This country is in poor health. I know because I am one of the ones who regularly visits a doctor. I was searching the web for some health information and found a relevant article at Forbes. But search engines sometimes turn up strange results. In the "Health" section at Forbes.com I found another article (from the AP wire) about our unhealthy credit card debt. The increase in debt is just a symptom of our underlying sickness. Too many americans are out-of-work. The so-called statistics about employment tell us nothing because they only reflect people still on unemployment. And people who can't make a living can't pay their debts. The latest natural disaster has only made the situation worse. But while the American people continue the downward spiral, the cedit card companies have been converted to "drug-addicts".
Quoting from the article:
"Credit card companies are increasingly addicted to their fees," said Daniel Ray, editor-in-chief at Bankrate.com, an online financial service. "Six years ago, all fees - including late fees - contributed only a minor portion to overall revenue. Today it accounts for more than 30 percent."
Meanwhile the health insurance companies have been junkies for a much longer time. Attempts to create a system of universal coverage have been thwarted by the rich drug and insurance companies to whom money means more than human life and suffering. A solution in the form of a voucher system has been proposed. Proponents proclaim that Universal Health Vouchers will give Americans universal coverage while retaining the ideals of American Medicine. But to me it looks as though we get universal health coverage in return for giving the insurance companies a blank check. The check will be cashed by using a value added tax and a new bureaucracy will decide how much coverage is warranted and how much money the insurance companies get.
Those in favor of the plan say that it will make the system more efficient and will eliminate smaller inefficient insurance companies that specialize in insuring people the larger companies won't cover today. But allow me to make a simple observation and prediction. First the big companies would be thrilled to see the smaller ones disappear and second, the money saved by any efficiencies will go straight into their pockets and not ours. Proponents argue that since increasing health care spending will require increasing the VAT, the voucher system will keep the cost of healthcare down. I would go so far as to suggest that it will keep the quality down as well. Let's face it. The rich will still go to private physicians while the voucher system will make the rest of the population into guinea pigs for the big drug and big insurance companies.
But back to my immediate problems. My wife just received one of those nice letters from her health insurance requesting information so they can do an audit of pre-existing conditions. The letter was polite enough but it basically means that they would prefer not to pay for anything if they can avoid it. Meanwhile I'd have to say that one of her pre-existing conditions (that is, it pre-existed our marriage) is that she is obsessive compulsive about cleaning - especially late at night when normal people should be preparing for bed. So the other night she was wiping all the "dusty" bottles in the medicine cabinet and managed to "wash" all the pills of one of her more expensive prescription medications. I'm sure the doctor, pharmacist and insurance company will be thrilled to charge us again.
Yes this country is sick. It is sick with greed. And although I'd never agree to teaching creationism in a science class, I do have to admit that somehow, people have come by the mistaken idea that greed is a part of healthy competition and evolution.
I had the good fortune to spend several years living in Spain, and it was remarkable to me how different a society can be when caring for the sick and the jobless and your family and friends and coworkers is placed ahead of the bottom line. Or maybe that should be the bottom line. Isn't that really how survival, and hence evolution works?