August 13, 2009

A is for 'Are you kidding?'

I've decided to borrow the alphabet memoir idea from Charlotte (sort of, since this isn't a memoir), starting with the letter A.

I was driving home from a playdate yesterday when I spotted an older man (at least 60) holding up a sign that said, 'Obamacare is unconstitutional.'

Well, duh, Mr. Medicare, any policy that has not yet been passed into law is technincally unconstitutional. Although as Lawyer Mom pointed out this is not technically true. . .

But I bet you wouldn't like it too much if the tables were turned and the funds dried up on your socialist health care.

So, let me just say that I'm not a lawyer, nor am I particularly informed about the current health care debate. In fact, I'm one of those lucky people who has decent, albeit expensive, health insurance so I'm naturally skeptic of anything that will benefit others that I have to pay for. But I'm also a Democrat and I watched President Obama in a AARP Town Hall meeting and a couple of things he said made a lot of sense:

1. US health care costs are way more expensive than just about anywhere else, including where medical insurance is 'socialized' and supplemented with taxes. Hmmn.

2. US health care costs are going up at such a dramatic rate that pretty soon no one will be able to afford insurance and we'll all be in the same boat.

3. Uninsured people who can't afford to take care of themselves cost us all money when they show up in the emergency room.

*Note that although countries where there is only socialized medicine tend to have rotten health care, countries that have tried a hybrid of public and private (like Germany) offer very high quality health care. It's expensive for individuals and companies but the overall debt is much lower and in many cases the quality of care higher. In fact, sometimes a doctor will even take a culture or try alternative medicine before prescribing antibiotics instead of prescribing them for every cold. But if you need it, you get the full enchilada with x-rays, medicine, follow ups and time off from work. And for privately insured people, little or no waiting.

Clearly something needs to be done in the US to combat rising health care costs and at least the President is trying to tackle the issue while it can still be tackled gracefully, which we should have done with alternative energy a long time ago. I'm not sure he's going far enough if we really want to cut costs, however. For example, I'd like to see premiums based on overall health for one's age group, so if a 20 year old is an obese smoker they should pay more than a fit 20 year old marathon runner who eats lots of leafy greens.

I also wonder when someone will finally address the issue of triaged care. In other words, do you spend your money saving a child or keeping a 90 year old smoker on a breathing machine for two years?

I'm just saying.

But triage is a dirty word so I guess we'll just keep pretending that we can afford to give every single person unlimited health care without making anyone take responsibility for their health.

And anyone who says otherwise clearly wants to set up a bunch of death camps to turn old people into pies.

PS I'm looking forward to a 'death panel' skit from Tina Fey.


  1. I really don't know how I feel about anything yet.

  2. While The Maven feels government intervention is necessary in US healthcare, the current bill is not one The Maven favors. In the words of Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is, you eventually run out of other peoples money."

  3. I totally agree about keeping some one on life support. My husband and I have a living will that says to pull the plug!! We will give it a decent wait... then pull it damn it!! I don't want to live on machines. And...

    I do not want to pay for folks to live on machines. I appreciate your info on Germany. Sounds like a plan. We have to do something. The costs are going insane!!

    ...and we definitely pay for the uninsured with higher bills. Kinda like shop lifting.

  4. Well, you know where we stand on the issue. Of course, it should be pointed out to any and all that we already "triage"--we just base it on arbitrary things like employment status rather than relative health.

  5. I'm glad to see that there is at least activity towards improving the situation, but I'm curious to see how it all pans out. The extra cynical part of me wonders how much of it is just a bunch of hot air political dog and pony. Hoping there's some substance in there somewhere.
    I'd like to see health care available to all, much much less waste and greed, and more preventive type stuff to avoid making nicotine flavored geriatric pies.
    I think Americans are way, way over doctored to begin with. It's like a pasttime. Going to the doctor. Getting prescriptions. Leading to more trips to the doctor and more prescriptions. I know so many folks that make a career out of their doctors visits and ailments. Gives them a place to go, something to talk about, a chance to be center of attention. *steps down off her soap box*
    But. Not really sure what the solution is. Germany's plan sounds smart.

  6. What I can't understand is why people are so angry with Obama... Surely it is better to try and get some sort of healthcare for everyone, even for those who are now uninsured because they cannot afford it??

    Here in Sweden, healthcare is subsidized so that we still have to pay a modest fee, but not a huge one...

  7. Solipsist - good point, we do triage today. I would add that we triage based on ability to pay and (in the case of Medicare) ability to vote. Which is why poor senior citizens may get better care than poor 7 year olds.

  8. @Lady Fi, it just so happens old Dr. Oz was on a "ten questions" video on the NYT and specifically mentioned Sweden as having an equitable and also good health care system. I need to check it out.

    Laura, I am a lawyer but . . . I'd much rather play one on TV. That said, RE the laws of the United States and its Constitution, there have been few, if any, amendments to the Constitution in the last several decades -- I think the equal rights amendment might have been the last attempt -- but many, many laws have been enacted. Just FYI.

    I'm with Kristin on Obamacare: there just aren't enough details yet known for me to feel comfortable weighing in.

  9. Great opinions by everyone. We do need more details. The USG keeps passing laws like the stimulus bill without reading the fine print.

  10. Now who knew? I thought laws were somehow associated with the Constitution. Guess that old guy may have had a point...

  11. I like the paragraphs about those of us who do not choose bad life choices not having to pay for those who do. It's a can of worms, but I like it. I'm not entirely for Obama's HC plan, but the way it is now isn't working either. I do know the one thing going on that just sends me over the healthcare for people who are living here illegally and that includes those same people getting social security and welfare also. If they are going to get it all free, then as a US citizen, I want in, too. Great situation we're in, isn't it.

  12. I too agree with the idea of those who make poor choices should pay more. However, I think that mental health coverage is something that has been shunted to the side for too long and it's a shame.

  13. Just wanted to share what happened to me today regarding the myth of substandard "socialized" health care: I woke up this morning with a pinched nervein my neck/shoulder. The pain was so bad that I could not get out of bed or sit up by myself and even after my husband was able to get me to my feet I had to lay back down flat on my back. There was no way I would have been able to get down the stairs, to a car and to a doctor. Even after taking 800mg of Ibuprofen. Having only lived here in Berlin for a few months I wasn't really sure where to go anyway. I ended up calling a centralized emergency number and they offered to send one over! One hour later I had a doctor bedside who gave me a shot against the pain and I never had to leave the house. I was advised to follow up with an Orthopedic doctor (of course) and that was it. A few hours later now I can sit propped up and I have an appointment for tomorrow to follow up and I'm so glad that I didn't have to go to either a doctor's office or an emergency room where I would have spent hours waiting. After 15 years dealing with BlueCross in California it seems simply too good to be true.

  14. P.S. I am not privately insured, btw.


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