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Monday, September 7, 2009

Private Health Care Fundamentally Flawed: Socialize Medicine Now!

Your access to health care should not hinge on whether the economy is doing o.k. and you can keep your current job. You should not be stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills because your employer turns deadbeat without telling you.

And when you go to the hospital, you should not be treated like a piece of meat on the John Morrell's slaughter line:

LARRY CHURCHILL: There are very few relationships in which we're asked to take off our clothes and be examined by people with the idea that it's going to be safe to do that and tell them about intimate parts of our history that we probably don't tell anyone else about. That makes it special. That's making oneself vulnerable and sometimes a fairly profound way. Or going under anesthesia for an operation. If someone says, "I'm going to put you to sleep and we're going to cut you open and do certain things to you and it is all going to be fine and good for you," that's a pretty big leap of faith.

MAGGIE MAHAR: Larry Churchill is a bio-ethicist and one of the heroes of his profession. A discipline that struggles with the hardest moral questions regarding medicine. He doesn't just ask his students to wrestle with end of life care or stem cell research. He takes a clear-eyed look at the most difficult ethical questions regarding how you deliver care in a profit driven system.

LARRY CHURCHILL: We're now treating medicine as if it were an industrial product. Through put. How many units of care can you deliver? The idea that you are going to see a patient on average for between 12 and 15 minutes, no matter what their condition or how many kinds of problems they have or how complicated their diagnoses or how much reassurance they might need is an idea that you can treat medicine like a production line product and you can turn out patients in the same way like we produce widgets. That's a commercialization and an industrialization of the relationship. So this is a system which is fundamentally broken in terms of the kind of conflicts it raises in the minds of physicians and, also, in the minds of the patients.

[excerpt from Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much, broadcast on Bill Moyers Journal, 2009.08.28]

The private health coverage system is inescapably, morally flawed. It's time for serious reform, complete with (yes, say it, McCarthyite Republicans and cowardly Democrats be damned) socialized medicine that guarantees coverage and treats all Americans like human beings, not widgets.


  1. In the main I'm "conservative" (whatever that means), but on this issue I have to agree with you one hundred percent, Cory.

    How will we as a society pay for a switchover to socialized medicine? Or will socialized medicine in fact cost less overall than the current kludge system, thereby paying us back in real dollars long-term?

    Health, like education, ought to be viewed as an investment, not an expense, yes?

  2. Investment not an expense -- very good application of thinking on other points, Stan!

    I remain convinced that socialized medicine (or heck, just socialized insurance) will produce cost savings, if we do it right. We have lots of models of other countries using some form of national health insurance spending much less of their GDP on health care. Our taxes may go up, but our premiums and other costs will go down. As I've said before, I'll pay for it by paying $3600 more in taxes, if it means I can get rid of my health insurance premium and end up with better, non-bankrupting access to health care for my family.


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