Friday, March 26, 2010

Just the Facts, Please

I have to say that I'm already sick (no pun intended) of the debate on healthcare in the United States. Some people really hate the new law, some love it. Some people like parts of the bill, but dislike other parts. This is America, so everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm not annoyed by people having different opinions. I don't mind debate. But for God's sake--please, please debate based on facts. The amount of insane conspiracy theories and melodramatic rhetoric is nothing but a huge mud wrestling match. It's not amusing when the lives of people are at stake.

First, if you're going to scream "socialism", get your definitions straight. Socialism is strictly defined as giving up individuality for the community, to the point where creativity and individual talent is stifled. I don't see how trying to provide healthcare for uninsured citizens fits this definition. What happens in Europe and in Canada is often referred to as "democratic socialism", and is not the same as this strict definition. Society is basically democratic, but the government controls just about everything commercially. Citizens pay very high taxes, but they are taken care of when they are sick, and when they get old. At least that is how the system is supposed to work, and it works quite well in some countries. However, the U.S. isn't even close to that kind of a system, though this may be the sort of thing dissenters are really pointing at. Healthcare in a wealthy country like ours should be as basic a service as police protection and fire department services.(And by the way--threatening lawmakers with death when you didn't get your way makes you seem a bit...I don't know...totalitarian? If you live in a glass house...)

Secondly, if you're worried about "death panels" and compromised medical care, I have bad news--that happens already with our for-profit insurance companies. Insurance companies would rather see you die than pay your claims. If they can weasel their way out of paying because of some loophole in your policy, they will try to do so. This may not be as big of a deal for doctor visits, but if you have to go to the hospital, you're screwed if your insurance company doesn't pay, unless you're really wealthy. I know people who have had heart surgery, cancer surgery, lung surgery--these things cost tens of thousands of dollars, and no matter how much you follow insurance company procedure beforehand, all it takes is for your surgeon to call in one doctor while you're on the table that's not covered by your plan, and guess what? You have to pay that doctor's bill. The doctor has the right to do it, so you can't blame him. And it may cost thousands of dollars. If you're a woman getting an annual gynecological exam, and your doctor finds a mysterious lump or evidence of cancer, it is very common for insurance companies to deny you the right to surgery--they tell you to "wait". In short--if you think healthcare in this country is "just fine", you obviously have not dealt with anyone who has a serious illness requiring hospitalization in the last 15 years. When my ex-husband had surgery, it took me 2 YEARS to sort out his medical bills, all of which were supposed to be covered by our insurance. They found all kinds of ways to try to avoid paying. If the sick person had to deal with it on their own, they probably would have a relapse. It is extremely stressful and complicated.

Third, the people raging against government control are either directly benefiting from government handouts, or expect the government to manage other aspects of American life. I'm sure none of them would back getting rid of Social Security or Medicare, for starters. I think they need to take a look at exactly what they are fighting and why.

Which brings me back to facts. I can relate my own opinions and experiences, but you should check the facts to formulate your own. You don't do this by watching Glenn Beck, listening to Rush Limbaugh, or even watching Jon Stewart or Bill Maher. Fliers handed out by activists and chain e-mails are also unreliable. Go to the non-partisan, non-profit organizations that exist to read and interpret policy for citizens. Here are a couple:

Enough with the partisanship, the hypocrisy, and the hysterical screaming and threats. Don't get me started on civility (I already blogged about that)--just realize that some of you sound like two-year-olds throwing a screaming fit because you didn't get your way. It adds no credibility to your protests, either as citizens or politicians. If there are really problems with this law, deal with it factually and like adults. Don't get caught in the trap of "emotional contagion" and "herd mentality". By doing that, you're actually moving us towards the thing you claim to be fighting against--violent suppression of the freedom to disagree.

And now my friends have to promise to slap me if I deal with a politically charged topic in this blog again.

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