Thursday, January 12, 2006

With Liberty and Healthcare For All

I heard a rather strange commercial on WMAY this morning. It told the tale of some poor schlub who has a stroke causing him to not be able to work. This causes him to lose his job and insurance. He is then left with piles and piles of medical bills some of which he puts on credit cards that accrue interest and late fees making his debt all the worse. The sponsor of the ad comes to the rescues arranging for up to 60% (!) of the debt to be wiped away. The announcer then says our guy is back on his feet physically and financially thanks to this wonderful company.

First of all, I doubt this wonderful company had much to do with his physical recovery but that’s beside the point.

No, I was stunned at how accepting the tone was of this situation. “Well, of course you could be financially ruined by medical bills, this is the USA! Here’s a Band-Aid solution thanks to the wonders of the free market. Now run along and don’t get hurt.”

Someone suffering a stroke should not be financially devastated by the event. We as a society can take care of each other. Yes, I’m talking about universal healthcare. Listening to that radio ad was almost disturbing. It reinforced in my mind the blind acceptance of such situations by our society. Sure, as long as it isn’t you everything is fine. Too bad about those like the guy in the commercial. Tough luck, I guess.

Virtually every nation above third world status has some variety of universal health coverage. I find it crazy that we don’t have it here. And by the way, if you read up on the subject (which I have) you will find that many nations with universal coverage have lower health costs overall, have greater life expectancies and greater satisfaction with heath services than we have here in the U.S.

We keep inching toward it. We have the poorest of the poor and the elderly covered. Military veterans are looked after (mostly). Initiatives like Governor Blagojevich's to cover all children are nice too but we need to finally go all the way and make sure everyone is covered.

The story in the radio commercial was technically fictional but things like it happen all the time. Here are a few real life examples.

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