Friday, October 10, 2008

"Health Care" vs. medical intervention

An important question was asked at the Obama-McCain second debate (aka mediated talking points discussion) that was not adequately addressed by either candidate.

A woman in the audience asked Senator Obama "Is health care a commodity," implying, to my mind, that health care cannot be made equally available to all in a capitalist economy in which health care is marketed according to supply and demand (albeit, highly manipulated supply and demand).

Neither candidate directly answered the questions, nor did they even acknowledge the "commodity/capitalism" basis of the question. Each candidate touted his own variety of a health insurance/medical technology industry support proposal.

The problem is two-fold. Health care is what each individual does for him or herself or for his or her family. Health care consists of good nutritious food, plenty of sleep and moderate exercise. Once could also include positive interpersonal relationships, satisfying work and freedom from stress as elements of one's health care. What the medical industry provides is medical intervention in the event of accidents resulting in injuries requiring medical intervention, communicable disease and catastrophic illness.

Furthermore, medical intervention in a capitalist, for profit society, when marketed as a commodity, is available to medical intervention consumers only as a function of ability to pay for it. The best medical intervention is available to those with ability to buy it.

The situation is further exacerbated by the medical insurance industry which mediates one's ability to access medical intervention by one's ability to pay regular medical insurance premiums in perpetuity until such care may, or may not be required.

The cry is always raised that "socialized medicine" would necessitate unbearable taxation. To this objection there are two responses: 1) other countries support high quality medical care without undue tax burdens; and 2) the amount of money Americans now pay (personally or through their employers) for "health insurance" (plus co-payments and costs not covered by insurance) far exceeds the extra taxes required to fund a national universal health care coverage.

A system that piles profits on top of the cost of the system of medical care for two separate industries, health insurance and medical technology, will, of course, cost far more than a system that provides medical care with no middleman profits. This is not rocket psychiatry!

Just as we expect our government to provide quality education for all of our children as a right of citizenship, so too can we expect our government to facilitate access to medical care equally for all, when needed, in conjunction with responsible personal health care. Government can't do it all for us; we must see to our own health. But when we truly need life-saving medical intervention, it is immoral and criminal to parcel out preferential access such care to the highest bidder.

1 comment:

  1. Jack Burns8:01 AM

    Why do you hate America so much?

    Healthcare is working just fine. I have to pay thousands every month for just ten employees, our premiums go up every year, we have to fill out form after form after form for nearly every visit, we have to fight through delays and rejections on multiple visits, we rarely see the doctor more than 60 seconds, and.....we're the ones that can afford it.

    I can't imagine what's it like for someone really poor that has a really serious illness.

    But we have to let the free market work, Michael. It will all shake out in the end, meaning, one day there will be a society with nothing but rich people! Isn't that how it works out? Or is it a two class society with a handful of rulers and masses of peasants?

    I guess another option is what some have called an egalitarian society where everyone lives within logical limits and everyone has food, water, healthcare and a say in things.

    Goddamn they come again with all those ideas about peace, fairness and equality.

    What's America coming to? I mean, when my dad was coming up, you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps (after walking ten miles in the snow to get to school during your childhood), and you worked hard so you could move up.

    And those poor fellows that didn't? Well, they just didn't do the right things! They didn't put their faith in Jesus, or some shit like that. Or, they just didn't have what it took. I mean, someone has to be the garbage man. Someone has to be the Wal-Mart greeter. Someone has to dig graves while I ski in Vail or sail in Nantucket.

    All of life is competition, Michael. Isn't that right? I learned that in Sunday school.

    Rant off....