Not an Article, just a Question

2009 October 16

by Michael Parmele

So, as we started the Journal of the New American Bull Moose, we, the Founders, wanted to start the non-partisan conversations that would lead to citizens finding solutions to the issues facing the country.  Tonight, I don’t have a well reasoned article, opinion, or treatise.  I have a question, to start a conversation. 

That question is: WHY IS ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE NOT A RIGHT?

Why is it that an individual’s ability to receive healthcare in this country is determined by the accident of birth?  Why is it that my 9 year old nephew and 6 year old niece will never have to worry about being seen by a doctor, receiving tests, treatments, and diagnoses, because their parents are both graduate degree holders, working in a lucrative field?  While, at the same time, what must be thousands of children in this country, the same age as my nephew, just as unique, just as special, just as cute, are not able to see a doctor, receive the same tests or treatments, because their parents are unemployed, underemployed, or overemployed in low wage jobs. 

I’m not saying that everyone in this country who has health insurance received it along with their silver spoon, hell, I’ve built my life, working for everything I have and pay my own health insurance.  But I stand on the shoulders of the giants in my family, just like the majority of people in this country now opposing healthcare reform. 

SO TELL ME, WHY IS ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE NOT A RIGHT?  That is the question at the heart of this debate. 

So, let’s start the actual conversation, convince me that anyone born in the richest, most powerful nation the world has ever known, does not have THE RIGHT to access to healthcare, or more accurately, the right to LIFE!

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lori d permalink
    October 17, 2009

    Since the writing of the constitution. We as Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not necessarily a great life, or a healthy life. We were also given the freedom to find happiness it wasn’t guaranteed. It’s a very slippery slope when we start twisting the words, what’s next to be provided by the government if we give health care? Shouldn’t everyone have three square meals a day, but not too much fat or carbs, and lots of veg? Shouldn’t the government provide that too if they are responsible for our “good” health. Then of course what about eliminating cigarettes and booze–not good for our health either. Then of course requiring our daily exercise , afterall it’s in our best interests. Start down this road and it’s a short hop to “1984″

  2. Mike permalink
    October 17, 2009

    Lori,
    Thank you for your comment. That’s a great start to the conversation. I appreciate what you are saying and I agree that, eventually, things are slippery. But the simple fact remains that 40,000 people die in this country every year simply because they don’t have health insurance. Not a terminal disease, not blindsided by a delivery truck. They don’t have enough money to pay for health insurance and, because of that one fact, THEY DIE. They would not be dead if they had health insurance.
    So, you’re willing to accept the fact that your government is willing to spend more than enough money to insure every man, woman, and child in this country, EVERY YEAR on war, but you don’t want to say reallocate that money to provide healthcare, in so doing, saving a minimum of 40,000 lives PER YEAR. That’s acceptable to you? It’s only about money. I don’t believe that anyone would say, “sure we have enough money to provide health insurance to everyone, but we’re not gonna do it because they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to be able to go to the doctor.” I find that hard to believe. So, we have enough money to pay for health insurance for everyone in this country and we choose to spend it on war, not health. We say that it’s more important to kill brown people than it is to save 40,000 lives PER YEAR.
    And just a point of philosophical order: We have had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness since the creation of the world, not since the Constitution. We were not given the freedom to find happiness, again, that’s a freedom with which we were endowed by our Creator. According to the Declaration of Independence, anyway.

  3. Mike permalink
    October 17, 2009

    Lori,
    Let’s also remember one thing, WE are the government. The government is not some amorphous “they,” it is us. So, when we talk about whether the government should do something, we are talking about whether WE, the People, should do something. And I, for one, am down with contributing as part of the village to make sure that my fellow countrymen do not DIE simply because they can’t afford to pay a FOR PROFIT insurance company, who does nothing but move money around, premiums.
    There’s another question in this whole thing: Why should insurance companies make a profit? What value do they add to the system? What do they create? NOTHING. Sure, they pool people together into risk pools so that the healthy people pay for the health care of the sick people, I get that. But the government could do that for less money. Look at Medicare. It runs great! Sure it’s underfunded because it’s full of old sick people. But if you talk to anyone who has Medicare, they will tell you that it’s great and they don’t want anyone to mess with it (I refer you to crazy woman from town hall in red shirt who doesn’t want any government take over of her Medicare). If Medicare is so great for people over 65, why does it suck for people 64 and younger? Medicare has lower overhead than private insurance companies and does not do everything it can to make a profit.
    Why not have Medicare for everyone? Put everyone in this country into the same risk pool and suddenly Medicare is properly funded (yes, you’ll have to adjust the taxes to get it into the black, but any tax increase, when taken with the fact that no one would have to pay private insurance premiums anymore, would result in a net savings). Sure you could still have private health insurance companies around to sell supplemental insurance, like they do in most other developed nations in the world who spend less than half the money we do on health care and have far better outcomes as far as care goes. But why does supporting Medicare for all make me anti-American? What’s the magical transition that happens on my 65th birthday that makes that plan the best thing ever, but when I’m 64, or 32, it’s socialism on the way toward dictatorship?

  4. Lori d permalink
    October 18, 2009

    First, I’ll begin by asking a question to you Mike, who are these 40 thousand people a year that die because of no health insurance? Anyone, at any time can walk into an emerency room and receive needed care. There are free clinics available too. If your poor or old, there is medicaid and medicare. I really(not sarcastically) don’t know who you are talking about. (I used to be an ER nurse–people are not turned away).
    Second, your question had nothing to do with my views on war, and where money is badly spent in our government and where I would reallocate funds. It’s a different question.
    Third, I understand we have God given rights, since the beginning of time, not constitution…etc. The History 101 lesson was unnecessary and a little petty. You got the idea.
    Lastly, the insurance companies have the right to profit because they are a company in a free country of free citizens. You as a free citizen have the right to start your own insurance company and make it a not for profit if you feel it is so important. The government should not take over because they cannot do the job for less and medicare does not run great. Sure they say they only have a 4% overhead, but they also have 500billion of waste and abuse each year. That would put an independent company out of business quickly.

  5. Mike permalink
    October 18, 2009

    Lori,
    Thanks again. Not being petty, just accurate. There is a large difference between a right granted by our Creator and given by white dudes in Philadelphia.
    I understand your argument about ER’s and free clinics and I’ll grant you free clinics, but aren’t ER’s supposed to be for emergent situations? Wouldn’t you, as a former ER Nurse, rather be taking care of the gun shot wound than the indigent family with a cold?
    Ok, the insurance company has a right to make a profit because ours is a free land, caveat emptor and all that. But it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth that, in order to make a profit, insurance companies have to take in more money than they pay out, and that means denying care?
    If Medicare does not run great, why doesn’t anyone want to do away with it? Why isn’t the opposition campaigning to end Mediare or Medicaid? If it truly wastes and abuses 500 billion dollars a year, why isn’t anyone campaigning to change it? I agree its underfunded, again because it’s full of old sick people, that’s a bad risk pool. If everyone in the nation is in the same big risk pool, then all of our risk is hedged properly. You don’t have insurance companies cherry picking healthy people and denying coverage to sick people.
    The current health care system in this country was set up by employers to get around salary caps set by the government post Depression, it’s not some divine system set down by Moses, I don’t understand the thought that we can’t change it, or shouldn’t change it. I’m not suggesting that you are making that argument (hopefully, as a former ER nurse, you more than me know that it needs changing).

  6. Lori d permalink
    October 18, 2009

    Hi Mike,
    now we have found some common ground–I absolutely think health care needs to be changed, but I’d change it by allowing the insurance companies to work across state lines. Competition is the best way to even the playing field. Also, even though I hate government intervention, I do believe that when playing with peoples lives a few regulations are in order–no refusal of pre-existing conditions, no caps on the amount of coverage in a year or lifetime, and some cap on how much premiums can be raised in a year. I know these couple of things won’t fix near to all the problems–but couldn’t we start there before going right to a socialized approach.

  7. Mike permalink
    October 18, 2009

    Harvard researchers published in the American Journal of Public Health a study which reveals roughly 45,000 American adults die every year because they are not covered by health insurance.

    Researchers specifically noted that lack of health insurance now kills more adults than kidney disease.

    Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper, who worked at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, said, “The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health. We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease – but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”

    The study, which analyzed data from national surveys carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessed death rates after taking education, income and many other factors including smoking, drinking and obesity into account. It estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually.

    Previous estimates from the IOM and others had put that figure near 18,000. The methods used in the current study were similar to those employed by the IOM in 2002, which in turn were based on a pioneering 1993 study of health insurance and mortality.
    http://www.ajph.org/

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