You may have noticed that I haven’t written about healthcare reform. I haven’t blogged about it, Tweeted about it, or changed my Facebook status for the rest of the day like all the cool kids are doing.
It’s not that I dismiss the issue. Hell, my family had $10,000 of out of pocket medical expenses last year. And that’s just for our portion of the medical bills not covered by the “good” insurance for which we shell out plenty of cash on a monthly basis. Our family has a decent income and health insurance, but it is pinching us from both sides. I cannot even imagine how it is for the people who are living paycheck to paycheck and fear someone getting strep throat.
Nothing short of a free, public healthcare system will really address the fact that even the supposedly well-off are being squeezed with medical bills. Yet, I am enough of a liberal that I am cool with a plan that at least solves the woes of those with no insurance at all.
In an ideal world, everyone would have excellent medical coverage. Doctors would grow on trees and the streets would be paved with gold. And I am sure as shootin’ willing to pay out the nose for that.
But, good god almighty, please let me know when you’ve figured out how to do that, OK? Because I have lived under NHS, and I can tell you it sucked. The only way we got treated for certain things was to use the private insurance we paid for on top of the NHS coverage. Which means that those who couldn’t afford private insurance were walking around for six more months with staph infections in the jock area before someone from NHS figured it out. So, those without money were not getting decent medical coverage. Sound familiar, Americans?
And, while I get that Canada is the Promised Land to many, I do wonder if that system would be able to function as it does if it weren’t right next door to the U.S. The cheap drugs they get? Are developed to sell to a U.S. market. Take away the for-profit U.S. pharmaceutical market, and I wonder whether we are going to have any of those new drugs developed for the socialized medical systems to negotiate bulk prices on. That goes for other medical developments, as well. And then there are those who slip across the border for treatments for which they don’t want to wait. While I know most Canadians are happy with their medical system, from where I sit one reason it is possible is that the U.S. is just down the road.
There are major problems with the healthcare system in the United States. Having lived abroad gives me the perspective that everyone should have a free clinic that provides medical care, but it also taught me that it is not easy to deliver quality care to an entire population. The reason that the politicians keep arguing and debating is not that they are heartless villains intent upon leaving Tiny Tim to fade away in the gutter on his crutches. They keep arguing and debating because it is unbelievably complex and difficult to overhaul a healthcare system.
People with all sorts of fancy degrees in this stuff are publishing eloquent opinions that argue… well, anything you can imagine. The healthcare experts all have different views on this, and they actually know what the hell they are talking about. While all I know is that this is a very complicated problem. I just am not qualified to get out there and state an opinion.
But, ahem, for what it’s worth, if I were to write something about healthcare, what I would write would be that it is so absurdly complicated and huge a problem that perhaps we should stop trying to get universal coverage. Instead, let’s focus on the children. Let’s overhaul the system for kids under 18 (or still in high school up through 19). Completely start over, creating clinics and having doctors do immunizations and checkups right there in school and dentists making yearly visits to elementary-aged kids in their schools. Let’s come up with a cracker-jack system for the kids, one that provides fantastic care for them absolutely for free.
That, I think, would be worth the money it would take, rather than throwing money at all of the compromise ideas that fail to either shit or get off the pot. If this system for kids works, fan-fucking-tastic. It will be an excellent model for overhauling the rest of the system. If it doesn’t work, it will be smaller than a system for the entire public, and so it will be easier to fix.
That’s what I would say if I were to weigh in on this debate. However, since it doesn’t fit on my Facebook status report, it is obviously not a deeply held belief. I’ll tell you what else doesn’t fit – an acknowledgement that the problems are deep and complex, and we can’t just click our heels three times to make them go away.