Thursday, April 16, 2009

Universal Health Care

The results:
36 people voted. 55% are against, 30% haven't decided yet, 15% are for.

Note: This poll is in NO WAY representative of the American people, just my lovely conservative friends. :) If you want to know why I am for, read on. If you don't really care to hear my ranting and ravings, stop now. But if you're like me and you're a little bit curious, skim through the essay I've created. Skimming is always 100% acceptable on my blog.

Oh, and take my new poll!

Started April 10, 2009

What I'm about to do is present what I think (through research and personal experience) the arguments against universal health care are. Feel free to comment at the end, and add any reasons you have for being against it (as I've learned most my readers are against it . . . an assumption I was willing to make before I presented you with last weeks poll). I am always open to ideas against universal health care. And as Ben points out, I'm open to these ideas because I want to come up with reasons to refute them. But go for it, try to throw one at me that I cannot refute. Maybe I'll buy a Snickers Bar for the winner of this challenge. And know, that by refuting any of the reasons against it I am not saying "I'm right and you are wrong." I know I can come off as just that. But that really is not how I feel, politics is something you can never prove right or wrong. Rather, I'm just offering you a different way to view things. Which is why I like it when people give me other reasons against universal health care, it gives me a chance to view things differently.

I know this post will be long, and probably take several days for me to construct. So I will try to organize my thoughts as best I can. I will try to avoid hyperbole in my arguments (and any moral reasoning I have rooted in my opinions), but this is a very personal matter to me. Just today (Apr 10) tears welled up and my throat cut dry as I thought of a student who may still be with me if she had, had better health care. It's safe to say her health coverage had nothing to do with her death, but neither can be proven so I err on the side of offering her better coverage. I know I know, many of you already disagree that universal health care would offer any Americans better coverage. Just hear me out, I have a solution for that argument, you can find it on reason #3.

#1 American Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for everyone's health care. This statement is totally 100% valid. I don't blame people for not wanting to give up all their earnings for those who are unwilling to provide for themselves. (I am strongly fighting back the moral argument to this statement . . . *takes a deep breathe*). But let me ask you this, who pays for my students weekly visits to the ER? American Taxpayers! I've heard those against universal health care complain about this very problem. So why not let universal health care fix the problem? If we offer everyone the right to a standard doctor visit we will cut back on their frequency to an emergency room visit. I am serious about this, every week I have a student say they weren't at school yesterday because their mom was in the hospital. I respond as I should "Is she alright?" To which I am assured "She's fine, her allergies just flared up and she needed a prescription." To which I think . . . and you had to go to ER for that! That's absurd, even to me, so I know it must erk those against universal health care even more than it does me. But why are American citizens forced to sit in line at an Emergency Room all day, just to get a prescription for Clariton? Because they are unable to call up a family doctor, make an appointment, and get the prescription from him. The only time they can see a doctor is if they rush to an ER. That is crazy! And it costs US Taxpayers more money than a universal health care plan would.

If we could properly institute (notice my wording) a universal health care plan we could cut Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP. Three government programs I think any American is willing to admit are huge wasters of tax money. Did you know that 21% of all federal spending goes into these three programs, and, AND states have to match federal spending for Medicaid and CHIP? That is so much money! American taxpayers are already giving up so much of their money on health care, why not try a new program that might just work better?

Hasn't anyone ever thought that maybe, just maybe, universal health care would actually save the American Taxpayer money? We'd be able to stop paying for the emergency room visits the uninsured make and only be forced to pay for their regular doctor visits, a much cheaper expense. Not to mention the idea that preventive medicine is the best and cheapest treatment. And if it really is, which I think most against universal health care will agree it is, why not offer this preventive medicine to everyone? It WILL cut back on other medical costs.

#2 Health care shouldn't be a freebie. Individuals need to be responsible for getting their own health care. Again, something I totally agree with. I will even admit this moral argument works in favor of those against universal health care. Christ has taught that we need to work for our own living, even if it is a struggle. Life should be a give-take relationship. And universal health care would make it so. Let's use my own personal experience in this argument. After Ben and I were married I lost health care coverage. I could no longer remain on my parent's plan. I did however, have on option to get health care coverage. I was working part-time at The Buckle. My boss knew I would be losing my coverage once I was married so she presented me with the companies different health care plans. I looked at the costs and quickly reasoned, hell no. I'm not paying $300 every two weeks. Especially not when my university tuition covers basic check-ups with the campus clinic and I know in case of an emergency I'll never be denied help in an ER. Sure, if an emergency had arose I'd probably ended up in financial ruin, but that was a risk I was willing to take. And why, when I live in one of the "wealthiest" countries in the world, a land of "freedom and opportunity" should I have to take such a risk?

Let me present you with an other option. I work part time at The Buckle, and as an American citizen, it is my responsibility to pour some of my earnings into a universal health care system. When my boss presents me with health care plans I have to be responsible and choose one of them. Paying as much as I can reasonably afford to cover me and my family in the event of an emergency. Creating an opportunity for us to have preventive treatments. Under this government contract I am forced to be much more responsible than I admit to being of my own free will. Choosing to live without health care was very irresponsible on my and Ben's behalf. If we had universal health care everyone who ever does anything to make a dollar in this country would have to be responsible for pouring into their health coverage. The "drug bum" who is too doped up to hold down a full-time job, but with it enough to work 15 hours a week at McDonald's would be given the responsibility of paying for and choosing his "free" health care program. Sure, you or I may be paying for more of this man's health care than he does (that's one of the gambles we take whenever we buy insurance), but the bottom line is he IS paying for some of his care. As where, in the current health care system this country holds, he isn't.

If my examples aren't working for you just know that universal health care does make the free-loading American citizen more responsible for their health care coverage than the current health care system does. As it is now, many people can waltz into an Emergency Room for a visit regarding a little allergy attack, and walk out without every paying for their care. But if we had a universal health care plan that was efficient (notice the terminology again) that person would be responsible for calling a family doctor, scheduling an appointment, paying part of the bill before they even get in to see the doctor, and then paying part of the premium the insurance company covers through their own measly pay check. That sentence holds a lot more responsibility than the previous one.

Okay time to address a different issue. #3 Universal health care will decrease the value of care we receive. Again, a legitimate concern. Though I think this is solely rooted in a certain "fear factor" American people seem to create for themselves, I hear the argument. Hundreds of Canadians and Europeans come to the US each year for our health care procedures. So the US medical field must be better than that of other countries? True, but what of the 70 million Americans that would rather live under Canadian and European health care systems? For these individuals crappy health care is better than no health care. And who's to say that our medical quality will actually decrease? Sure, some medical geniuses leave their home countries (of India and so forth) to practice in America because Doctor's are paid more. But I'm pretty sure some of those Indian born geniuses will still be rushing to America even if the pay was the same. Think about it, America is the land of "freedom and opportunity." So I'm sure many Saudi students will still choose America as a place to practice.

But the real solution to this problem is . . . drum roll please . . . keep health care privatized! You can stop your applause, I know it's brilliant, but I'm not the first liberal mind to side with those against universal health care on this matter. Look at our education system (which I'll be the first to admit is a crap shoot), you have public schools where anyone and everyone is given the right to education -- and you have private schools, where anyone and everyone who can afford it is provided the opportunity to a bigger and better education. Though I'm certain I'll never send my child to a private school, no matter how wealthy I become, I would pay the money necessary to send my child to a private hospital, if I truly believed they would receive better care and attention there.

Up my sleeve I have two prime examples. Experiences I had overseas. In East Malaysia a very dear member of our small branch was ran over by a motorized vehicle. She was not in the upper-middle class social scene. As a result she was treated in Sarawak's General Hospital. The care given her did not rival that give in an American general hospital. But we can't really compare a "fully developed" country like America to East Malaysia. I could walk in and out of ICU without washing my hands, at any given hour of the day, not because the hospital was a state hospital, but rather because the country was barely above 3rd world living conditions. But even in this 3rd world jewel our wealthy upper class investigator could find a hospital that would provide her the excellent care she needed during a standard surgery. She was not forced to go to Sarawak's general hospital. Rather she and her husband paid the extra costs to have her admitted to a hospital just around the corner. A smaller, much cleaner, more expensive, private hospital. This extra dollar wasn't even high price either. The better hospital was covered in their insurance plan, it was the hospital our senior couples visited when they needed basic care. Note: when my Thai comp was injured her health care coverage sent her to Sarawak General hospital. There Sister Waew received inferior care to that which the senior couples experienced, just as Agnus received care superior to the care Sister Sharon was given. Is this fair? Perhaps not, but at least Sharon and Waew had access to some sort of care, and yes, Sharon and her husband are going to be responsible for paying for as much of that care as they can reasonably afford.

Now, let's travel across the South China Sea to Singapore. Meet Jorge, an Angolan immigrant who was stabbed and left to die because of the deep color of his skin. Also meet the Kim family, a wealthy ex-pat family from South Korea, brother Kim is a CEO of Samsung and can obviously afford proper care for his 16-year-old son who was diagnosed with Leukemia after a soccer injury. Both young men, of the same age . . . are to spend weeks in a hospital bed, both in critical condition. Unlike the hospitals of Malaysia, Jorge's hospital is clean and the procedures are based on 21st century research. But unlike Sister Kim's son (whose name has escaped me) Jorge's family wasn't able to afford the high price of allowing him recovery in Singapore's greatest hospital. Many members, and even our Mission President's wife were saddened to learn Jorge was being treated in Singapore's General hospital. But the facts of universal health care are that Jorge's mother and step-father couldn't afford to find him better treatment, and the insurance offered her by the Angolan embassy wasn't as grand as the insurance offered Brother Kim by Samsung. It's a tough life, but at least Jorge had access to help that didn't send his mother plummeting into bankruptcy, as our current health care plans would, and have done, to thousands of Americans.

Perhaps I can offer up another personal example, as a better -- more American -- parallel. DCPS (my employer) offers three different kinds of health care. I chose the cheapest one. The standard HMO many people complain about. There is a lot of hoop jumping. But I'm young and healthy and willing to waste time hoop jumping. My friend Linda prefers to cut twice what I cut from my paycheck in order to have more efficient health care coverage. One that will never punish or penalize her for seeing a health care specialist without obtaining a referral from a primary care giver. And Linda has good reasons for wanting this, she's older and may need to see a specialist without first consulting someone else. But even Amanda, who is younger than I am -- chose the same plan Linda has. But that's the beauty of it, it's all the taxpayers choice, and who says we have to take that choice away and give everyone equally crappy, government run health care?

It's a little thing I like to call supply and demand. Even after the US goes universal with it's health care there will still be a demand for better run health care packages. Therefore, quality health care will still be in supply. This takes us right back to the "universal health care will decrease the value of care we receive" argument that began this section. And this supply and demand rule of thumb is one more reason to prove our fear of health care decreasing is invalid. Another way to look at it is that the more we supply people with health care, the greater demand there will be for competitive health care programs and professionals. Supply and demand, a brilliant principle we often forget about after our school days.

Let me offer up another idea, in refute to the fact that #4 European and Canadian health care plans are full of flaws. Well, though it may be hard for some Americans to see, so is ours. Just ask someone who has had to declare bankruptcy in order to try and save their child's life. This my friends, is not one of my hyperboles. I do know a family, dear to my heart, that faced financial ruin when their son was diagnosed with cancer. We live in a country where someone's ability to receive fair health coverage depends on circumstances they were born with. There is something wrong with that picture. And we need to fix it. So why don't we do what America is so great at doing? Take the good from European and Canadian health care plans and create our own version of universal health care. Isn't that exactly what our dear constitution is? The best political ideas our forefathers had come across in their countries of origin. And when the said constitution poses a problem, we create an amendment. Just because we decide to have a universal health care program doesn't mean it has to be set up and run like other countries. And once something becomes an issue (like if costs for health care really do go up) we need to address those problems and fix them (create an amendment so to speak). We will never have a perfect health care system, it's impossible. But why can't we strive to have the best one possible? One that isn't ruled by individuals (insurance companies and lobbyists) trying to make money off the system? Which leads me to another topic.

#5 Health care professionals won't make as much money as they currently do. My natural response to that is boo-freaking-hoo. But I will try to be mature and address this concern with reasonable counter ideas. I understand that medical school is not cheap and it is just compensation that medical professionals earn a high salary. So why don't we make medical school easier to come by? Why don't we open more institutions that will provide people with cheaper education? Why can't we create more government grants for medical students? Why do we force these students to spend 4 years working 80 hours a week at minimum wage? Aren't these the kinds of factors that drive eligible people away from joining the profession? Why can't we put high costs on the lawyers and patients who cry "malpractice" just to earn a small settlement? These are legitimate concerns, the cost of medical school, the threat of a lawsuit -- so let's brainstorm some ways to fix these financial burdens.


So there, I'm done. Really, feel free to give me more of your reasons against it. I sincerely want to hear them, even if it's just so I can come up with ways to disagree. My favorite old adage is "agree to disagree." Which is something I've had to do with many a friend on this very subject. Also, feel free to comment even if you only read one paragraph of this post. I know next to no one will have read this whole post. Ben teases me for having spent time creating it. "Only your parents are going to read all that." I doubt even they will, I don't expect anyone to read all this. But this is how I work, I get ideas and opinions in my head, I discuss them - first with myself (which is the topic of my next poll), then with those dear to me, and sometimes I even research them beyond my own circle of associates, coming across ideas even more far fetched then my own (I found some websites those of you against universal health care would love, they really help your side of the argument). And usually if I get so far as to research them beyond my own understanding I have a desire to write them down. And that's the whole reasoning for this post. Not to stir contentions, not to indoctrinate my readers with my ideals, but just for my own learning process. I must write what I know and feel. Then it becomes complete.


Mandi said...

Liz - I appreciate your arguments. There are a lot of things about UHC that I don't understand, and the concept of it I am not against, but I will give you part of my reason for voting "no" in your poll. I'll save you the freaky-granola-nature-lovin' parts and just give you the basic gist.

My family, like some others in the tiny little metroplex we both hail from, and many others across this great nation, are of a more holistic mindset than some. I can count on one hand the number of prescription pills I have taken in my entire life, and using that same hand (but not reusing any of the fingers), I can also count the number of times I have visited a medical doctor. Instead of the allopathic approach, which is more like sick care than health care, many Americans like myself choose a more holistic approach to maintaining our health. Many, if not most, of those services are not covered by health insurance and therefore we would be stuck paying out of pocket for universal coverage that we do not want any part of. Given, I do admit that having coverage for the occasional ER visit would be a great thing for every American. But with our current health care system, my family can purchase an inexpensive plan for that specific purpose, and still have the money I need to pay for the holistic care I prefer – for example, chiropractic care, homeopathic care, etc.

Speaking of chiropractic care specifically, I know that Obama drafted a letter to the American Chiropractic Association (I believe) stating that his plan would include "all essential health care benefits" and that he believes chiropractic care plays an important roll in the preventative care system he wants our country to move to. He stated that he would like to implement a lot of changes that would allow chiropractic care to be covered in ways that it currently is not. But as of right now, in my mind, those are just campaign promises and until I see those 'unlikely' changes happen, I will vote against UHC. They need to happen before UHC is implemented.

Liz Szilagyi said...

Mandi, thanks for sharing. I agree 100% that your family shouldn't have to pay into expensive health care plans your family won't be using. Like chiropractics and what not. And I admire your efforts to take a more holistic approach to medicine. (I've read your food blog and find it fascinating, wish I had the gumption to be that healthy).

That's why I like the idea of leaving choice in the new Universal Health Care plan. And I totally don't blame you for voting "no" until you see those kind of choices on the bill. To me the ideal UHC plan would still let families choose to purchase an inexpensive plan that only covers the most basic things (like ER and what not). That's the same health care coverage I've chosen for our family, the least expensive one. I wouldn't want UHC to take that away. People who want to pay $600 a month for Kaiser should be able to and I'll continue paying $300 a month for my HMO.

What I fear people over look is that for every dollar we pay in taxes, one whole quarter goes to our current health care programs (Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP) and I just don't think those programs work very efficiently. And I think it's about time we took that quarter and put it into a program, ONE program, that ran a lot more efficiently. And in an ideal world we could even turn that quarter into two dimes and save ourselves some money.

Alison said...

I would never argue that healthcare, as it is now, is without flaw. However, after having worked in the medical field for the last 8 years, I will never agree with UHC being the solution.

And yes. I read your whole post. I can hardly believe it myself ;)

Alison said...

And Liz. You make some great points. I don't disagree with everything you said. We just see the idea in general through very different eyes.

Liz Szilagyi said...

So Al, can we both agree there is no solution? Cause I actually wouldn't disagree with that. And I am SUPER surprised you read my whole post. I LOVE YOU GIRL!!!

Alison said...

Yes!!! I don't think there will ever be a solution to make everyone happy. But there are definitely steps that could be taken to improve the situation and please a little more people on both sides of the poll.

Alison said...

PS - I can't wait to see what the supporting evidence is for this weeks poll!!!

Liz Szilagyi said...

Oh, and you know where I voted!

Alison said...

Right where I did. How do you face a breakup or quitting a job without rehearsing both sides of the conversation first?

Devin and Chrissy said...

Hello Ms Liz I am like the reat of your bloggers I dont argue with UHC. The one thing I do believe in is that we should all have it. I think this was a great post. Also you brought up some AWESOME Points

Alison said...

Yeah, Liz! I can do that for you. You with your bowl of cereal and me with my Diet Coke. Let's make a night of it, before your birthday even ;)

Liz Szilagyi said...

Thanks Al, I can't wait. I really love to hear other people's ideas on how to improve health care. Especially people who've been in the field. And I really can talk politics without being obnoxious and defiant, maybe not with Marie but with just about anyone else I can. :) I love you Marie!

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