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Sep-01-2012 22:00printcomments

A Job for Occupy Wall Street

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.

View articles written by Daniel Johnson

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Anonymous September 4, 2012 7:06 am (Pacific time)

Daniel Canada's health system is evolving towards a private market model, and for good reasons. You should feel fortunate that conservative values are quickly becoming a norm for your government leadership. We are preparing Canada for us, by the way. For example:
Cuba's Health Care Utopia is crumbling. Lest anyone be slightly tempted to think that Castro really has figured out a scheme to keep costs down and beat the free market in efficiency and quality, think twice. A Cuban medical specialist earns an average of $25 a month and Cuban patients often bring their own bed sheets, hypodermic needles, food and water.

Liberal socialistic politicians consistently promise utopia and deliver misery. One way they do this is by pointing to “successful” programs in socialist nations as models for American problems. Cuba’s wonderful universal health care program has been one of these models for decades. But now it seems this program — sometimes touted as better than our own medical system — is now in shambles and facing more financial cuts.

Raul Castro is even attempting to educate the population of the need to economize the country’s failing health care system. He has run a series of ads that have a common theme titled, “Your health care is free, but how much does it cost?” The difference between Cuba and the U.S. could not be greater. The U.S. is still one of the main leaders in medical advancements and quality care. With an annual expense of $2.3 trillion per year and a population of 311.5 million, its per capita costs are $7,383. American medical professionals receive the highest compensation for their services and provide some of the best care in the world for that compensation, which is the direct result of a free market with competition. It is no wonder that so many people still come to the U.S. for medical treatments, especially from countries that have socialized health care.

Now it seems that even Cuba has been mugged by a high dose of reality that is squeezing what little “utopia” remains, out of their universal health care. One wonders why the likes of Michael Moore and company would want to tailor the American health care system after the failed systems implemented in Cuba, North and South Korea, Canada or England? Karl Marx once said that; “religion is the opium of the people,” it would have been more accurate had he said that socialism is the opium of the ignorant. The “people” were never allowed inside those great medical facilities that Moore was touting.

You're obviously a Republican troll. Canada has had a public system for nearly half a century.  Canadians have longer life expectancies than Americans and a lower infant mortality rate. As I  noted, Americans with money have access to first class care, but that's it. In addition, medical costs in Canada are far lower because we don't have the parasitical insurance companies the way you do.

And don't bring up the example of Canadians going down there. Two years ago Michael Douglas had, according to his American doctors, a throat infection. He had to go to Montreal where he was correctly diagnosed with stage four throat cancer and that Canadian doctor saved his life. See the whole story here The Calgary Sun

Save your fingertips. You have nothing of value  to offer our readers. 

Anonymous September 2, 2012 11:48 am (Pacific time)

Hell must be getting cold, because I actually agree with SOME of this!

Anonymous September 2, 2012 8:33 am (Pacific time)

Daniel I know you mean well, and applaud you for that. Maybe you could get better insight on American culture, and it's dynamics if you spent several years down here? By the way, the OWS has essentially been rendered ineffective by anarchists, which if you take a gander at history over the last 100 years, is pretty much the pattern of all groups that reflect only a tiny percentage of the native populations. In terms of healthcare and infant mortality, there are different metrics being used, but then we see many Canadians coming here on a regular basis for medical treatment, and how many Americans go elsewhere on a comparative percentage? Hey, have a swell Labor Day on 9/3 Daniel. Veterans Day is coming in November, do you also celebrate our Veteran's Day? You celebrate any of our distinctly American holidays?

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