree with.

    Chaos and anarchy ... come on in.

    Todd

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  11. p.s. check out this You Tube vid ... supports the "other side", but still struck me as right up your alley ...



    Funny ... and sums up my impressions of politicians on both sides almost perfectly :-)

    Via: The Daily Dish

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  12. No matter what side of this argument you are on it is true that every 30 minutes someone in America goes bankrupt because of medical cost and that affects every citizen.

    People who are bankrupt loose their homes to taxes, that decreases your property values and your wealth.

    When people are sick and don't have access to healthcare they can't work or pay taxes and they require, social security, medicaid and other forms of government support, that increases your taxes.

    The health of a nation is tied directly to the health of its people. An unhealthy people equate to an unhealthy nation. None of us can afford for the poor to be unable to work because of complications of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and asthma because we have to pay millions for their care if they are very sick and uninsured.

    Whether or not you want to pay for healthcare for the poor, you already do, and its much cheaper to keep people well than to fix them in the ER or the hospital as a charity care case. When a hospital has to much charity care it goes bankrupt and then communities loose hospital and existing hospitals are over crowed and become unsafe.

    Currently hospitals kill 200,000 people per year and injure many more. We spend 100 billion a year to correct medical errors. Enough money for most Americans to have healthcare. These errors will increase with hospital overcrowding and sicker, poorer people.

    It is a matter of national security that every American have access to safe healthcare.

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