One of the most volatile political issues currently being discussed in the United States is universal health care, or to cal a spade a spade, socialized medicine. Health care costs in this country have gone totally crazy. It now costs me $53 for a fifteen-minute chat with my doctor. That is insane.
There are many reasons for the skyrocketing costs of health care. The blame has been put on litiginous pateitns who file frivilous malpractice suits, on the courts for the high awards for malpractice that force insurers to charge more which means they have to raise the inusrance rates they charge doctors which means the doctor has to charge more. Blame has also been put on the doctors themselves, for their fancy life-styles, for their greed, etc, and that blame is probably well-deserved. The whole health care system stinks and needs to be completely overhauled.
Proper health care should be available to every American and not only to those who can afford the current high costs. Doctors are not investment brokers, providing a service to people with money to burn. They are, whether they realize it or not, public servants, like the police or firemen. They provide what is an essential service, not a perk for the rich.
And, if the only way to get them to understand that is to federalize the medical profession, so be it. Hospitals and medical clinics need to be treated the same way as police departments and fire departments. They should be supported by public funds and they should charge the same as the police and fire deparments do – nothing – for their services. Imagine paying a police officer who just prevented your daughter from being raped thousands of dollars. Or paying thousands of dollars to the fire deparment for putting out the fire at your house.
But that is exactly what we do when it comes to health care. It cost me over $6,000 to have my daughter’s tonsils taken out several years ago. When my youngest, Michael, was a month old, he had to have emergency surgery for a dective pyloric valve in order to keep him from dying which cost me thousands of dollars. These incidents are, morally speaking, no different from the policeman saving her from rape or the firemen preventing my house from burning down. Whhy should a doctor get rich from my children’s misfortune and the policeman or the fireman has to literally fight city hall to get a raise? That is not right and I don’t care what arguement you offer, there is no way to justify it.
Yes, a medical education is expensive, but no more so than that of a college professor or a high-quality teacher, yet they make far less money than a doctor. Hell, most doctors make a lot more than the President of the United States! You cannot tell me that a doctor has more repsonsibility for human life than the person who could easily destroy the entire planet by starting a nucglear war.
Medicine, and that includes doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies, not the lawyers and the plaintiffs in malpractice lawsuits, are the ones most responsible for turning health care into a very lucrative big business. People used to become doctors for the most altruistic of reasons; nowadays they do it for the money and the social prestige.
I don’t know whether the system can ever be totally salvaged. To do so would require the nationalization of doctors, hospitals, medical education and the pharmaceutical companies. I don’t see our politicians having the courage and moral fiber to resist the blandishments of the medical lobbyists, especially from the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies (for some idea of the depths of the moral depravity of the pharmaceutical companies, read this article).
So, if we do get universal health care, it may, as some of its critics argue, be a lot more expensive than most people think. And it will remain so until we get a generation of politicians willing to take on the health care establishment full force. But, something is better than nothing and we have a moral responsibility to support universal health care just as we have to see to it that everyone in our communities has police protection and fire protection services.
A final aside: If we stop spneding billions every year trying to force oue way on other countries like Iraq, we would have a lot more to spend on things like universal health care. We need to go back to leadning by example rather than by force. It was our example not our guns that brought down the Iron Curtain and brought the beginnings of democracy to Central and Eastern Europe.
Americans used to be loved and respected around the world for what they were and what they had. Now we are feared and hated for what we might do. Time to go back to being the light that shines in the dark instead of the bully who jumps out of the shadows.