Second to global climate disruption, I think healthcare is the most important thing we should be talking about in America. There is not a one of us who hasn’t either had our own problems with our health insurance coverage or who knows someone who has. The stories of family financial devastation, denied healthcare and resultant illness and death portrayed in documentaries and on the news is staggering. This failing system can be directly attributed to draconian policies of the big health insurance giants to increase their own profits. These insurance companies have taken extraordinary measures to deny health coverage when you need it most, and even hired computer software companies to routinely design programs that cut payments to healthcare providers, which add additional patient co-pays, resulting in billions in revenue for the health insurance industry. They also stand up there with Wall Street financial institutions in big salaries and bonuses for execs and incentive payment to employees who manage to produce high denial numbers. The idea that pre-existing conditions should null and void all your good faith payments over the period of time you are in good standing is ludicrous to most doctors and nurses (see more here). In fact, most doctors and nurses stand with the people in crying for massive change. Sure, I know people who say they are perfectly satisfied with their healthcare provider. However, they also tell me that their premiums and co-pays are steadily increasing, making healthcare one of their biggest household expenses. The only people I hear about having a good experience are those who deal with EHIC renewal services in Europe. And what does that say to the 50 million uninsured Americans and the 50 million more of those underinsured? Those of us with small businesses are hard pressed to adequately insure our employees and maintain minimal profit margins.
It’s nice to know that our new president is using the words “prevention” as needing to be a part of the equation. Certainly those of you who practice safe aromatherapy at home know all about that. This is important, and we’ll deal with that in another post in more depth to do our part to hold his feet to the fire.
But, how should we now respond to the continuing debates in Congress and the aggressive dilution of effective legislation by lobbyists for the health insurance industry? Sure, we’ve signed petitions and sent emails indicating that 72% of us want single payer. Is that really enough to bring about the reform we desperately need? At one point the insurance industry promised to trim 1.5% of its costs and reprogram the money into healthcare. Two days later, they rescinded the offer. Their testimonies on the hill shed a public light on just how out of touch those execs are with the real world out here and glaringly portrayed them as not very interested in the human aspects of healthcare. As Congressman Dennis Kucinich reports, “of $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, $800 billion goes to the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. “ This means that one out of every three health care dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, lobbying and paperwork.” These costs are anywhere from 15-35% in the private sector as compared to Medicare (our existing single-payer system) which has only 3% administrative costs. Those politicians who take campaign funds from the private healthcare firms are taking the money and refusing to listen to us, the people.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t trust the current for-profit health insurance companies . . . in fact, only 4% of all other Americans trust them. I want better for my family, and I want to know that every American is equally taken care of.
The current bill going through committee in the house (HR3200) excludes single payer from the bill . . . and consequently from the debate, in spite of overwhelming support for single payer by the American people. Canada, England and most European countries already provide universal health care. Here in the U.S., hundreds of labor unions, thousands of physicians and nurses, and virtually millions of American stand behind a single payer healthcare plan. Are we going to sit back and let capitalism wage war on democracy?
Contact your representatives and senators now and tell them to support HR676 (currently with over 85 co-sponsors in Congress), which calls for a universal single-payer health care system in the United States. It’s a no brainer.