Young people might find it hard to believe that folks didn't much worry
about health care in the old days (i.e. 1940's, 50's). It wasn't cheap,
but working adults managed it pretty easily. Even if one had a serious
med emergency, it was like maybe having to contract for a new roof
covering or buying a car. The financial ruin that the uninsured now
face was pretty much unheard of.
Then came the "Miracles of Modern Medicine", like the iron lung. :-)
Pretty soon there were all manner of new and very expensive med
tests and procedures to guide/aid treatment.
Most employers eventually picked up on the fact that med insurance
was an effective and logical perk.
Med costs continued to accelerate, the insurance industry decided to
focus on ever-more-expensive full-coverage policies for those who
could afford them (and to hell with those that couldn't).
Med insurance became a form of "social extortion": if you didn't
have it, you were putting yourself and family in a position of
unacceptable financial risk.
Price gouging eventually ran rampant. Price increases wildly in
excess of those in other industries became the norm.
It wasn't enough for them. They found that hair-splitting legal
teams could deny payment for treatment of anything that could be
conceived of as a "pre-existing condition" (or other legalese),
leaving much more money for their executive bonuses, etc.
Folks generally just pay the premiums, having little idea what
med conditions are actually covered and which would not be.
Something akin to paying out-the-nose for insurance that may
-not- be insurance.
The medico's hate the insurance folk b/c they know they take 25-40%
of the money out of the game and add nothing medical.
The insurance folk hate the medico's b/c they know they are always,
busy, busy, busy running unnecessary tests, procedures, etc.
Europe, Canada, etc have functional if somewhat troublesome med
If both the private and public sectors were working properly, you could
flip a coin. Or just leave things as they are. But private US health ins.
has clearly failed, and gov't largely "belongs" to certain moneyed
interests (witness the trillions for the alleged "Bank Bailout").
Such moneyed interests regularly pour millions of dollars into
contributions and lobbying public officials. Their influence cannot
rationally be denied.
Clearly Medicare is vastly more functional than private insurance in
the US. But the population is terrorized re demon "socialized
medicine": what would happen if a government program worked like the
SEC worked with Madoff & Co.?
The country is insanely divided into contentious groups given to little
more than sectarian bickering.
We are now in a position to window-dress (only) to avoid admitting defeat.
Baucus appears to belong to Wellpoint. The Obama crew appears to belong to
United Health Care. All of this spells D-E-N-I-A-L (of any real solution,
and perhaps of the actual problem as well).
Why lie about it? Health care, like food and shelter, is one of the
most important requirements of a society. To admit that we cannot
manage it now might some day motivate folks to actually do something
substantial about it.