Sunday, April 15, 2007

the healthcare debate

Yesterday Giuliani gave a speech in Iowa at a Republican convention of some sort, and I must say that did a good job representing the cold-hearted conservative stance on healthcare. He warned his listeners that the liberals are trying to ruin the healthcare system in the US, and by ruin he meant “making it look more like that of France or England.” He proceeded to recount the story of how he survived prostate cancer. He pointed out that when he gives advice to fellow cancer victims he never recommends that they try such and such hospital or doctor in France or England. Why, you might ask… well that’s because the American system of private healthcare and competition makes ours one of the best in the world. He went on to boast about the quality of our hospitals and doctors, etc, and attributed their success to the fact that they must answer to the market.

Well, Giuliani, I am not at all surprised that you received some of the best care in the world. What I think you should consider, however, is that you are atypical. You have great insurance and wealth. And so, of course, you will be amongst the few elite who truly benefit from the American system. I beg you to consider, on the other hand, the many Americans without insurance and without financial resources. What good is a #1 healthcare system to the poor man or woman who is too poor to afford it?? You want to keep our system because it works for you, but what about the rest of the nation? What about the single mother with three kids who can barely feed her children let alone pay hospital bills. Do you think she would rather keep our system from the ruin you speak of? Doubtful. Maybe the English and the French don’t have it great, but at least they all have something. That’s more than we can say over here. So before you go praising the wonderful care you were privileged to receive, you may want to consider those who aren’t so lucky. Yes, you briefly mentioned that healthcare should be made more widely available, but how are you going to manage that if the system stays the same? Think about it.

Note: I say this as someone who not too long ago had the exact same reasoning as Giuliani. If we reduce competition, we’ll have lower quality care. And I wasn’t about to sacrifice the quality of a system that I am privileged enough to use. But, what good is higher quality that is available to only a few? You decide.

Consider this: “Nearly 46.6 million Americans had no health insurance coverage in 2005, and millions more had minimal coverage. If current cost trends continue, the number of uninsured will keep rising, potentially reaching 56 million by 2013.” (Henry J. Aaron and Joseph P. Newhouse, Meeting the Dilemma of Health Care Access)

More later.

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