Don’t like Government Health Care? You’ve Already Got It!
A funny thing happened on the way to the Government takeover of health care. I realized that it had already happened.
No, I don’t mean Government as in Of-the-People, By-the-People, Founding-Fathers-set-This-up Government. I mean the real Government that controls health care: the Aetna-Blue Cross-Humana-Corporate-government. They set the price, tell me what treatment I can and can’t get, and, every three or four months, raise the price whether I like it or not. Personally, after years of being subject to this Corporate Government, I don’t see what I have to fear from my elected one.
As a 50 year old novelist and business owner with a wife and two children, all of us in excellent physical condition, I am currently paying more than $13,000 each year for our family’s Blue Cross health insurance. That “tax” is greater than the contribution I make to Social Security. It has increased about $5800 since I signed up less than two years ago. Since there is a $1000 deductible per person and co-payments, we easily pay another $1,000-3,000 per year in routine medical and pharmacy bills, as well as $2-3000/year in dental. We won’t even talk about optical and orthodontics, which are not covered at all. So, in a year when we are all healthy, I pay about $17,000 in medical and dental expenses. Most of this goes into the pocket of the health insurance corporation.
The corporate overlords of my health care, the ones who tell the doctors how much to charge and what they’ll cover, have set up a bureaucracy that would rival that of most South American Republics. Between the insurance companies and the extra staff needed by hospitals and doctors to jump through their hoops, 31% of current US medical dollars are spent on administration and overhead, not medical care. Contrary to the lies being spread these days, Government-of-the-People programs such as Medicaid and Medicare have far lower overhead than Corporate Government plans, since they have no fat executive salaries or shareholder dividends to pay, nor a huge apparatus dedicated to assessing and denying patients’ claims. What do I have to fear from a public health plan? That they might charge me less or, heavens, that I might pay the same amount, and actually get coverage?
Some might say the Corporate Government is more American, because I have the freedom to not buy it. Freedom to go bankrupt if my child gets sick in this bloated, parasitic health care system. Freedom, once I’m bankrupt, to go to the emergency room and foist the costs off on everyone else. Freedom, if I ever get out of bankruptcy again, to pay whatever skyrocketing price my insurance company might happen to be charging five years down the road. That’s the Corporate Government’s idea of freedom.
In this modern age, where power abhors a vacuum, you’re always going to have one Government or the other. As your doctor might say, choose your poison.
Novelist Stuart Archer Cohen [email@example.com] is the author of The Army of the Republic (Picador), a novel about an American insurgency. His previous novels have been translated into 10 languages. Visit his website: www.StuartArcherCohen.com