Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well, well, well...

Another piece of tighty righty anti-single-payer propaganda turns out to be a lie. Turns out that the U.S. is *not* being overrun by Canadians desperately fleeing the depraved Canadian healthcare system. Rather, most of the Canadians using the U.S. healthcare system are doing so because they (duh) LIVE HERE. Or so close to here (i.e., border towns closer to a U.S. city than to a Canadian city) as to be little different from living here.

Meanwhile, a million desperate Californians seek medical treatment in Mexico every year because they cannot afford healthcare in the depraved U.S. mercenary healthcare system. And there are still people who assign a dollar value to human life? Did Jesus assign a dollar value to human life when he preached the Sermon on the Mount? Did Thomas Jefferson assign a dollar value to human life when he wrote "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"? No. The founders of our country saw life as an unalienable right granted by the Creator, not as something granted by dollar bills.

Back in 2007, I noted the situation in Norway, which is an odious hellhole of poverty (one in 85 Norwegians is a millionaire, as vs. 1 in 125 Americans), the longest lifespan in the world, income equality (their middle class has over 50% of the nation's wealth, as vs. under 30% here in America), an improving standard of living for their middle class (the opposite is true here, U.S. median income went *down* in real terms during the Bush era)... and I noted then, "Crap, if that's what socialized medicine and high taxes do for a people, gimme some of dat!" I was being snarky, of course -- there are some aspects of the Norwegian socialized medicine system that I do not like and would not want for America (in particular, the fact that most medical providers work for the government, I prefer systems where the government stays out of providing medical services and sticks with what it's good at, i.e., extracting money to pay for medical services from taxpayer pockets and transfer it to private medical providers), but Norway is hardly the sort of grey Stalinist nightmare that the right-wing propagandists are always noting. It's a beautiful and prosperous nation where people are happy, healthy, well educated, and content with their situation.

Meanwhile, as I pointed out yesterday, the U.S. increasingly *is* becoming that sort of Stalinist nightmare for sick people seeking medical treatment... Kafka's The Trial, except with medical bureaucrats working for insurance companies rather than with government bureaucrats working for The People, where people are regularly condemned to death for crimes that have nothing to do with anything they've done in their lives and everything to do with easily survivable medical conditions they were born with that the current U.S. system refuses to properly treat. Most diabetics, for example, could survive a regular lifespan if given good access to current technology for treating diabetes, and the costs of things like insulin pumps and advanced blood sugar monitors is hardly outrageous compared to the costs of organ transplants to replace organs killed by poor insulin control or the costs of amputation and prosthetics for limbs killed by poor insulin control. Yet most insurance will not cover diabetes treatment at all... because there's no profit in it. And so people die. For no reason at all, except for the profit of greedy oligarchs. Kafka would nod in recognition, indeed.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin


  1. Pharmaceutical companies run our healthcare system. There is no money in preventative or alternative care. Only in shoving pills down someone's throat.

  2. And pretty smart financial managers as well I hear as they bought at the bottom of our crashing market and made some nice buys for their future.

    Of course, there is no real bottom to our market's crash yet. No matter what the "green shoots" crowd says.

    Thanks for your wisdom, BT.


    but Norway is hardly the sort of grey Stalinist nightmare that the right-wing propagandists are always noting. It's a beautiful and prosperous nation where people are happy, healthy, well educated, and content with their situation.

  3. Have a Canadian acquaintance who broke his leg (double compound fracture) in the US and wanted to be flown back to Canada to be treated. He stated the care was as good or better and cost, well nothing. And he had to pay for insurance here to be here and work in his profession. And this was years ago when the costs here were not as great. Of course most any system that treats all of it's citizens equally is better than what we have.

  4. yep, govt-employed doctors, can't have that.

  5. Hi, Hipparchia. I've had care at government-run hospitals and clinics before and it was good care by good doctors, but there's a certain impersonal-ness about the experience that for me is offputting. I did it because I was young and poor, not because it is something I would deliberately choose if I could afford different. We as a nation have the wealth to have individual doctors who can set up their offices to meet the needs of their individual customers, the VA/Kaiser/etc. model is very efficient but some folks just don't like something that big and impersonal for their primary care physician...

    - Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

  6. I look at government employed docs/heath care (not the same as government paid health care) like I do Southwest Airlines. For many years the seating was first come first serve. An egalitarian concept but I found it to be a bigger pain than having an assigned seat. Impersonal and I felt even more like a piece of baggage - just sit down and shut up. My experience with military health care makes me think that government health care would be the same. Take a number, sit down and shut up.
    But single payer, universal health care? It might not be nirvana but way better than what a lot of us currently have - the Bush emergency room route.

  7. "Yet most insurance will not cover diabetes treatment at all... because there's no profit in it."I wonder if the "free market" barons might go to war if diabetes control were forced to be covered by insurance companies?

    Can you picture it? PepsiCo vs HealthNet, or Frito Lay vs Blue Cross, or McDonalds vs Kaiser.


  8. i've spent my entire life being a high-maintenance person, healthcare-wise, almost all of it in the private sector, and have run into the entire gamut from my doctors being close personal friends to drs whose personalities would peel paint off of cars, from one-dr practices to the mayo clinic model. my few experiences with publicly-provided care have mirrored this.

    my experience has been that the personal/impersonal divide is more a function of the individual physician you end up with and less a function of how the providers were organized.


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