What is REALLY behind universal healthcare opposition? It’s the fear of helping “LOSERS”
I felt compelled to comment on this article in MedCity News. The article said FEAR was a dominant reason some Americans find it so hard to support the kind of universal healthcare that all other advanced nations have. The dark side of this belief is that “Nobody wants to pay for FREE healthcare for anyone who doesn’t work hard enough, doesn’t have enough determination, or is a Loser” and doesn’t deserve it. The US stands out in this regard, since we are the ONLY one among the 33 advanced nations that does not provide universal healthcare.
While these other countries see healthcare as a basic right and thus a social responsibility, in the U.S. it doesn’t seem to matter whether these ‘losers’ are old people or little kids, are people who lost their jobs, are people with serious health problems through no fault of their own, or are people bankrupt by a serious injury. Those who are afraid to help ‘losers’ speak of defunding the government or killing Obamacare, with no apparent concern that the OECD reports that 17% of US households live below the poverty line, or that they can’t afford healthcare and have an average lifespan 20 years less than those in affluent neighborhoods on opposite sides of the same town.
Fear of Helping Losers is a smoke screen. It’s part of an intentional misinformation campaign among those with a lot to lose from a universal healthcare system, including insurance companies positioned between doctors and patients and syphoning profits without providing real value. I think their real fear is losing revenue if disruptive health reform is implemented and successful. Here’s my reasoning…
CORPORATIONS measure success in business terms like Profit, ROI, and Payback Period, and so they make relatively short-term investments that show strong shareholder returns. Senior executives even have a legal mandate to serve the investment interests of shareholders rather than public interests or society. That’s why, if corporate behavior is viewed as a person and evaluated based on personality profile testing, they generally behave as sociopaths. (See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/07/corporate-behavior-and-rising-health-care-costs/.)
GOVERNMENTS established to serve society measure the success of investments differently, and generally over much longer time periods. That’s why infrastructure investments (highways & bridges, sea & airports, public utilities, public education, and basic research) often make more sense for governments. They not only benefit all of society but also promote competition, which again serves all of society. If FedEx, for example, built the roads and charged tolls, how easy would it be to price their competition (UPS & US Postal) out of the market? And if American Airlines built the airports, would Delta even be allowed to land there?
There obviously are pros & cons of the different incentives of public & private organizations, and an ideal healthcare system should recognize that and work to maximize the strengths of both. (See www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/08/hybrid-system/.) If a hybrid public/private model was put in place and reduced our $3 trillion/year of healthcare expenses by half, to match what other industrial nations pay, then $1.5 trillion would be available go into the economy elsewhere, by cutting taxes, lowering debt, or funding strategic investment. That sounds great to most of us, but to those at the top of the healthcare mountain, it would be very disruptive and cut into profits.
So, truly effective and disruptive health reform is unlikely, especially with Republicans having political control, because SOMEBODY will no longer get their part of the $1.5 trillion, and they’ll scream bloody murder. The incumbents that already profit perversely from illness and injury would naturally and fiercely defend their current positions and oppose any public healthcare initiatives. They’d fight to keep their profits and argue that much of that profit will trickle down to others somehow. They’d also argue that such cuts would result in large job losses. But that’s not true. Such arguments are really just about the profits of private corporations and the wealth of corporate executives.
Ideally, government would work to serve all of society by developing a skilled, healthy and productive workforce that adapts easily to tech innovation and skills obsolescence. It would also promote wellness and healthy lifestyles to minimize the need for medical care, provide equal opportunities, and drive economic development across all social and socioeconomic sectors. But instead of that, our government subsidizes agribusiness & processed foods, big oil & the resulting environmental contamination, and Wall Street — all of which contribute to rising healthcare costs (profits) and a widening wealth gap.
When was the last time our government undertook a major infrastructure project or actually served society instead of plutocracy? Today’s politics and the corrupting influence of powerful special interest lobbying have divided our nation to the point that creating the ideal healthcare system, or even the ideal government, now seems impossible.
But Don’t Despair
Even with all of the industry and political resistance, I still see promise in disruptive technologies and business models and remain guardedly optimistic about The Future of Health Care.
What’s the Proper Role of Government in Healthcare?
My Top-10 Related Articles (not already linked above)
- Health Care Reform – Progress and Next Steps, by President Barack Obama
- Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again
- The Unbreak Campaign – a Declaration Of Independence
- Transforming Our Flawed Healthcare System
- Why Medicare-for-All is Not Enough
- HEALTH or SICK Care?
- The Big Heist – Become a Benefactor
- Chipping Away at Healthcare Special Interests Yet?
- Corporate Behavior and Rising Health Care Costs
- Wealth Inequality, Healthcare and the Economy