I’ve decided to more actively pursue my dream of being published in one of the big news mediums. I had the opportunity to work with a local journalism effort in Annapolis, and I also have had an article published with Relevant Magazine, so I figure the next step is the Wall Street Journal. Right? 🙂 I’m a bit more realistic than that; with that realism, however, comes the acknowledgement that the WSJ (or CNN.com or whoever) is going to publish somebody, so it might as well be me. I’ve submitted a couple of opinion pieces to CNN and the WSJ; no luck so far. But the benefit of rejection by the big guys is that I can publish the full text on my own blog! (How’s that for optimism?)
So here’s a piece I wrote concerning healthcare. Oh, and a final thought. I’m confident that my writing is good. Now, that sounds arrogant, but I don’t mean it that way. I just mean that I’ve read enough articles to know that my writing is not inferior to a good bit of writing that gets published (though there certainly are those geniuses to whose talent I aspire). So posting my article on this blog is not an attempt to repair my wounded pride. It’s just a chance to put my thoughts in the public forum without getting paid. What I’m saying is, I appreciate compliments and flattery much less than I appreciate constructive criticism and dialogue or debate. You’re free to submit any of those; I just thought I’d put that out there.
How’s that for a lengthy preface?
National Healthcare: It’s Not About Compassion
The internet is still buzzing about last week’s Republican debate in which two miscreants from the crowd shouted “Yes!” to Wolf Blitzer’s question for Ron Paul: “Should we let an uninsured sick man die?” Now the Huffington Post has released a piece revealing that one of Ron Paul’s campaign managers in 2008 died in a similar circumstance.
The question swirling in the air is: “Are Americans compassionate?” I don’t know the answer to that one, and neither am I sure that the answer has anything to do with insurance coverage. But I have a different question – actually, three. “Are Americans greedy?” “Are Americans dishonest?” and “Are Americans negligent?”
Before answering those three questions, it’s worth examining the state of the American healthcare system. HealthPAC online reports that in 2006, the average family health insurance premium, provided through an employer health insurance plan, was $11,480 per year. More personally, I know a married couple who has just retired and is paying $900 a month for their health coverage. Who convinced them to do this? Who told us this is the way insurance is supposed to be? And how did healthcare become so expensive? Government regulation and intervention have played a role in driving up healthcare costs. But so have American citizens: hence my three questions.
Greedy? Do we want too much? Do Americans even think about the cost of care before receiving it? The prevailing attitude seems to be an unquestioning demand that if a treatment is available, it must be used. But have we really not seen the economic unfeasibility of such a demand? Do we really think that just because a millionaire could afford to pay for a medical procedure, the average middle-class (or low-income) American ought to receive the same procedure? What if every single American had an illness which would cost $1 million to cure? With 300 million Americans, there is simply not the wealth to provide such treatment. Who would we save? And what if “everyone” is not an allowable answer? The reality is that healthcare is an industry – a business – and just as not everyone can afford an iPhone, not everyone can afford every single treatment known to man. But everyone wants an iPhone, and everyone wants whatever treatment is available, regardless of the price.
Dishonest? Healthcare is not a right, and those who make that claim don’t really believe it. For there are two types of “rights” – those guaranteed by specific governments to their citizens, and those outlined in our Declaration of Independence as “endowed by our Creator” – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Healthcare is simply not a right under our national law. What, then, do they mean who contend that “healthcare is a right”? Do they mean that it is a “God-given right”? If so, I have heard no arguments for this assertion. The problem is that democracy has clouded our minds – we think that all people everywhere are equal in every way always. This is, of course, untrue – even worse, it is completely undefined. If it were true (and we were able to define what we mean by “equal”), one could imagine that the citizens of our country would be more concerned about tending to children in Africa dying of preventable diseases than about the countless non-fatal maladies that are treated in our hospitals daily.
Negligent? For a myriad of reasons – from industrialized food to sedentary lifestyles – America is a country full of knowledgable, unhealthy people. We know how to be healthy, and yet we are terribly unhealthy; this reality has contributed to our current sky-high healthcare costs. Take childbirth, which has in recent history become the most common reason American women go to the hospital. C-sections cost more money than natural deliveries, yet the rate of C-sections is rising, to the chagrin of many medical professionals. America had a cesarean-section rate of 32.9% in 2009, a rate that the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said is “undeniably high and absolutely concerns us as ob-gyns.” And yet the rate – and the hospital bills – continue to climb. We know what to do; we just don’t do it.
Are Americans categorically greedy, dishonest, and negligent? No. But if we do not begin to speak, think and act clearly with regard to the healthcare fiasco in our country, we may lend credence to those who would answer “Yes.”