The Post Office, Paved Roads, the Military, and Healthcare


The Republicans are offering absolutely no solutions or ideas to solve the healthcare crisis in America.  They are doing everything they can to keep the status-quo and to stop any conversation about how healthcare in the modern world can work to the benefit of all Americans.

The Democrats, as usual, are having problems organizing themselves.  Even with majority control in the House and Senate, and a Democrat in the White House, they can’t seem to seize this opportunity to pass legislation regarding Healthcare for all Americans.

Let’s think about this.  First, why is healthcare in this country linked to your job?  What does your employment status have to do with your access to healthcare at a reasonable cost?  The answer is not that complicated.  Nothing!

Healthcare as we know it was designed as an employee benefit.  “Come work for us and we’ll pay for your doctor visits and surgery if you need it”.  The intent of  Healthcare through your employer was not that it be the primary delivery system for Healthcare to Americans. 

I am having difficulty figuring out what societies did before Health Insurance companies existed.  As far as I am concerned, Healthcare is a basic human right.  Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and someone to help you when you are sick. 

Governments are supposed to exist in order to do things for the people that the people can’t do for themselves; regardless of social status.   I can’t write a letter and drive across country to deliver that letter to the recipient.  So the government invented the postal service.  If they didn’t why would there be a need for letters at all.  If I am going to drive across country to deliver a letter to Grandma, then I’ll just tell her in person when I get there.

People need to get from point A to point B.  If that is with a car, so be it.  If it is with a bus, train, or plane, so be it.  But I personally cannot pave my own roads; nor can I construct my own railroad to get me where I want to go.  So the government, at the will of the people, builds roads for cars and buses, and railroads for trains.   It all makes perfectly good sense.  In a democracy we vote to send a representative to a central location and get things done that we need done on our behalf.  As a result, we pay taxes to collectively finance all of these products that we as a group have decided we want.

Now to Healthcare.  Everyone, and I mean every single person in the world, will need medical care at some point in his or her life.  We cannot diagnose and treat ourselves.  So we, as a nation, must decide how we are going to provide this basic human need to everyone who needs it.  This concept is not difficult to understand, is it?

I don’t think I will ever understand how Health Insurance companies came into being.  I understand auto insurance and property insurance.  If you own a vehicle and get into an accident, it is not a right that the general public pays for your bad driving.  And since we all can’t afford a house, we all shouldn’t pay for your house if it gets damaged by flood or fire.  We may, as a community, decide to help you on our own, but it is not the government’s job to reimburse you for your own personal luxuries.

Safety.  We want to feel safe; in fact we want to BE safe.  I cannot personally protect this entire country from enemies, both foreign and domestic.  So we collectively as a nation decide to allow our government to do that for us.  Again, we’re back to democracy here.  Each person may be called upon to help in the fight but it doesn’t make much sense for each person in America to be left alone to figure out how to protect the country, or themselves, from invaders and then act upon it.  We need a centralized protection organization.  That’s our Armed Services.  And we collectively ask our government to protect us.  And we ask our government to fund it.

All of these collective services provided to us by the government are not based, and cannot be based, upon one’s financial ability to pay.  These services are funded through taxes.  And in a perfect world the taxation of each person in this country would be completely fair.  The more money you have, the more you pay in taxes.  That’s how democracy works.  Especially when it comes to providing basic needs to its citizens.  Remember, the government is there to do things for the people that they are not able to do for themselves, at the direction of the people. 

So why is Healthcare any different?  First, we have to get past the notion that healthcare is a luxury; it is not.  We all need medical attention at some point in our lives; beginning with the day we are born and the doctor slaps us on the behind.

Rich people will always have more luxuries than poor people.  I don’t think we can change that.  But we don’t provide better roads to rich people, and we don’t provide a better military to rich people, and our parcels don’t get to where they are going any faster for the rich people.  So why is it, then, that rich people get medical treatment and poor people don’t?

Again, you need to get past the notion that medical treatment is a luxury.  Healthcare is essential to any society; whether it be proactive, preventative care, or treatment for an accident, illness, or disease.  We all need it regardless of your social status and therefore it should also be provided by the government.  If a rich woman and a poor woman both have breast cancer, should the rich woman get the treatment she needs and the poor woman be allowed to just die in pain?

Right wing conservatives are trying the scare the public into believing that Obama’s healthcare plan will weed out the weak ones.  In fact, it is our current healthcare system that is doing that right now.  It is Barack Obama and the democrats who are trying to stop it.

I lost my job is April of 2007 and was out of work until October 2008.  As a result, I went without health insurance for a year and a half.  When I finally landed a job, that happened to provide health care as an employee benefit, I was still turned away due to “pre-existing” conditions.  I have a three thousand dollar annual deductible and NOT ONE of the doctor visits regarding my “pre-existing” condition are even applied to that deductible because the expenses don’t qualify.  I was told by my insurance company that the only reason my pre-existing condition wouldn’t be paid for is because I let my health insurance lapse.  If there were no lapse in coverage while I was unemployed, everything would be covered.  The point here is that health insurance companies are saying “You had health coverage, then you didn’t for a while, so we’re not going to let you screw us by only getting insurance when you have an illness.  You have to pay into the system ALL THE TIME in order for us to make any money”.  The reasons for my lapse in coverage are of no significance to them whatsoever.  The fact that my monthly insurance premium would have been more than my unemployment check was of no significance. The rules are the rules.  As a result of this I am bankrupt and still trying to pay off medical bills from 2 years ago. 

The only reason I mention all of this now is because one relatively short story about one of my experiences with healthcare tells almost the whole story about healthcare in America.  Lost job, lost insurance, can’t afford insurance, don’t get needed treatment, get new job, still don’t get needed treatment, escalating costs to treat me because I went untreated for so long.

This is what is happening in America today.  Insurance companies exist not to pay for health care, but to figure out how NOT to pay for health care.  Without this piece of the puzzle, insurance companies wouldn’t make any money.  The Republicans also talk about our health care system being second to none.  Not true.  We rank 36th or 37th in the world.  The Republicans say that there is plenty of competition in the insurance industry and therefore, we don’t need a public option.  Well if there are 1300 health insurance companies in the United States and all 1300 of them can simply say “no, we won’t take you because you are too risky” then where exactly is the competition for my business.  Without a government financed health insurance program, the “for profit” insurance companies have not reason to lower rates, accept everyone, or pay for more claims.  Nobody is competing for my business because I need them more than they need me.

What if insurance companies were not allowed to be “for-profit”?   What if their goal was to keep America healthy instead of making investors money?  How is it that investors are allowed to make money off of an insurance company that finds ways to NOT pay for someone’s operation, or doctor visit, or referral to a specialist?  How is it that insurance companies are allowed to earn a profit by denying life-giving treatment to the sick and dying?  “Hey we didn’t pay for millions of people to get healthcare so here’s your dividend, Mr. Investor.  Sure, people died, but you got a check”.

So it’s not all that complicated is it?  Every American needs healthcare just like every American needs the post office, the military, and roads to drive on.  These “needs” are the same regardless of race, religion, or economic status.  They are the same for the young and old, rich and poor, healthy and sick. 

Therefore it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every American gets equal healthcare.  We know the system won’t be perfect.  To keep the metaphor alive, it is true that while everyone is America needs infrastructure like roads, not all roads are paved equally well all the time.  But at some point, every road gets repaved.  And there is not sign on that road that says “this road is for wealthy people only”.

Now, I’m sure the wealthy would like to differ.  They probably think that because they are wealthy they deserve better roads that only they can drive on.  But they do not deserve better roads, a better military, a better post office, or better healthcare.  By order of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we are all equal.  And when the government provides services to the people that the people cannot provide for themselves, healthcare should be one of them.

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