Insurance is NOT the Prescription for American Poor Health

This article was originally published in May 2009 –

The Almost Daily Binx, San Jose-CA, V.A.Caminiti – [Second in a series]

Public Safety / Public Health

…capitalism mutated in the very same way as we encouraged the banking industry to strip safeguards

Can you imagine if you had to be insured to receive basic police services?  How about clean water?  Sewer?  What if you dialed 911 and the operator asked you for your location and your 911 insurance code?  How did the American public become so disinterested and callous in only a few short very greedy years.  Once again, our flaws have seemed to overwhelm our instincts.  Even self-preservation and our natural desire to propogate the species seems to have been compromised to our own detriment.  Isn’t it unnatural for us to not be concerned with the health of all our neighbors – their well being.  How did we become cheerleaders against ourselves – humanity ?

Be very careful and very thorough when approaching this discussion.  The rules, the basis and the players have all changed.  When this discussion took place back in the 1960’s – the very same insurance companies that were prohibited from engaging in risky investments with their financial reserves were essentially providing a public service.  But alas, this is where American capitalism mutated in the very same way as we encouraged the banking industry to strip safeguards and effective regulation, such as Glass-Steagall.

Capitalism is a particularly useful economic tool.  It inspires great things and great philanthropy.  Unfortunately, there is a selflessness to philanthropy and charitable deeds that seems to have eluded many Americans.  While it is a great transition to move from selfishness to selflessness – the journey of the transition is a school unto itself.  Humility knowledge and the gift of discernment may in fact be the destination; however this is all as personal as prayer.  Our public practices are the product of this personal investment; and our business practices can be joyful in the fact that as capitalists and business owners we are part of a community of those that make our business run efficiently and profitably.   Whether a business owner, operator or employee … we all have the responsibility to contribute to the public welfare as well as for those around our own campfire.

This article doesn’t have sufficient literary real-estate to foot-note all the particulars so without apology we’ll aim for bold points.

Cui BonoWho benefits?

Shareholders, stakeholders and investors benefit.  And any departure from this financial turbine is described by the neo-con extreme rightists as a move toward Socialism.

This Latin phrase familiar to many means – ‘who benefits?’  Precisely.  Who benefits if our Health approach is saddled with not one, not two but three layers of profit for absolutely no value to the insured?  Who?  Well it is shamefully simple – the industries that have self-proclaimed they are essential to the delivery of health care – but actually – they deliver the illusion of health care and enormous amounts of red-tape and acrimony.  Millionaire doctors are common-place.  We’re not talking about upper middle class, respectable gentry – we’re talking millionaires in alarming disproportion to the ability of their customers to deliver that kind of wealth for services.

The answer to this puzzle is even more alarming.  Just imagine that a group of entrepreneurs managed to create a collective of physicians and hospitals and convince them that they could guarantee payment for performed services.  We’ll call them the health insurance group analysts.  Now imagine that small private and institution run hospitals are bought up by another entrepreneurial enterprise offering consolidation of services in order to increase profit and contain costs.  Sounds great, right? And then let’s round it off with yet another group that helps design and counsel physicians and hospitals in how to play the game.  The only thing we haven’t actually talked about yet is delivering health care to sick people – so far the discussion is only about money.  And there’s more to come.  Public offerings, new consolidators of health administration and create the fertile birth canal for an entirely new industry; that is, Medical Administrative Services companies whose primary deliverable is processing the voluminous medical insurance paperwork for corporate physicians.

Who benefits?  Shareholders, stakeholders and investors benefit.  And any departure from this financial turbine is described by the neo-con extreme rightists as a move toward Socialism. After all, the promotion of the public well-being has been removed from the very essence of corporate capitalism in stark contrast to its very reason for existing – so why not replace the beneficiaries of health system with shareholders instead of citizens.  The neo-cons and the convoluted agenda they promote have altered the course of modern society, backward to the 1920’s.  It appears the only public services left that haven’t been dismantled are Police, Fire, Water and Sewer – but not for the lack of trying.  In many enclaved real-estate developments around the country, insurance company underwritten private fire companies have been put into service.  They respond to fires of their insured – only.  Sound like the roaring 20’s?  Does it ring of ‘protection’ schemes during the height of the Volstead Act and other ancestors of the equally disturbing Patriot Act?

Debating / The Baiting

…and other buzz words that are the intellectual equivalent of knock-out drops are still the descriptive terms for the argument.  That is to say – the arguments they are having in the public forum have been crafted by the insurance industry.

The Argument for Basic Public Health – what the disrupters call Socialized Medicine – has never been stronger or more sensible.  Tragically though, half the support for the argument disappears because Progressives and Liberals have not been represented – graft free – through the Democratic Party.  The public may be “trusting” their Democratic President with unprecedented solidarity – but they are not as trusting of the Democratic Congress.  Much of this is the result of desperate Rightist pundits working the rope lines whenever and wherever possible.  Hillary Clinton was famously lampooned by ultra-rightists talking heads for her clumsy declaration of a ‘Vast Right Wing Conspiracy’ – but as history has revealed, there are plenty of Right Wing C0-dependents deserving of scrutiny and deposition, at the very least.

However, a significant amount of skepticism haunts Democrats and will continue to haunt them because of the public perception that they were nothing more than ‘eloquent shoulder-shruggers’  that argued vociferously during elections but actually accomplished little else during the 12 years, including 6 years of total American National Government madness.  The bulk of the screaming and dissent ultimately emanated from the Internet wired public. Very few voices in the Democratic Party were brave enough to live their convictions and distinguish themselves with articulate disagreement or simply brave fundamental disagreement.  Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, respectively, come to mind as demonstrative of some of the distinguished few.  And while there are more – most played it safely by putting on their war-paint for Kodak moments, while the public groundswell shook them up.  If nothing else, the Democratic Party went through some significant changes it hadn’t planned when many of the dinosaurs were retired during the last Democratic portion of the last Presidential contest.  So keep in mind – supporters of the President are admiring him for being a Republican and a Democratic dinosaur slayer, although Congress does not share that distinction.

Surely the endless stream of Congressional tidbits about entitlements, insurance reform and other buzz words that are the intellectual equivalent of knock-out drops are still the descriptive terms for the argument.  That is to say – the arguments they are having in the public forum have been crafted by the insurance industry.  They haven’t been crafted around American Health, yet we bought the bait and are fishing with it.   The simple fact is – the reason our health care is so expensive in this country is fundamental.  Unlike public safety, Police, Fire, Water, Sewer and other basic citizen’s services – health is for profit and the ultimate goal of the insurance companies is to minimize benefits and maximize profits. That might even work in a well running capitalistic economy, but that train is most demonstrably off-the-rails as well.

We have been, in effect, brain-washed into believing that our health system is requires insurance reform, when simply – no insurance would be the better solution.  A public health system serves everyone and if those of significant wealth chose to have private health services – the system would in no way prevent it.  Similarly, insurance fraud – one of the singularly most expensive non-return expenses of our health system, would essentially vanish.  The opportunity for young people to participate in community service by volunteering as part of National health programs could help end the reign of terror held over us by the collective avarice driven by the requirements of  ‘return-on-investment’ of  insurers and health services companies.

What’s the Prescription?

… recapture our self-respect and once again become brave good neighbors and partner with our brave young citizens who have put their healthy young blood on the line without question, while we have sat idle and permitted the looting of our treasury and over 55 years of international good-will and leadership.

It seems as though we need to finish the diagnosis in order to prescribe a fix.  But this becomes particularly difficult because Congress has made some startling assumptions.  That is to say, that by empowering only the parties that abused the system and engineered a health insurance paradigm that ostensibly circumnavigates accessible efficient health care – we’re in actuality only treating symptoms and not the underlying disease.  At the very least, this is an overwhelming deficit in our overall public safety and Homeland Security approach, which should be of paramount concern when talking about the overall health of Americans.

The health care reform discussion continually addresses improving the obfuscation as though there were legitimate solutions to be found, therein.  There haven’t been and will not be solutions by supporting an approach that at its roots is health-for-profit.  That would be as inane as suggesting that an alcoholic should be treated by changing brands of Gin.

We need to call-0ut the writers of the new public lexicon that have indoctrinated an alarming number of Americans in believing that a responsible functioning public health system is tantamount to Communism.  We need to demand that public figures be held accountable for their rhetoric and challenge those that have used their seat or office in Congress as a personal lobbying firm shilling for corporate interest instead of representing the public good as they promised by taking their Oath of Office.  So we must begin with ourselves.  Our understanding of health – preventative medicine – education – exercise – nutrition needs and enormous overhaul. But, equally important – we need to consider how insurance became the controlling factor in delivering health services.  After close historical and modern perusal, it is clear that these additional burdens to the pockets of Americans were designed out of greed, not an interest in protection as is suggested by aid or relief, but perhaps more in line with “protection” as in type of policies the Sopranos’ might offer their clients.

Here’s a prescription for another common unfortunate ailment – complacency:

  1. We recapture our initiative to think in private and practice in public.
  2. We stop promoting bad practices and stop habitually adopting talking points of broadcast ideologues that profit by misinforming the public and further profit by shilling for financial interests.
  3. We exercise our capitalistic right to withhold business from broadcast personalities that pretend to be journalists and actually engage not in commentary but in propaganda, even if inconvenient.
  4. We (many of us) must admit that we were willing accomplices and contributed to this mess by our actions or inactions.
  5. We take responsibility not only for the welfare of our families or those we hope to impress – we take responsibility to think on a larger scale than our personal comfort and thus improve our Nation.
  6. We take the time to know things that are important and stop making excuses because it takes time or interferes with our leisure.
  7. We recapture our self-respect and once again become brave good neighbors and partner with our brave young citizens who have put their healthy young blood on the line without question, while we have sat idle and permitted the looting of our treasury and over 55 years of international good-will and leadership.
  8. We do not live in fear and we practice rules of law – instead of languishing in rules of exception.
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One Response

  1. This is the 5th time I have found your website because your story is sitting on CNN (or a link with a few lines) Your commentary is very thought provoking. I just added your RSS feed. Thanks for the stimulating article.

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