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Take the business out of health care

Among some of us Americans there’s the opinion that only those who can hold a job where health insurance is provided through their workplace, and have thereby “earned it,” should have health insurance.  These folks apparently are unaware of the consequential outrage should the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be ultimately repealed with immediate premium price increases 20 percent and higher expected.

One consideration that brings sadness in addition to the extreme social unsettling that would result from the ACA’s demise is the attitude of uncaring that delivers the message, “I’ve got mine and care not what happens to you.” Meanwhile, relative to health insurance in America, some of those who harbor contempt for their fellow citizens most likely don’t realize that their own “great” health plan could sour considerably by taking all of us back to pre-ACA with regular health insurance owners paying for the emergency room care of millions of Americans without health insurance.

Look to Medicare as a model that’s much more efficient than any for-profit health insurance because it provides a means by which the middleman position of our American health insurance companies is eliminated and thereby does not profit from the fact that virtually all of us need medical attention to one degree or another throughout our lives.  We are all Americans, “created equal,” and should not by any intervention of our fellow humans be denied it because we were not fortunate enough to be employed in a place providing health insurance or financially solvent at the American version of the game of life.

A relevant remembrance of my youth of several decades ago was an America where medical science was not nearly as advanced as now and where many American families took care of the sick and elderly in their own homes.  America has changed so that that condition no longer prevails.  Nevertheless, there are ways we can continue to be sympathetic and benevolent by collectively, through our national wealth, look after the sick and aged by a dramatic reform in health coverage and availability.

I was reminded the other day of Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary, Sicko.  The film was made before the ACA but is a salient reminder of how national health care works for the people of Canada, Cuba, France, the United Kingdom and others aspiring to embrace a caring-for-others national life culture.  Other, even much less wealthy nations than ours, have it and it works very well for them while the only real complainers about it are profit-making health insurance companies here who want only to make profits at the expense of so many Americans who can just barely afford it.

Of course,  such a big change as national health care would upset the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies.  Had we the members of Congress whose campaigns were supported by the public purse—and thereby could ignore the thousands upon thousands of insurance and medical lobbyists and their bags of money—the change could be made and American lives would be more important than money-making.  The bottom line that makes most sense is the line that brings us to a health care system that serves all of us rather than only the lucky ones.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)