Screaming Louder – The American Health Care Debate

I’m not American so you might wonder what possible interest I have in their health care system?

Well, the debate that is raging just now seems to have spilled to this side of the pond with an explosion of love for the NHS which is a nice change.  Sometimes you only realise what you have when someone else tells you that they’re OK with 46 million of their fellow citizens having no health care.

I like politics.  I like to think about ideas and to talk them through with people I disagree with because it helps me to understand things.

Today has brought lots of thoughts and discussion on the health care debate in America through a Twitter conversation, a blog post and the most ridiculous news segment I’ve ever seen!

the Twitter conversation

I tweeted about my gratitude to the NHS for just some of the care that my family have received over the years.  The 14o character limit meant I didn’t get beyond FREE… to mention ‘at the point of delivery’, a fact which Peter helpfully corrected for me.

But what happened next was more interesting.  @Krisstea, a ‘devoted wife, mother and Conservative writer’ living in Georgia in the USA (who lists her website as engaged me in conversation about health care reform in the States.

Apparently, the reason public health care was a bad idea is that America (and the UK) is full of ‘illegals’ and she doesn’t want to pay for their health care.

Aren’t immigration and health care two separate issues?  I know one will have an impact on the other but making a decision based on that kind of logic seems to make no sense to me.  You won’t fix health care by fixing immigration, but it might help reduce the strain.  You won’t fix immigration by fixing health care but you might stop people dying.  Following @Krisstea’s logic getting rid of illegals is more important than stopping people dying.  That doesn’t make sense to me.

But perhaps it doesn’t have to make sense…

The Blog Post

Seth Godin writes about ‘willfully ignorant v aggressively skeptical‘ on his great blog.  He doesn’t get into the health care debate, rather, he comments on how people aren’t having a discussion, they are screaming at people they disagree with.

The screaming is a key part, because screaming is often a tool used to balance out the lazy ignorance of someone parroting opposition to an idea that they don’t understand.

That seems to an outsider what’s going on.  There must be some informed debate going on somewhere but it’s not making it to the news because someone screaming at a congressman is much better TV.

Then the ‘News’ segment

But then, who needs informed comment when you have Fox News???  Have a look at this stunning piece of ‘journalism’.

If this is the kind of racist, ill-informed garbage that people are getting instead of facts and reasoned discussion then what hope is there for the democratic process?

And don’t think that this is the only example of idiocy on the go…

As Mr Obama presented the US’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, to Professor Hawking in a ceremony at the White House yesterday, Investor’s Business Daily declared the disabled scientist would not receive treatment under Britain’s health care system.

‘People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless’

Hawking Cited in Healthcare Debate, The Australian

Stephen Hawking IS British and says he owes his life to the NHS.  Enough said.

There are two sides to this debate.  The NHS isn’t by any means perfect but neither is a system that allows people to suffer and die because they can’t afford insurance.  The only way this discussion will move forward is if people talk about the ISSUES rather than trying to scare people with the bogeymen of higher costs, illegals taking advantage and public health care being a recruiting ground for terrorists.

Come on America.  You can do better than this.

7 thoughts on “Screaming Louder – The American Health Care Debate”

  1. It would be intresting to know what persentage of USA citizens don’t have health care insurance because they choose not to. “if I get ill, I’ll pay” ” I take the risk, spend now and hope/pray I’ll not get ill”

  2. Having returned from a wonderful holiday in Florida, and having watched a fair bit of what passes for news coverage there, I’m astonished at how narrow their news coverage is. Very little, in percentage terms, covers non US news, and there is a genuine ignorance about what goes on beyond their borders, and that is very worrying.
    It leads to the the claptrap of the Fox coverage which is blatantly hyping up fears about terrorist attackes by talking reasonably sensibly (I know I’m stratching that comment) about possible tension in recruitment while on screen there is coverage of the Glasgow Airport attack. It’s editorial editing at its most biased. Hardly good investigative journalism.
    You’re right, America can do a lot better that that.

  3. This was interesting to read this as an American who has experienced both NHS health care and private health care offered on the other side of the pond. I engaged my mum in the issue as she is a nurse and swears by America’s ‘excellent’ health care system. Trouble is…she got pnumonia during my visit and couldn’t afford to go to the emergency room because if you are not admitted, her insurance would charge close to $1000. So what good is this ‘excellent system’ if the people that are paying for it are prohibited from using it? When I was in Arizona, I heard numerous people rant about the number of ‘illegal immigrants’ (primarily Mexicans) and it got old. Fast. I have experienced the NHS and see absolutely no difference in the level of service or treament. And I can pay £4 for a prescription instead of $35 (the insurance picks up the other $300 cost of 30 tablets!) which is great as a skint youth worker.

    Fox News absolutely disgusts me. But, Arizona, as a Republican State LOVES it. It was on everywhere, in particular at a car garage where they bashed Bill Clinton for freeing two Americans held hostage and forced to work at a North Korea labour camp. Another story they milked to death was the Lockerbie bomber being freed, Fox news was angry and said the Scottish public should basically execute terrorists, not free them on compassionate grounds. Interesting. Many people live in fear about the constant ‘threat of terrorism’ and the media (and sometimes government) use it to their advantage which freakes me out royally. Another push-button is that Obama’s plan for health care suddenly could turn America into a ‘socialist state’ and that worries many people I talked to.

    Finally, I point to the example of my gran, who is 85 and recently had a stroke and cannot live on her own. She is not allowed to be in a care home where she could be looked after (unlike the UK where there’s a strong possiblilty elderly people are admitted to homes and cared for) and had to move in with my aunt who is not home most of the day and she can’t get the care she needs.

    I firmly believe America’s system sucks and is in desperate need of reform. And I think people’s attitudes to immigrants need reformed too because uh…the country was BUILT and founded from immigrants and ALL Americans (with the exception of the Native Americans) have immigrant heritage and their ancestors came from elsewhere. Since when did we forget that? The UK’s system has a few flaws and the main argument is that people wait on lists for ages for surgeries and transplants (which could be true in some cases, but I have seen some surgeries and transplants here progress quickly) but at least people won’t die because they didn’t have enough cash to see a docotr. Sorry for the rant, thought I’d add my 2 cents…or 2p…

  4. Hi!,
    I am a doctor working for the NHS UK. I would like to make the foll. points.
    A) Any market based system will work for the interest of the shareholders . One way to introduce competition and to keep insurance costs from escalating is to have a parallel system by the government where citizens can opt in or out depending on the value for money in the care they receive. This will not be a communist system as some will like to brand the one fee universal system, administered by the government will be. If you can change the thinking and let government adopt good practices from the private systems and be more efficient it is all the better for everybody.
    B) Even though middle class healthy people pay a bit more for the disadvantaged wouldn’t it create a more compassionate society where a sense of harmony is created. Being an evangelical Christian country what more to show that you practce the teachings. I am sure God’s blessings are with you.

  5. What this all boils down to has surely got to be the US government’s protection of the highly lucrative insurance business. America is built on money, and these people don’t realise that free healthcare, a. its a choice, not an order b. it will save lives and c. so what about the immigrants, just because their different youd rather let them die, then pay a small amount each year to save their lives, Get real!!! its Xenophobia at its very worst, and all over something that will save millions of live

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