Sunday, November 08, 2009

Pop-Top Health Care

Health care reform took another step forward last night with the passage of a bill in the House.

I don't know if we will ever get a bill or if it will cost a lot of money or if it will accomplish what I hope needs to be done. I hope it passes, but I don't have a lot of hope. If a bill passes and becomes law, flawed as it will be, at least we will have a framework which future generations can build on. Assuming they have more guts and foresight than current and previous generations.

Personally, I believe a single payer, government run system would be better, but we are not good at legislating big, contentious issues like health care. Isn't that a good reason for government to stay out of health care? Yes, except everyday we live with evidence that the alternative is worse.

I try to listen to lots of different ideas so I was interested in listening to stories about health care systems in other countries. Contrary to what you often hear, I think most people in these countries are satisfied with their health care systems. I heard about one country on NPR (National Public Radio, if you don't listen to it, you should) where you can call and talk to health care professionals day or night, and if your condition warrants it and you can't come in, they will send a doctor to make a house call. Amazing.

In the U.S., I believe we pay about twice as much per person for health care as other countries with government sponsored health care. We do benefit from some of the best health care in the world, if you can afford it.

But two other anecdotes really bother me.

I believe it was the man in charge of health care in Great Britain who said that no one in his country ever goes bankrupt trying to pay for health care. In the U.S., health care bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy. He also pointed out the people in Great Britain never have to worry about losing their health care because they lose their job.

In my office we have containers to recycle soda cans. Someone recently added old gallon milk jugs and asked people to tear off the pop-top tabs and put them in the jug to help pay the medical bills for a very ill two year old girl. I heard an official from a foreign country comment on NPR that they were taken aback the first time they saw such an appeal in the U.S.. He was shocked that a parent in the United States of America had to resort to begging to get money to pay for health care for their seriously ill child. That was unheard of in his country.

Think about, some parents in the United States have to beg for health care for their sick children!

The news this morning talked about a few Democratic members of Congress who threatened to stop the health care reform bill unless harsh anti-abortion language was added to the bill. The language was added to gain their votes. Abortion is a serious ethical issue and I understand that people can have strong beliefs on both sides of the issue, but this move really bothers me. Supporters of a woman's choice could take the same stand and refuse to vote for the bill unless the abortion restrictions are removed (the Hyde Amendment would still apply).

I have a question for people who think the current health care system is fine or would rather not have reform if they can't have their personal needs satisfied.

What do you think when you pass the milk jug begging for help for a sick child?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like we should all keep saving our pop tops.