There is a mystery puzzling me lately. How have the poor and working class of this country and this state been persuaded that the people fighting against healthcare reform are on their side? And how have they been persuaded that healthcare reform is against their interests? How have the people and organizations fighting for healthcare reform lost the interest of the very people who most need it? Rich men have funded the Tea Party, but it is populated by the working class.
Without health insurance, the costs of having a baby or repairing a broken arm can wipe out any savings a family has. The medical costs of a heart attack or cancer can drive a family into bankruptcy. One of the most common causes of bankruptcy in this country is medical issues.
One way families deal with these unexpected costs is fundraisers. It is admirable that the community often steps forward and assists with huge medical bills. However, there are a few problems with this approach. First, in this difficult economy, more and more people need help with meeting their household needs, whether for food, winter coats, or medical bills, and those who can give have less to give as they cope with their own financial setbacks.
Sometimes the money doesn’t come in time. I read just yesterday of a man who had a liver transplant lined up, but couldn’t raise the money in time and the liver went to another patient. He must now wait three years for another chance.
Third, and unfortunately, occasionally people commit fraud. They are not ill, but claim to be, and the community gives them money that then goes on luxury items, not medical bills. Thankfully, we have not yet had an example of this in our local community.
Traditional economics tells us that if a good is too expensive, then people will either go without or the price will come down. However, people are unwilling to forgo expensive medical care. The price only continues to rise because prices are set in a way that makes it impossible for consumers to comparison shop, and sometimes only the best will do, anyway.
The pricing and delivery system we have for healthcare is obviously untenable. The rich have no interest in reform, because they can pay for whatever they need. Instead of letting them dictate the terms of the debate, and shutting it down by creating a frenzy in the working class, the rest of us need to sit down and decide exactly what we want in our healthcare system, whether it is low cost medical equipment and clinics, health insurance for all, or something else entirely.
This column was originally published in the (Idaho Falls) Post Register on December 19, 2010.
- Post Columnist Highlights Success of MA Health Reform (hcfama.org)
- How Healthcare Reform Will Change the Way You Pay Taxes (turbotax.intuit.com)
- Healthcare Executives Weigh in on Details of Health Reform – Free Intelligence Report (prweb.com)