Left Justified: I need better health care

By Stanley Campbell

I get yelled at a lot. Usually by phone, usually by someone who disagrees with one of my columns. I don’t like getting yelled at. I enjoy the more philosophical discussions that are going extinct. I enjoy exchanging ideas and ideals with people who really want to share knowledge and, at the same time, be open to learning something.

So, when I got a message on my machine that started “You damn liberals and your health care are going to…” I hit the erase button. I did not want to hear it. First, I don’t want to get an ulcer. I have health insurance, but I don’t use it much: I’m afraid it will go up in price. Sometimes I wait for symptoms to worsen before seeing a doctor.

The new laws I think will protect me, and I’ll make more appointments when I am sick. I think. The media focused on the infighting and yelling more than the actual changes being suggested. I still don’t know where the “death panel” idea came from.

Anyone who thinks it should be OK to profit off sickness is suffering from a greater sickness than cancer. I can understand why a car salesman deserves profit by selling a Hummer (especially in this economy). But if I get run over by a Hummer, why should someone make profit off my misfortune? When facing death, we all would pay whatever it takes for good health. But we don’t really have time to research best prices while lying mangled in the road.

They say a liberal is a conservative who got sick and was rejected by his insurance company.

I long for the day when sickness is treated without cost to the patient, and is paid for by my taxes, which are shared by society. No one should profit from disease, especially bureaucratic insurance companies. By the way, early insurance companies were set up to share the cost of misfortune (yes, they were not for profit).

Doctors spend (some say invest) a lot of money into becoming professionals. Really, we should do what Cuba does and invest tax money into sending the best students to medical school. We should do what China did and teach thousands of paraprofessionals, sending them into neighborhoods to educate people about taking better care of themselves.

We should do what Switzerland does and take the profit out of health insurance (yes, there are still insurance companies in Switzerland—and they vie for the consumers’ approval).

The World Health Organization ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. was 37th. In the fairness of health care, we’re 54th. “The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world” (The European Dream, pages 79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less for your money.

But we should also go after the graft and corruption inherent in the system: doctors double billing, patients colluding with corrupt companies. These are good conservative suggestions.

Let me say there’s probably a lot I could agree with conservatives about, if they would just stop yelling at me.

  Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

 From the April 21-27, 2010 issue

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