Helen Villines 12:30 p.m., Dec. 12
I am 29 years old, an American citizen and I have health insurance. Most of my friends and family members are healthy and even fewer have ever had a major surgical procedure or been diagnosed with a terminal illness - yet.
I rarely use my insurance because I am healthy but I skip regular check-ups because of the large increase in co-pays and out of pocket expenses. I understand the importance of the health care legislation currently dominating the headlines but I do not understand the anger dividing the country. More troubling however, is my generation’s apathy towards the issue. I am not sure if it is because good health brings with it a false sense of security or because attempting to make sense of the coverage seems impossible.
The majority of AM radio and primetime TV programs are deliberately deceitful and clearly biased on the issue. National news programs have given way to loud-mouthed hosts, many recovering alcoholics and addicts themselves, with the ability to rile up crowds with lies. Instead of news, we get opinions filtered with technological displays, polls and an unnecessarily large amount of viewer input. Do we really need to know what allamerican57 in Arkansas just twittered? It scares me to think of the future of TV journalism when the likes of Bill Moyer and Dan Rather stop reporting.
The biggest misconception mass media is helping to perpetuate is that this legislation piece is about reforming the health care system. If that were true, Congress would be debating things like access to preventive health education, the inclusion of eastern medical practices and medicinal herbs, hospital equipment upgrades and issues that actually pertain to improving the health of individuals and the workplace for nurses and doctors.
Instead, they are debating coverage for patients with pre-existing health conditions, insurance costs, frightening senior citizens with claims of less coverage and the vilest of things – a public health care option. To hear some in the media portray the issue at hand, you would think the government is proposing to dispatch representatives to hold open hospital doors while yelling, “Come one come all.”
Plain and simple, this legislation is about health insurance and the financial piece of pie the companies currently providing health insurance do not want to lose. What role does the insurance company have in our well-being? Do they perform surgical procedures? Do they provide nutrient and health information/advice? Do they conduct research for cures? No. They are middlemen, simply a method for doctors and hospitals to receive payment for their services.
Through taxation, the government also plays the role of intermediary for programs like Social Security on the federal level and police and fire departments at the state level. Yes, there are problems, scandals even, with many of these departments, but you know what? I am not exactly thrilled with the customer service I get from my large health insurance provider either.
Technically, I have the right to change insurance companies, but financially it is an option I cannot afford because my employer chooses the insurance provider, who in turn gives him a rate based on the number of employees. The bigger, the company, the less it costs each individual. This is why so many of my friends do not have health insurance. When their employer does not offer the option, there is no one they can pull together with to negotiate costs – at that point, it is every man for himself, and it is not cheap.
We are distracted from the real facts affecting health care with issues that have long proven successful in dividing us. Issues that can be reduced to one or two words, like socialism, capitalism and the old scapegoat - the illegal immigrant.
It may come as a surprise to some, but we are a mixed economy, all Western civilized countries are. One of the biggest defenses for capitalism and preventing socialism is that a society in which all the participants have equal standing and equal access to all the economic resources is a society in which citizens lose the incentive to work, which in turn causes an overall reduction in productivity. This is a great argument for many aspects of our economy, but not for healthcare. Giving all Americans access to medical treatment does not mean they will have the incentive to get sick. How many people do you know would continuously make themselves ill to cheat the system the way some cheat, say, unemployment.
No where in the healthcare bill are illegal immigrants given the same right as American citizens, but certain politicians and entertainment hosts want us to believe that they are. Why? Because so many Americans pretend we are not a nation of immigrants and adamantly oppose diversity. Illegal immigration will continue to be a scapegoat until we pass legislation that punishes those who employ the illegal immigrants. Here in CA for example, we could have our prisoners use their allotted outdoor time to pick strawberries instead of playing basketball and lifting weights. Speaking of prisoners, you know what they have that we do not? Access to health care.
Congress is supposed to represent the people, so maybe it is time they are treated like the people. Effective immediately, the President should declare all members of congress independent contractors. Our taxes will continue to pay their salaries but they are on their own for health insurance, unless they are sixty-seven years old, at which point they can opt for Medicare. I wonder how many of them would still argue against allowing all Americans a right to choose who they pay for their access to health care.
We can continue to ignore the success Europeans and dozens of other countries have had with this type of access to health care. We can continue to act as if this issue requires us to draw political party lines. We can even continue to pretend as if the insurance companies and our personal freedoms are the victims.
However, one thing we cannot ignore is that we are the fattest country in the world. Despite a healthy dining surge in cities like our own, as a whole, our nation is daily packing on the pounds. A health care crisis is practically imminent. How is the legislation we set today going to impact our future? Will it benefit us as a society or will health insurance be the next decade’s financial collapse?
Just once, I would like to believe a member of Congress when they say it is about us – the people. I get the feeling it is about them and their upcoming election, which they will likely win thanks in part to large contributions from the insurance sector. There is a connection here somewhere to health care reform… really there is, it is just intentionally muddled.
The health legislation that Congress will eventually pass will have so many amendments that it will be more of the same; I do not think I will see a change. But then again, the environment is climbing a steeper mountain and the way things are going with legislation on that front, Mother Nature may see to it that I do not reach old age. The war front is an equally gloomy picture. So I kind of feel like why I should care, but at the same time I am tired of paying for my predecessor’s legislation errors; surely, I am not the only one?
The constitution clearly states we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My life will end one day and I know I will not have a choice in how death comes for me. However, I believe I am entitled to have access to medical care that may extend my time on earth and it would be really greedy and hypocritical of me to think that not every American warrants the same right. Grandparents currently on Medicare and the baby boomers who will apply for benefits within the next couple of years are not that greedy are they?