Sunday March 9, 2014
A Job for Occupy Wall Streetby Daniel Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor
Paul Ryan at the 2012 RNC Convention said: “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” By Republican measure America is truly a savage society.
(CALGARY, Alberta) - Perhaps someone can explain the philosophy of the American health care system to me. Americans believe they have the best health care system in the world, yet in comparison to other countries, the UN ranks the U.S. at 37th. Compared to just Canada, the U.S. has lower longevity and higher infant mortality. If you’re wealthy, American health care is, for them, #1. But for most people…
Until the implementation of “Obamacare” about 47 million Americans had no health care coverage at all. GW Bush argued that this was not a problem because emergency wards were available to everyone. The emergency ward is fine if you’ve fallen down the stairs and broken a limb. But if you have some internal, not readily visible medical development, like most cancers, for example, by the time you get emergency room attention, it’s usually too late.
How many are 47 million people? If you put them in a line they would encircle the continental U.S. in a line of about 18,000 miles. Put in more mundane terms, you’ve probably seen blocks long lineups for movies, midnight-madness sales etc. Forty seven million people would be lined up for 290,000 blocks.
Those are the people who were left to hang out and dry. Paul Ryan at the 2012 RNC Convention said: “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” By Republican measure, America is, truly, a savage society and the Republicans are truly a party of the 1%.
Most, but not all, will be covered under “Obamacare” but even then it’s still inadequate and morally wrong. Here’s my question.
The American people (in general) do not believe in a “single-payer” system and emphatically do not want "government" coming between the doctor and the patient. In that direction, many believe, lies “death panels”. I read an article years ago comparing the health care systems of Canada and the U.S. and the writer concluded that the reason Americans were willing to pay more for health insurance was that it gave them the illusion of freedom—they could pick their plan and insurance company. Theoretically. I still don’t understand how paying more money for a “product” that was identical from provider to provider could make you more “free”.
It’s like going to the supermarket and having the choice of several laundry detergents (or many other products)—after being brainwashed into believing that they are different.
Here is the job for Occupy Wall Street
In principle, the Canadian and American health care systems are essentially the same. There are doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc., on one side and patients on the other. Where they diverge is in who pays for the medical side.
In Canada, the payments are made by government who, in a few provinces, collect modest health care premiums from the people. Some provincial governments, like Alberta (since 2009), do not collect premiums. Until they stopped collecting them they were $44/mo per person or $88/mo per family. Everyone is covered and no one pays more because they have a pre-existing condition. There are no co-payments. Treatments are available to everyone without favoritism or unnecessary delay. This is the system that has existed in Canada since 1964 (coming up a half century). If there were anything egregiously bad or dysfunctional about Canadian health care, it would have become obvious decades ago. Similarly, the public health care systems of Europe.
The problem with the American health care system is this: The payments to the medical side are made by privately owned insurance companies and they, unless a person can afford the often onerous premiums, there is no coverage. This could be called a death panel.
So-called “Obamacare” is no real solution. By subsidizing people, the taxpayers will be handing over additional billions to the 1%--the owners of the hospitals, HMOs and insurance companies. They occupy an interesting place: They collect premiums, but their mandate is to show a profit to their shareholders and deny coverage whenever possible. (This was dramatically shown in the 1997 movie The Rainmaker). If an insurance company actually has to pay for an operation or treatment, they call it a medical loss. (George Orwell would be spinning in his grave.)
The OWS job is simply described: Cutting out these absolutely unnecessary middlemen (what amounts to a crime against the American people) is something specific and directly understandable OWS could protest for the benefit of everyone.
___________________________________Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.
He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.
As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.
Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.
It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.
In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)
Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2012, has published more than 210 stories.
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