Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Accessible & Affordable Healthcare –A few thoughts on Ours and Theirs

As a Canadian, I have been watching with fascination the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to repeal and replace the ‘Affordable Care Act’, or as Trump prefers to call it “that disastrous Obamacare.”

It is my personal belief that healthcare is a human right and not a frivolous luxury.  It is non-negotiable.   I also believe most Canadian citizens feel blessed to have universal healthcare coverage.   I have heard it described by some as healthcare “free” for our citizens.  It is not free – we pay for it dearly and hold it just as dear.  Others call it “Socialized Medicine”, then recoil, shudder and brush the term off themselves as if they had walked through a dense spider’s web.

We’re a democracy!  We don’t need any of that red socialism!  We’re proud capitalists!  You keep that pinko socialism in your own country!

But where does that term ‘socialism’ come from?  It is derived from the word ‘social’ (Society).  The dictionary defines the word ‘Social’ in several ways –here are a few.

  • of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.
  • tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.
  • living in more or less organized communities.

America already had social institutions.   Nationally or Federally the American Military is a social institution.  All citizens pay for this service through their taxes and in return the country as a whole is protected by its military.  On the State level, State Militias may exist paid for by its citizen’s tax dollars

While private schools are commonplace for those who wish to opt out of local residential schools paid by one and all through their local taxes

Your local fire department is another social service.  Can you imagine the chaos if it were not?  Imagine if your neighbour’s house catches on fire and he’s not home to call his fire department.  Yes, I said “his” fire department.  If your town did not wish to have a social service of a common fire department, each homeowner would be free to sign up with one of the competing fire extinguishing services available in town.  You better have the number of your neighbour’s fire department as your own will only extinguish you house if on fire.

Socialism is simply working together for a common good – a common necessity.

I wish I had noted the name of the Republican spokesperson that stood before an interviewer and said “no American wants to have socialized medicine.”  I have to wonder if the parents of a gravely sick child would accept socialized medicine to save their child or would rather let their child die a fiercely proud red, white and blue American without that “pinko” taint on him/her.

Don’t get me wrong.  I too feel there is too much government involvement in my life.  The big wheels of bureaucracy burn far too much fuel and need way more grease for the meagre work accomplished.  However, the collection and administration of healthcare funds is not one of them if done proficiently.  Federal taxes collected could then be distributed to States according to population, age, specific needs.  Feds act as a ‘not-for-profit’  insurance agency however individual States know best how to distribute the funds as needed.

Why is the American Affordable Care Act faltering?  Why do costs rise so drastically?  Because it is administered by the Insurance companies.  While the government is responsible to the American citizens, the insurance companies are responsible only to their stockholders.  Capitalism at its bestIf people use the service (ACA) then there is a greater pay-out and less profit for the stockholders!  It is always about the money.

I fail to see any resolution of this issue if the Insurance Companies are left in control of the administration.  Liberal Democrats wish to see better and more extensive coverage.  It seems that Conservative Republicans wish for total independence; pay for it yourself or suffer.  And that same polarization – that divide is also seen within the Republican Party itself.  Moderate versus those staunchly conservative.  Eight years in opposition yet they have no well thought out replacement plan to offer.

It puzzles me.  So many Republicans appear to represent the “evangelicals” – from the “Bible belt”.  “Help thy neighbour, etc, etc.”

Take the U.S. Marine’s slogan of “No man left behind”.  Every warrior is my brother and all will be done to save you or recover your remains.  But the same sentiment does not seem to apply for the average American citizen.  Can’t pay for your healthcare, predisposing medical issue, etc?  -You're left behind -second class citizen…

The whole idea behind socialized medicine is that we all look out for each other.  We all pay into the system whether sick or healthy and by doing so we all look after our ‘brothers and sisters’.  So I don’t need it now, but I will age and will no doubt need it as the future nears.  And who among us can predict when an accident will occur.  I will gladly pay so that my neighbour or their child doesn't have to suffer.

Is our Canadian system perfect?  Not by a long shot but nobody wishes it repealed and replaced.  It needs to be tweaked when necessary.  It will always remain a work in progress.  I remain forever grateful it was there for me when I acquired an infection and became a paraplegic.  Six month stay in the hospital and I received no bill for their extensive services.  My fellow Canadians looked out for me and after I recovered I returned to work.  The taxes from my paycheck will look out for someone else.

America has a socialized military, elementary education, fire departments, police departments, utilities and so forth.  I find it surprising that Americans draw the line at socialized healthcare.  It simply astounds me...

Money for expanding the military and building walls, but not so much for looking after ailing citizens.  Go figure!

Although I have healthcare, don't shoot me for my opinion.  Just my point of view.
I do wish the best for my American neighbours whatever system of healthcare that may be.

By the way, I’m married to an American citizen.  

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