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Friday, December 5, 2008

Life Happens: Another Shout for Universal Health Coverage

When emergencies happen, there's no time for ideology or pettiness. Crises reveal our true nature. As I've said before, in a crisis, we are all socialists.

Sam Hurst seconds that observation with his Monday Dakota Day commentary on the need to scrap our private health insurance system. Musing over his medical expenses from a broken wrist this summer, Hurst observes, "No one is a libertarian in the emergency room":

We can do all the right things. We can improve wellness education and primary care. We can promote anti-smoking commercials on television. We can sponsor walk-a-thons to get in shape. We can discover brave new drugs. We can list ingredients on the packages of unhealthy foods. But in the end, life happens.

Humans are born with a truly enormous array of life shaping hitches-alcoholism, mental illness, congenital disease, weak backs, genetic inclinations to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. And we live in a happy community where joyful, exuberant, little boys run backward onto bike paths, and middle-aged men instinctively hit the brakes and fly ass over head.

I'm betting that deep inside, after all the clucking and posturing about economic responsibility and free market efficiencies, and "Big Brother" medicine, that it will really come down to this: We are our brothers' keeper. And we don't really want it any other way.

My lesson is that our private health system is inefficient, expensive, punitive, grotesquely bureaucratic, and based on the false premise that the health of American citizens can be shoehorned in to an insurance model built for home fires and auto fender repairs. When I say it like that...it sounds ridiculous. Please President Obama, please Secretary Daschle, please Senators Johnson and Thune...act quickly [Sam Hurst, "There Are No Libertarians in the Emergency Room," The Dakota Day, 2008.12.01].

I'm with you, Sam! Health care is a rotten place to act out a political debate. Let's just take care of people... and let's acknowledge what the rest of the industrialized world has realized: that the most efficient, effective way to take care of people is through socialized health coverage.

p.s.: Sam's headline reminds me: Wouldn't our political discourse be much richer and clearer if the Republicans and Democrats disbanded and let the Libertarian and Socialist parties take over as the main rivals in our political system?

1 comment:

  1. ... based on the false premise that the health of American citizens can be shoehorned in to an insurance model built for home fires and auto fender repairs.

    Exactly! We are trying to "insure" our very lives against inevitable catastrophes. "False" and "ridiculous" don't begin to cover that concept. "Idiotic" and "insane" would be better words.


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