Monday :: Aug 17, 2009

The Real Health Care Question: Who Are We, As A People?

by Turkana

The degree to which we have lost our way in the health care reform argument can be summarized thusly: we are talking about insurance coverage; we are not talking about health care. Our argument is actually very simple, and we need to keep it at the forefront of the debate. It is all over the terrific, personal diaries by Jerome and MinistryofTruth, but we still too often get bogged down by distractions. We need to state it and restate it. We need to start and end every argument with it. The only questions that matter are these:

Who are we, as a people?

What are our values?

Do we take care of our own?

Do we care for our own?

Are we a caring people?

Some may snicker, and some may refer to our bleeding hearts, but how can anyone claim to be about family values if they are okay with tens of millions of families having little or no access to health care? When people talk about the impact on the deficit, I ask which is more important, money or people? I ask why these same critics rarely think twice about funding an illegal, immoral, unnecessary war. I ask why so few of these same critics raised an eyebrow when Bush cut taxes by nearly two trillion dollars, without bothering to explain its fiscal impact. I ask why so few of these same critics bothered to consider the fiscal impact of the multi-trillion dollar banks bailout. What are their values? What are ours?

I don't care what happens to the health insurance industry. It serves absolutely no social good. It impacts the actual health care of actual people in many of the exact ways people wrongly say national health care would. Its purpose is to make money for its shareholders, not to care for the health of people and society. There is no excuse for its existence. Every other industrialized nation manages to provide health care for its people, but we can't. What's wrong with us? What's wrong with our values?

Some simple facts:

Our expenditure on health care, as a percentage of GDP, is second in the world.

And growing.

The last time it was rated, we had only the 37th best health care system in the world.

Our infant mortality rate is only 45th (this list is in reverse order).

Our life expectancy rate is only 50th.

Why do we spend so much, and get such poor results? What is wrong with us? Are those numbers anywhere close to being acceptable? What are our values? Who are we, as a people? Do we take care of our own?

Turkana :: 11:28 AM :: Comments (22) :: Digg It!