The President vetoed a thing last week. I wasn’t paying attention. He doesn’t veto much, but when he does I can usually assume he shouldn’t have done it. This time around he vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed health care to children whose parents could not afford insurance, but were not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The cost of the program, from what I understand, is about the same as the cost of two weeks in Iraq. But the President vetoed it because he saw it as a step toward Socialism.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that most things are the way they are in this country because it makes the most money that way. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal and marijuana is illegal because they make the most money that way. That story about finding a way to ignite salt water fizzled into the background because keeping the populace stressed out about oil prices makes more money. If the powers that be can find a way to make more money on water-based fuel or legalized marijuana you will see a paradigm shift.
The rule applies to health care, obviously. There is a consensus that the current system is totally jacked. Everyone running for an office of any kind is espousing some sort of “new” plan. Conservatives lean toward more of a free-market plan, while liberals push for more government control of the system, usually offering to pay for it with higher taxes on Things That Are Bad For You But Still Legal.
I have no idea how to fix a broken health care system. I just know that when I am standing in my doctor’s office and my doctor has to consult a chart to figure out what drugs she is allowed to prescribe to me, something is very, very wrong.
I am fortunate enough to have health insurance through my employer. It came in handy a few years ago when I developed a kidney stone. I ran into a little trouble, though, because I neglected to call my doctor and ask her permission before I went to the emergency room. It must have slipped my mind while I was vomiting from the pain. Anyhoo, I received a bill from the hospital which I gratefully passed on to my insurance company. I remember that one of the tests cost twelve hundred dollars. That was on top of the seven hundred dollars just for walking in the door. I don’t have nineteen hundred dollars. If I didn’t have insurance I would not have been able to pay the bill, and I would now have collection agencies hounding me and screwing up my credit report even worse than it already is.
But here’s what really worries me: I read once, a long time ago, that car companies deliberately build cars so they start to wear out just after the warranty expires. They could, if they wanted to, build cars that lasted longer, but this way customers are forced to go back and spend large sums of money on repairs or replacements. It seems to me the same might be true in a free-market health care system. See, there is one thing the health care industry must have in order to make money: sick people. It is in the industry’s best interest to make sure there is a market for their product. It would not be cost-effective for them to, say, cure cancer, when there is so much money to be made from people who are suffering from it.
I’d like to think that a move toward Socialized medicine would negate that possibility. If the government had to pay for our health care, it would find ways to keep us from getting sick right quick, wouldn’t they? Or would they just come up with a new definition of “sick,” and give you so much paperwork to fill out just to prove you are sick that you’d rather just ride it out, even if “it” is a life-threatening tumor.
Sorry. I watched Children of Men a few weeks ago and I can’t shake the feeling that we are all pretty much fucked.