‘Tis the season for health care reform overreacting, from Democrat Pelosi’s very silly & counterproductive “unAmerican” remark, to the unbeknownst-to-anyone-including-those-creating-the-bill “death panels” – aka having access to good & factual information from your doctor on handling end-of-life preparations – charged by Republicans and on which Republicans are now backpedaling as, yes, another overreaction. This made more interesting by the fact that it was a Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of GA, who introduced the bill’s end of life counseling option for Medicare… Oh, and by the way, my fellow Boomers, according to Medical News Today, one of the top 10 most common medical challenges for us as we age: Death & Dying, e.g. deciding how we want to live out the end of our lives and how we want to die….
What is not being discussed, and must be if we hope to reform anything, whether it’s our evermore dysfunctional health care system or a shaky marriage, is the “give” part of “give and take”…
And I’m not referring to Congress; I’m talking about…us.
It is an accepted fact that at times we must sacrifice for the greater good. We Boomers’ parents did that big time to ensure a world free of fascist domination; foster parents make many sacrifices so they can care for others’ abused/neglected children; and, of course, our military men and women make huge sacrifices, as do their families, to keep us safe. Americans often are willing to sacrifice a little – and sometimes a lot – to help others.
So I asked myself, “what am I willing to sacrifice when it comes to health care reform, so that others (many) who are suffering because their insurance dropped them for having a disease that is too costly, or are uninsured and as a result are not getting the healthcare some of them desperately need, will no longer have to live that way?” Because that, to me, is what underpins much of the debate, fuels much of the fear, and ultimately decides the outcome: “you’re asking me to give up something for this, and I don’t wanna…”
It’s natural to think only of ourselves, what we have, and that we don’t want to chance losing something of our own so that others we don’t know can gain. But, in retrospect:
- it’s a good thing the Continental Congress ultimately fought that desire (for 2 years the vast majority of representatives wouldn’t even discuss the option of independence, in part because they knew it would be considered treason, but in greater part because they were afraid of losing their property and standing);
- I’m very glad those who stormed the beach at Normandy didn’t feel that way, and;
- I’m deeply grateful that those who ultimately lost their lives to gain basic civil rights for all, didn’t place their own self-interests above that of millions of fellow Americans subjugated to egregious forms of discrmination.
Now that I know that 10’s of millions of my fellow Americans, a number that keeps growing, have, over many years, experienced serious health ramifications because they have no coverage to get then well, this is a big enough problem to warrant serious consideration of my part in fixing it.
I am thrilled that my 89 year old mother, and all of America’s elderly (and not so elderly…) have Medicare so at least here in America we don’t let our elderly go without all the care they need to have a quality life. But that has only been since the 1960’s, prior to that, we did treat our elderly as we do our younger citizens now, and that’s nothing in which to take pride.
So, am I willing to pay a little more so that others can be healthy? Am I willing to get a little less so someone with cancer will be covered after all? Doctors, are you willing to make $3K instead of $4K a year* and perhaps drive a smaller BMW? And, of course, we already know that the insurance companies are not willing to sacrifice anything but those who cost them too much, unless forced to do so…
A major objection from the most vocal of opponents, is based in this concern: “I like my insurance (whether private of Medicare) and don’t want it impacted at all!” Is that reasonable or completely selfish? Is it unreasonable to ask those who feel they are not impacted by the health care issue, to make some potential sacrifice so others may have even some of what they have (the operative word being potential, as for many it may never happen)?
My answer is, I am willing to pay a little more for the same coverage if that will help others – I am not willing to continue to pay more for less to benefit the insurance companies as \is happening right now. I say that not completely selflessly (of course…): I know full well that I do already pay for the uninsured through the 33% hike I’ve seen in my premiums over just the last year. If you think that’s not happening to you as an insured, just call your insurer and ask why premiums keep rising – they will readily admit that it is in part because they must try to recoup the rising costs of hospital medical care, for instance, associated with the mandate to care for the uninsured regardless of their ability to pay.
Even those with good coverage know that at any time they can be denied care for a needed procedure, canceled, or as has happened regularly over the last many years even w/employer underwritten group health plans, pay ever more for less coverage. This while insurance executives fly to their next stockholder meeting in their private planes with gold-rimmed dinnerware and hand & foot service (I’m not fabricating this – an ex-insurance exec told all recently to the St. Pete Times, and this was part of his story).
So, now I ask you: What are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good on this issue? A little something can really go a long way.
*According to a 2008 survey of MD’s by Modern Physician, Physician’s salaries range from a low of $175K/yr (Internist), to a high of $600K (Radiologist): averaging $387K/yr.