GLOBAL HORIZONS by Edward Flattau
RELEASE DATE: Upon Receipt 8/05/09
HEALTH CARE DOUBLE SPEAK
By Edward Flattau
Right Wing radio talk show hosts are having a field day distorting President Obama’s proposed health reform plan, and unfortunately, are all too often winning converts among the uninformed.
Here are some of these ideologues’ most frequent misrepresentations that are daily filling the airwaves.
The American health care system is the best in the world and just needs some tweaks rather than any major overhaul.
The quality of care offered by our medical system is unrivaled, but only if—and this is a big “if”— one can afford to pay for it. In regard to the big picture, we have lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, and a much smaller percentage of the population medically insured than other industrialized countries, despite spending substantially more per capita on health care.
If foreigners have major health problems, they make a beeline to our shores for treatment.
That may be true if they have deep pockets and know of some world class American specialist. If they aren’t extremely wealthy, then not so much, and besides, we are not the only country that has outstanding specialists. Indeed, the Right Wing talk show hosts neglect to mention the increasing pilgrimage of middle class Americans to modern Asian hospitals for surgeries they could not afford at home. These foreign luxurious, top of the line hospitals were expressly set up for such clientele at rates that enable Americans to cover air fare, the expense of a traveling companion, and some post-operative sightseeing (strength permitting) and still come out ahead of what it would have cost at home.
In Canada and Britain, there is government-funded universal “socialist” health care. Bureaucrats choose patients’ doctors and course of treatment, regulate appointment times, subject ill individuals to excessive waiting periods before seeing a physician or an aide, and deny life-saving medications for monetary reasons.
Patients choose their doctors in these two countries, and those doctors decide the type and timing of the care (which is more than one can say for some American private health insurance programs where corporate executives determine the ultimate course of treatment). There are shorter waits for elective surgery in the United States, but British and Canadian individuals requiring emergency or urgent care are seen promptly, just as patients are here. Medications are cheaper in those two countries where they are rationed by need whereas here, prescription drugs are rationed by cost.
We have de facto universal health care coverage because by law, no one is denied admission to our hospital emergency rooms.
This is a specious argument. Any serious condition needs continuous follow-up, which is currently beyond our system’s capacity. A single emergency room visit by an uninsured person who is found to be chronically ill is nothing more than a cruel awakening.
Government intervention would muck up our health care system and increase the cost to consumers.
Medicare and the Veterans Administration do a pretty good job of overseeing care at a lower cost to the consumer. And what if a federal law were enacted mandating that a course in preventive medicine be part of the curriculum of every high school in the land? Since teenagers tend to think they are invincible, they might be dismissive of the classroom message, but chances are that upon reflection in the more sobering years of adulthood, they would remember the lessons before it was too late. How could Right Wingers oppose such a low cost, potentially high benefit initiative?
@Copyright 2009, Edward Flattau