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John's Blog

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Great Debate

In the event that anybody still visits here (God only know I don't) I thought I'd repost an excellent piece from Graham Gudgin who has a case of raised hackles over the so called The Great American Healthcare Debate:
Entering a clinic in the US for the first time many years ago, I was shocked to find that the very first office door that greeted me was labeled "Financial Consultant." Shocked is not too mild a word to use. I think my Wife was surprised by my reaction. I really found it offensive. She was just used to it.

Healthcare is a huge issue in the news right now, as one of the things that President Obama promised if he got into power was "universal healthcare." Because I come from a country with so-called "socialized medicine," I have been asked many times just recently about how healthcare works in Britain. This is hardly surprising, since opponents of the proposed plan have often said things like, "We don't want a system like Britain or Canada" as if this is a bad thing. Even my own Doctor, during a routine check-up, started quizzing me about whether I preferred the US or UK healthcare system. I told him that, although not perfect, the National Health Service in the UK did ensure that everyone, whether they could afford it or not, was covered. His response was that anyone in the US could get free treatment in hospital emergency rooms. I didn't get a chance to say what I really wanted to, that I thought it would be really nice if the poor didn't have to wait until it became an emergency. Those who cannot afford health insurance either put off treatment, often until it's too late, or fill emergency rooms with non-emergency cases, stretching those already overworked departments.

Criticism of the National Health Service, mostly unfounded, by American opponents of Obama's plan has had a surprising effect amongst the British. A British friend wrote to me, "4 million Brits twittered in defence of the NHS almost crashing it. The debate is happening here---Fox news found an MEP (not MP), who defended the American 'healthcare only for those who can afford it' system, to spout some hysterical rightwing piffle. It has had a dramatic effect---the conservatives have gone from a shoe in, to an even contest in a week." He was talking about the opinion polls comparing the incumbent Labour party with the Conservative Party.

Conservatives in the US have been raising a very noisy protest against the proposals. Past vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin started talking nonsense about Obama creating "death-panels" of bureaucrats who would make life or death decisions about our nearest and dearest. While Obama and his supporters have talked about 47 Million people in the US being uninsured, there are people who deny those figures, mentioning illegal immigrants (who wouldn't be included in the count anyway), Millionaires (this includes property which people would have to sell if they needed healthcare) and people who are in the process of switching insurance. The figures are probably much worse, because poor people often take a gamble on health insurance, taking it out some years and not others.

The right-wing have also gotten many ordinary working people scared that they are going to lose their choice of coverage. In the UK, if you can afford it, you can take out insurance and be treated privately. However, if you cannot afford to do this, you're still covered. This is what's being proposed in the US. In fact people will have more choice, not less.

These scare tactics take advantage, I think, of a deep-rooted "take care of yourself" ethic in the US. Another friend of mine, this time in Canada, said, "They keep saying 'I don't want to be socialized' like public health care and caring about our neighbours is a bad thing." I think that not only is universal healthcare the right thing to do, especially for the richest country in the world, but it's short-sighted for individuals to only consider their own situation right now. What happens if you get laid-off from your job, or want to start your own small business? US healthcare is big business, and that is where I believe things go wrong. The health of our people is essentially an issue of infrastucture.

Do you still think the US healthcare system works just fine now? The World Health Organization would disagree.
|| JM, 4:56 PM

7 Comments:

Thanks for reposting my piece, John. It's something I feel very passionate about. Coming from a country with so-called "socialized medicine" I see how it can work. Conversely, I can see how the US system is so rigged against the less well-off. In fact, people in the US are being completely ripped-off!

The UK system is not perfect, but it's certainly better for the country.
Blogger Graham, at 8:15 PM  
The right has been stirring this pot for years; these are the same recycled issues that have been raised in the past. Look back at the arguments against Medicare when first proposed and there's definitely a sense of deja vu. It's far easier to scare the masses to fear the devil they don't know utilizing half truths and by using the dreaded label socialism. Let's hope that the voices of sanity prevail and overcome the current "noise" that masquerades as debate.
Blogger JM, at 10:43 PM  
Excellent article. I will put a link on my FB. The scare tactics and the way people eat 'em up blows my mind.
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Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:09 PM  
hayhyaaaaa
Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 AM  
Hello from Ukraine !

Yes, this the very interesting article, I'm in shock, this is USA ? !!!!

Sincerely,

Marina Demchuck.

Rivne [Rovno] Ukraine.
OpenID marinademchuck, at 12:23 PM  

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