Sunday, September 10, 2006

At least I'm trying to find solutions...

I'm taking a class dealing with social problems. My objective is to "think outside the box", or look at these social problems from a point of view different from the one I currently hold. It's not that my current point of view is necessarily bad, but I think that too often we get comfortable in our views and aren't all that open to changing our mind. As a student of history and politics with an insatiable appetite for research and finding solutions to problems, I thought this type of course would be perfect for me. I could not have been more right.

The week which just passed saw our class discussing the current health care crisis in America. Make no mistake, there is a health care crisis. The cost of simple office visits, hospital services, medical equipment and medication is skyrocketing. The only people able to afford adequate care are those with insurance and those with the financial resources to pay for care even without insurance. Those left behind are the millions of middle class and poor Americans, most of who have no insurance for a variety fo reasons and for those who do, their copayments for the doctor visits and large numbers of medications they must take, far exceed their financial resources.

I care about the health care crisis. Despite the comment from a classmate that "the rich and people with insurance don't care" we do. Each of us must have at least one friend or family member in a health care crisis and yes for me it is close to home. I struggle daily with the issue of for-profit healthcare vs. the welfare of the people. Not a philosopher at heart, I am not sure how to attack this issue and come out on the winning side, if there even is a winning side.

You should know that I vehemently promote personal responsibility and while yes personal responsibility now keeps away potential future problems, it doesn't necessarily solve any current problems and the health care crisis is as much a current crisis as it is a future one, the current being far more important. We must solve the problem at hand. And that's what I want....solutions.

I read several posts on the class discussion board about how Americans are lazy, have no wish to help one another, how the almight dollar rules, how medicine for profit should be outlawed, how doctors should be forced to work pro-bono and how health care should be FREE for all Americans.

But I read not one solution, not even a proposal. It wouldn't have mattered how far out of space it might have seemed, it would have been a start, something to build upon. I kept reading posts about how health care in European countries is so much better (I did actually post a reply about just how damaged Canada's health care system really is but no one replied). I asked several times "ok if you want completely FREE healthcare, what tax rate do you propose?" I asked if they would be interested in a 33% federal tax hike, nobody answered. I asked if they were certain they wanted government to take over the health care system completely. Nobody answered. Oh but their suggestions sounded good but in reality, a 33% tax hike to pay for care for every person in America would certainly bankrupt me. But I suppose it would be worth it if my neighbor was able to get free health care from an ingrown toenail to a heart transplant. All paid for by you and me.

Oh I had some solutions, one of which included renaming Medicare and raising the premiums slightly that we each pay in through our employer. Now for those who are unemployed, since they cannot pay in, they would be allowed a certain amount of care free, but monitored and when they did get a job, they would begin to pay that back over a period of time but not so much as to it affecting their income greatly. Oh sure it's got holes in it but it's a start.

Since I believe that preventive care now will keep millions of people from being ill in the future, I proposed those funds in the renamed program cover preventive care like mental health screenings, physicals, immunizations, and certain other preventive exams depending on age group. For instance a person of age 30 would not need a diabetes or heart disease screening (unless it was hereditary) but a person of 45 or more would. The basic care for a 20 year old woman is different from that of a 50 year old woman. The basic care for a 20 year old man is far different from that of a 60 year old man. It is a fact that certain diseases and conditions afflict certain age groups more predominantly than others. So the basic care covered by taxpayer funded premiums should be limited to that care and to prescription drugs (though I am not sure which ones yet). Then, all individuals could opt for a supplemental private health insurance policy to cover more serious things like cancer surgeries, transplants and other necessary procedures.

We are always being told of men and women who die of illnesses which could be prevented because they could not afford the preventive care. Under my suggestion, everyone would be able to participate in preventive care. This could lower the numbers of undetected cancers, heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses not caught early because people can't afford to go to the doctor.

Oh sure, my plan isn't flawless, there are many problems with it and questions raised by each problem, but I'm ok with that, because you can take something that has many flaws and build upon it. (Case in point: Declaration of Independence, which was revised continuously with many unpopular compromises until the final piece of work was complete). And you know what? I was the only person in the class who offered up ANY suggestion other than the generic and rather tired phrase "we should have free health care for everyone." That's not a solution, tell me HOW and WHAT we should do, now that's at least a start. With my suggestion, I was open for comments and feedback but all I kept reading was how the rich don't pay their fair share, how doctors are greedy and should not be working for profit and on and on. It was like nobody was listening.

You know the majority of people in this class are young and clueless. No, they're not stupid, they're just young and inexperienced. I was once young and inexperienced as were many of you reading this. We thought we knew how the world worked but years later we say to ourselves and anyone who will listen "what were we thinking?" These kids in this class are as wer were when we were that age but there's one dangerous difference----the mentality of the times has changed and class warfare is running rampant more than ever before. These young kids are repeating this which was heard from their parents and sadly, their teachers. And they believe it, it is almost like indoctrination, it's so sad.

Our elected officials often use class warfare as an excuse not to solve serious problems in America. When proposed with a problem which needs solving, they simply point fingers and blame the rich. This is happening in my class and I sit back feeling frustrated and wondering if there is hope for these young people.

And so even with the class warfare and pessimism running rampant through the class, I am optimistic, as is my instructor, and a few of the other older students. For me this class isn't about being popular or having the best solution, it's about looking at life and the problems of life from new perspectives which will allow me to come up with real workable solutions.

And someday I just might have the "one".

1 comment:

  1. See, you want these children to actually think, which hasn't been expected, required, or unfortunately, even desired of them for most of their lives.

    I wonder how many of these kids who rail against greedy doctors plan to give any of their beyond-basic-living-expenses income to the less-privileged? How many of them are willing to put in the hours towards a medical degree, and the intemsive, grueling hours of training required, without any thoughts of higher compensation than the uneducated earn?

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