A Different Slant On Our National Health Care Debate

Thrive-JeffBell_Close_Cropped_Headshot_10-29-2013Lately I have found myself involved in frequent discussions about our health care system and what Congress and Obama are or are not doing about it.

Not surprisingly, I have found that even among my very liberal friends, there is a lot of mistrust surrounding possible “single payer” otherwise known as “universal coverage” solutions.

I say not surprisingly, because Glenn Beck and his colleagues have done a brilliant job of frightening many Americans into believing that such solutions would rip away whatever freedom of choice we still have when it comes to health care, and would raise costs through the roof.

To be sure, it is possible to create a single-payer system that would guarantee such problems and worse.  However, if one looks around the world to see what other countries are doing, and how they are doing it, one finds very attractive examples of systems that cost far less than our present system.  Many of these systems deliver much better outcomes, leading to far higher levels of overall satisfaction on the part of both the citizens who depend on them, and the professionals who work in them.

And they do this at far lower costs than our system, which spends more than any other on Planet Earth.

Why do we not see this in the U.S. media?  Good question!  The answer is simple:  What happens to the U.S. health insurance companies if the majority of Americans learn that they are truly not part of the solution?

And what happens when we learn that the citizens of countries without such corporations running their health care systems fare much better than we do?

How about when we find out that these other countries provide health care at a much lower cost, and still have better results, frequently more choice than we do, and mostly longer life expectancies.

If we learn these things that they do not want us to know, what will be the fate of the health insurance companies?

Will we still willingly line up to pay them billions of  dollars a year to mostly stand in the way of the care that we need and deserve?

Here’s a principle to keep in mind:  When seeking to tease the truth out from among all the loud and emphatic media we are all exposed to, ask a simple question as you evaluate the views:  “Who benefits?”  In this case, the health insurance companies in America have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince us all that they are essential to our health freedom and to an efficient system.

But are they telling the truth?  Consider that the U.S. is FIRST in heath care spending, yet 37th in health care outcomes!  Yes, that’s 37th in health care outcomes, such as life expectancy.  Even worse, we are now 47th in infant mortality!

I don’t know about you, but I find those statistics appalling and astonishing.  Here’s another to consider:  There is general consensus among health care systems analysts that at least 30 cents of every health care dollar that is spent in the U.S. goes to the health care insurance companies.  (It is hard to get a precise number that is universally agreed upon due to inconsistencies in accounting methods.  But 30% is considered a safe, conservative figure by most experts.)

To add a bit of irony, I see people on Medicare protesting that single-payer would be the dreaded “socialized medicine”.  What do they think Medicare is?  Do these people tear up their Social Security checks each month because they don’t want to be part of a “Socialized Retirement Benefits” plan?  Probably not.

I think that if you look at what the mainstream media has been telling us, loudly and consistently about health care, and you ask “who benefits?”, then follow the money, you may begin to suspect that we have been badly misled by those whose public responsibility it is, (the media who use our public airways, which we collectively own), to inform the public.

Thomas Jefferson famously said that a well-functioning Democracy is dependent on a well-informed public.  That is at least as true today as it was when he said it a couple hundred years ago.

I don’t hold much hope that the mainstream media will change anytime soon – that they will begin serving the people instead of the giant corporations that are the source of most of their revenue.

So to attempt to balance things out a bit I am going to make an exception to one of my blog policies.  I have a standing policy of not recommending any products in this blog.   Here goes my fist ever exception:

I am recommending Michael Moore’s recent movie, “Sicko”.  I think it does a brilliant job of helping us to see some other possibilities, and to balance out what the health insurance companies and their media lackeys have been jamming at us for so long.  We can’t depend on the mainstream media to do this, even though it is clearly their job.

To be sure, Michael Moore’s movie is biased.  It is clearly in favor of a single-payer, government-run health care system.   However, if you watch the movie and evaluate the facts, (not just the opinions, but the facts and the plain reporting that is in the film), you may find yourself at least seriously questioning what we have been led to believe by the mainstream media.

Furthermore, the movie is highly entertaining, tells a number of moving and powerful stories, and is a great place to restart the dialog about health care in this country.

If you are interested, here is a link to buy it on Amazon.  I think it is well worth it.  I have watched it several times and have shared it with a number of my friends and neighbors.  Very interesting conversations have resulted.

Sicko (Special Edition)

To your health!

Jeff Bell


As always, I welcome your comments, views, and…

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  1. Bill Sanders
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Nice article Jeff. I will definitely rent Sicko!

    • admin
      Posted December 9, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      After you have watched “Sicko” please let me know what you think. I’ll be very interested to know if it changes any of your present ideas about the pluses or minuses of a truly public health care system. I am trying to assess just how much the mainstream media has or has not affected American’s beliefs about this.

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