Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sicko and healthcare

Sicko has premiered in America. If you haven't seen it, go see it. Hopefully it will rekindle the argument for universal health care.

America is the only 'Western Country' without Universal Health Care. When I first moved here, I often forgot that I had to pay to see the doctor. If I needed a test of some sort, I had to pay for the test. One time my doctor wanted me to have an asthma test -- I really thought against having it since it was going to cost $10. And I'm insured.

The people against Universal health care use the term "Socialized medicine". It's a boogyman term, meant to conjure up scares of communists, and anti-capitalist. In Sicko, Moore treats the word "Socialism" with over the type frightening images and music, making it almost laughable.

To Americans, Socialism screams Russia. And Ronald Reagan said they were evil. Meaning, the theories they used were also evil. it's a simplistic worldview call Manichean whereby everyone is either Good or Evil. It currently has the President as a believer, but that's a whole different post.

Regardless of the origins, and the why's, the reality is that Socialism is the scary word. But it makes me wonder, for a second, about US Healthcare. Assuming it isn't socialist medicine, then what is it? If it was free market, I should have had options for my asthma test. I should have been able to get the test for $1 from the person who came last in their class. But I can't shop around. My choice was get it or not. And really, that's our health care 'choice'.

Advocates of the system would scream at that, saying I have way more choice. But honestly -- when is the last time someone shopped around for care? We did shop around for a pediatrician for Autumn, sort of. We went to a place, checked to see if our health care would be accepted, and it was. Thus, we took them. But, and this is important, we didn't sign them up as our doctor because of price. Or service -- you can't know that. We like our pediatrician: he runs marathons, has a couple of little girls; in short, we have a lot in common with him. But I have no idea how much he costs. We saw that he had a diploma, and it says he's a doctor, but I didn't gauge his ability to care. And that's the point: in this free market system, we're left making personal, yes social choices for our doctor.

Do people 'shop around'? Are we really free to make a free market choice other than switching doctors? Because in Canada, I was free to switch doctors. I did a few times actually. So does the US system really just give the illusion of choice?

Since we get health care through my work, the only 'choice' I truly have is where I work. But switching jobs to switch care doesn't exactly seem like a 'free market' to me. So what is American Health Care?

Well, according to Sicko, it's an industry that is required, under the law, to be profitable to its shareholders. As the American population's belts expand, the need for care increases. And a business must cut corners, and raise prices in order to be profitable. That's the US system.

Finally, Moore offered ammunition to the debate on health care. He rightly pointed out that America has socialized police and socialized firefighters. The heroes of 911 work for the government on our behalf. If you're in the process of getting mugged, you don't have to pay for a cop. But if the mugger breaks your leg, you have to pay to get it fixed.

Likewise, if you're house is burning down, a government run system will come to your house and put out the fire for free. But if you got smoke inhalation, you have to pay to get that looked at.

Make sense of that.

And one more thing while we're at it: listen to this deal.

For $35 per month, your whole family can be insured. It includes unlimited doctor office visits of your choosing; covers all accidents, routine exams, physical therapy, labs and X-rays; and the like; unlimited hospital visits and stays; certain chronic care and rehab; full prescription coverage; and unlimited specialty consultations. There are no deductibles, no co-pays. All for thirty-five dollars!

Plus, the group awarded this insurance looks forward to a full pension and continued coverage until their deaths.

On your dime. Because this group is Congress. So, while you and I don't get Universal Health Care, Congress basically does ($35 a month is laughable).

I'm getting angrier.

No comments: