Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Point of View

You may not remember me. I am Librarian Randy. I haven't posted in awhile but my friend Matthatter has given me incentive. There are few things I care more about than the health of my family. I have a two year old daughter and I hope, as I imagine all father's must, that she will live in a better world than the one I slogged through. I want her to live long enough to enjoy that world.

In a recent statistical analysis of infant mortality showing countries with the fewest infant deaths the United States was not in the top ten or even in the top twenty (U.S. News & World Report 142.11 (March 26, 2007): p46.). Who was in the top ten? Several countries with socialized medicine. Why should that be? We are told that health care is better in the US precisely because we do not have socialized medicine. Because our doctors can turn a very high profit for their work, they must be the best and brightest in their field (The Best Careers for 2007.
U.S. News & World Report 142.10 (March 19, 2007)). So why are our children dieing?

Our hospitals seem to be in trouble too. Though the not-for-profit institutions seem to be doing fairly well economically (Healthcare Financial Management 60.8 (August 2006): p.18) all hospitals in the US are having problems paying the bills. The common source of complaint? Lack of Federal Funding in the form of Medicare/Medicade payments (Physician Executive 29.5 (Sept-Oct 2003): p.6(10)). Hospitals across the country can not afford to pay the cost of the uninsured and under insured. Sadly, the average worker in the US does not earn enough to make his house payments let alone pay the rather extreme cost of even basic health insurance. This is a trend that is likely to continue and increase with the nation facing recession. Who is paying for this? We are. The well insured pay higher premiums and taxes in order to get medical care. The rest of us try to afford what health care we can and still pay higher taxes and get less benefit from what insurance we have. Medicare forms the backbone for most if not all insurance coverage. Current predictions suggest that Medicade/Medicare will fail in the next few years (The Increasing Cost of Health Care.
Health Care System, The. Ed. Barbara Wexler. 2007 ed. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007) without increased spending. Should that occur health costs will skyrocket to unimaginable heights.

So what are we going to do? My father, an immigrant to this country who traveled the world for most of his life, hated socialized medicine. He constantly told me of the long lines in Holland and the UK just to get an appointment with a physician. Sadly, though I have worked since I was fifteen and have two degrees I was not able to afford regular health care for myself until I turned thirty-nine. I still can not afford adequate insurance for my family and likely never will. I went for more than eighteen years between seeing a doctor. My two trips to the hospital, in that time, drove me into bankruptcy. My situation was not and is not unique. My father's complaints about waiting to see a physician held less and less weight for me when I knew year in and year out that I could not afford a doctor's visit. If we do not change the way we conduct health care in this country soon only the very wealthy will have access to medical care. I want my family to to be healthy. I want my daughter to live in a better world. I want some form of universal health care in this country. I don't care what you call it, mandatory national insurance, insurance cost caps or even socialized medicine, I want better access to health care for my family and child. A single uninsured visit to the hospital cost me my annual salary in 1999. Corporate recompense for employee medical insurance is the reason most American companies site for their inability to compete with foreign goods. Current medical insurance, far from giving us better access to health care is costing us more and getting us less annually. Something must be done. Raise my taxes. I can not enjoy my salary if I can not afford health care for my family.

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