Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our Decisions Regarding Health Care Could Result in a New Enlightenment Age or the Beginning of the End

Our current health care system is weakening and tearing apart the strands that hold together the fabric of our society more and more every day. Since 2000, employment-based health insurance premiums have increased 87%, rising four times faster than wages. Our out of pocket expenses, co-pays, deductibles etc, have increased 115% and the average employee contribution to company-provided health insurance has increased more than 143%.

The hospitals, insurance companies, and the government health care system are all driven by "economies of scale" thinking which base its decisions, not on what is best for the patient, rather decisions are based on what will result in enormous profits for the industries involved.

There is no safety net. Medicaid only covers a small fraction of people without health insurance. The eligibility rules vary widely state to state, and most states require people to be completely destitute parents to qualify. In some states working adults without children can get Medicaid coverage for themselves but only if they make less than, let's say 30-40% of the federal poverty level, or in other words, $3-4,000/year. Medicaid eligibility discourages people from working because most programs only allow people to earn a salary below the poverty level in order to qualify. Where is the incentive to work more hours or find better employment?

The bottom line is that it's next to impossible to secure health benefits for the average American today unless their employer offers it, and even then it's becoming prohibitively expensive. If we allow the health of American citizens to deteriorate in the most affluent country on earth, not only does it place a great burden on our labor force, infrastructure, and market system, it calls into question how civilized "We the People" really are. Ignoring the needs of the sick so that big industry can profit is heartless, insensitive, greedy and self-serving and much more characteristic of a barbaric society than the enlightened, continually evolving nation we claim to be.

We cannot continue to allow billions of our tax dollars to fund what is ultimately destructive to the public interest, and at the same time, refuse citizens who work hard, pay taxes, and play by the rules, decent health care. If we permit American citizens to fall into economic hardship because of health care costs, we are no different than the many"civilizations" that have gone before us, failing because of their inability to transcend the selfish, power hungry part of human nature.

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, is a common metaphor often applied to groups of people from small organizations to -- in an era of global economies and growing interdependence -- the world at large. However, although this statement is true as far as a chain and a broken link, fortunately, this analogy is only partially true when applied to society or government, because one broken link will not render society or government useless. The reality is the strength of the other links will normally compensate for the broken one and society will continue to function. "Fabric is only as strong as its weakest threads" might be more accurate when referring to how groups of people function. A broken health care system, if not mended soon, will inevitably unravel the societal fabric weaving us all together.

We are at a crucial crossroads in American history and our decisions regarding the value we place on the quality of human life could either result in a "New Enlightenment" age or signal the beginning of the end of what was a very noble experiment in democracy.

8 comments:

Anonymous,  11:08  

I see your point however I think you forgot to include that most Americans do not have the kind of power necessary to take on such a change.
It is the fault of the power hungry, greedy corrupt few at the very top, not the average American. You seem to imply average Americans are at fault.

But it is true that America has no excuse for failing to deliver health care to all of us.

ih82tellu,  11:19  

Average Americans elected the few at the top making the decisions and are responsible for what happens.

America elected Bush TWICE! If America really cared and started paying attention, none of this stuff would be allowed to continue.

Anonymous,  16:07  

another henny penny post...the sky is falling! They're all over the blog world.

W 17:04  

I don't think pinpointing who is to blame is very constructive as we can't change the past. However, we can't overlook the responsibility each citizen has toward his or her country and its citizens.

It's very hard to motivate the collective to action when most of the country is not experiencing hardship; the mainstream media is not reporting the real news; and our government is encouraging us to shop. At the same time, there is almost no excuse for claiming ignorance...information is literally one or two clicks away.

Thanks for your comments!

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