Sunday, January 24, 2016

The (Deadly) Problem with American Healthcare

Healthcare is meant to produce health and longevity, but American-style healthcare is meant to skim money off the top, before any actual care is offered.

This guy wasn't hateful because he was profit-oriented. It was because he wanted
to fuck over his consumers. He's different from Pfizer how? (Hint: a matter of degree.)

My angle on healthcare -- and American-style capitalism in general -- has focused on how we insert a layer of profit-skimming into the system before the first good or service is offered. It's really that simple.

Any discussion of how "we could do it right" or "better" begins and ends there. The problem with Obamacare -- and current discussions on the Democratic Party side of the current presidential race -- is centered around "what was possible." Paul Krugman stuck his foot in it by siding, quite sensibly or realistically, with the Clinton camp that maintains it was the best we could get and moving forward means tinkering around the edges of the current (and corrupt) healthcare system we got.

People who feel the Bern are up in arms at this pragmatism, to which, I confess, I am drawn. But the Sanders side really has it right: burn down the healthcare house and start from scratch. Why? Because the system is corrupt. (Of course, to live in that fantasy world would require that we ignore our current political reality, but why spoil the party?)

Obamacare survived -- and there's much it offers that is good! -- by including the profit-skimming-before-the-first-service-is-delivered part of the equation. I remember the healthcare debate. The Republicans, to a man or woman, were totally aligned against it. The final package was shaped by the purple-state senators. Want this thing to pass? Forego the public option.

It boiled down to that. Why? The public option would have severely curtailed the skimming. Simple as that. Allow the skimming to proceed, we've got a deal.

What do advanced democracies do in the rest of the world? Curtail the skimming, take the resources, and turn them into goods and services -- and healthcare! -- in order to increase health and longevity.

Which, of course, leads to higher productivity of the workforce, a more content society, you know, the good stuff, even a healthier consumer class.

If that's Bernie-style socialism, count me in.

Final thought: Argue any way you want about these issues, but let's not fool ourselves. If the American people, in their wisdom, think that free markets are the solution to healthcare, it's only because their heads are stuck in the sand, or worse.

So, in the end, people suffer and die needlessly. Go capitalism! The political dynamic? Republicans, skimming! Democrats, less skimming! Socialists, stop skimming!

Which is better? You pick.

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