America Has A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Repeat: America does not have a health CARE system. What we have is a health INSURANCE system. They are not the same thing. The first question we ask anyone who walks in the health system’s door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s deplorable. It’s disgusting. We are the only civilized country on earth where that happens. Correction — because that happens here? There is no way we can claim to be “civilized”. Civilized people don’t put profit incentive at the core of their health CARE system

It’s a testament to how thoroughly the insurance companies have bamboozled Americans that most Americans don’t even realize what they’re fighting for when they insist they want to keep the health insurance they have no matter what. Insurance companies don’t provide health care. They provide “GATEKEEPING” services. That’s it. Their job is to stand between us and our health care providers, deciding whether to let us see them or not. A “good health insurance plan” will let us see the health care providers we want — provided they’re “in-network”. A crap plan doesn’t cover anything so why bother figuring out which doctors you like; you aren’t seeing them regardless.

The health insurance companies — like for profit hospitals — are not in the business of curing patients so much as they are in the business of charging them maximum dollars for minimum services. For profit health insurance companies LOSE money every time they have to pay for an insured’s medical expenses. In their ideal world, everyone’s paranoid about their health — paying in — but incredibly healthy — requiring no paying out. Keep in mind, a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not to any “patients”. Patients (that cost money) and profits are mutually exclusive propositions.

That’s why Americans have to worry every time they get sick even IF they have decent insurance. The insurance might not cover what they need — and they won’t know about it or know how desperately they need it until it’s already happening. And that’s IF they have insurance. Without the insurance, they’d be completely at the system’s mercy — and our health insurance system has zero mercy.

How the hell did we get into this mess? To a degree, it started during WW Two. In order to direct as much money as possible to the war effort, we made it verboten for big companies to give good employees raises or to raise the salary being paid to new, skilled hires. Big companies still wanted to incentivize their best employees to stay or to motivate new, quality employees to hire on, so they started offering “hospital insurance”. The new hires seemed to like it.

In time, the war ended. So did the moratorium on raises. But, the employer-provided health insurance didn’t end. In fact, it became the “state of the art”. Though the logic behind employers providing their employees health INSURANCE (not the actual care) no longer held, the idea flourished. That was the beginning of our national health care nightmare.

While more big, medium and (now) smaller companies were forced to offer health INSURANCE to their employees, they didn’t have the ability or desire to administer the policies and their implementation. They turned to the newly burgeoning “health insurance business” to do that. The insurance companies, once empowered, were not going to give up that power easily — because that power (to decide what they’d pay for and what they wouldn’t) was the source of their money. The unions — as they should have — took full advantage of their negotiating power to carve out the best health insurance plans with the most coverage for the least out of pocket for their members. Of course they don’t want to lose that!

But even so — what the unions have isn’t the health CARE, it’s the commitment of the insurance company to cover more care. To be a “good gatekeeper” instead of a “mean one”. That is, after all, what insurance companies are: GATEKEEPERS — standing BETWEEN Americans and their actual health CARE. The reason some Americans got angry about Obamacare is because their gatekeepers refused to play along — and deliberately kept Americans from the health care providers they preferred.

I’ve joked here about the kind of health “care” coverage Republicans would create if they were honest about their intentions. I called it “TrumpCare Pick-An-Organ” because the concept was why insure organs that might never go bad on you? Why not gamble a little and save some money. You’ve got two lungs, two kidneys, two kinds of intestines — who needs it all? More to the point, who needs to waste money insuring it all? Why, nobody, of course! It went something like this…

Ask yourself — why are Republicans so opposed to universal health coverage — where every American, as their right, receives excellent health CARE. Who pays for it is never a question because WE DO. Through out tax dollars.

One of the problems Americans have with paying taxes is that we see all that money as wasted — like it was deliberately shoveled down a black hole. Throw waste atop that and the whole idea of paying taxes feels like theft. But, what if every citizen was given an itemized statement every year that showed to the penny where THEIR tax dollars went, what they were spent on and what they bought FOR that taxpayer.

We’d see clearly where our money was being wasted, for sure! But we also could point to things that our tax dollars bought for us — that we wanted — that our tax dollars could provide far more economically than via the private sector? Health CARE, for instance… Every other civilized country on earth does this more cheaply than we do and with far better outcomes.

That’s because socialized medicine is better medicine. Yes, profit incentive creates an environment conducive to innovation. One could get rich. But, in the health care environment, getting rich is counter productive. The need for profits and the need for good patient outcomes are not natural allies. In our insurance-based system, the profits always win out. The people almost always lose.

Or end up with medical bills that, ultimately, will kill them.

Universal single payer is the only answer. Personally, I’m with Bernie Sanders here — to keep the health insurance companies around is to invite abuse and just more stratification of services. Money will attract those more interested in greed than health care. The promise of health care is merely the bait in the “bait and switch”.

In A Fight Against Evil — Like Now — You HAVE TO Take A Side

In a time as immoral as ours, moral choices matter. MSNBC is about to broadcast an interview with a “non-voter”. That’s a strange concept in an environment as morally clear as this one. Even if you don’t love Joe Biden, the other choice — Donald Trump — has taken the country to a moment of genuine existential peril. That is not hyperbole. The choice isn’t so much between two men as it is between two diametrically different directions for the country to go in. This isn’t between two variations of beige paint for the living room walls. It’s actual life and death. Who the hell is STILL having a tug-of-war in their heads about which one they’d prefer?

The non-committed voter is not being careful, they’re being indecisive. It’s not the same thing. Where a careful person is weighing the information, the indecisive person is weighing their own fear of being wrong. They have no moral convictions to guide them. Their compass reacts to how the group perceives them. The last thing on earth they want is to be unpopular. They need to be accepted and they’ll do ANYTHING to be accepted — like change their mind. Or make their mind your mind.

If being accepted means hating Black people or Jews (even if on the quiet), they’ll do it even if Blacks and Jews mean nothing to them. Even if they actually like Blacks and Jews. The undecided are utterly spineless. Utterly empty.

And yet MSNBC just made the case — by “yeah, but what if-ing” a “case” for the undecided: “Yeah, but what if the undecided are right and there isn’t a clear case between Biden and Trump?” Yeah, but what if there isn’t a clear case between Hitler and whoever is running against him? What if there isn’t a clear case between throwing children in cages or separating them from their parents forever and not doing those criminal things? What if there isn’t a clear case between protecting the nation from the pandemic and NOT doing it?

It’s not just a stupid question, in the current context, MSNBC, it’s offensive. And journalistically irresponsible.

It’s the kind of question a practitioner of “both sides do it” journalism would ask because that kind of journalism, steeped in cynicism (instead of skepticism), assumes the worst of everyone. It assumes that everyone does what they do for the exact same reasons. The thief and his victim, the murderer and the murdered, the rapist and his victim. In a both sides do it world, no one is truly innocent because everyone is guilty of something. We just don’t know what.

That’s how a Donald Trump can get away with literally everything — including rape, treason and murder. He says “Don’t blame me — blame the other guy!” — his version of both sides do it. The “both sides do it” press hears the dog whistle and falls right in line. “Yeah, but what if THIS TIME Trump’s telling the truth?” they think in their heads — and they give Trump the benefit of the doubt he long ago stopped deserving.

If America’s news media were capable of aggregating the Donald Trump story, he’d already be in a federal prison — along with his whole family and the entire Republican Party. Oh, we WILL get there. We absolutely will. It’s the only place this country can go if they ever want to get healed. First things first: wrongs must be undone as much as they can be. What Donald Trump and the Republicans have done — in order to hold onto power indefinitely — must be UNdone. Or changed completely.

The big irony of our story is that the RW Money, in their desperate attempt to establish a state of permanent minority rule, will have caused America to go the very socialized places they most feared. Socialized medicine. Socialized secondary education. Universal Basic Income. Higher taxes for the wealthy (heading back toward the 1950’s when America’s economy boomed) and a bigger, broader, more compassionate social safety net. The fact is, we have no choice. There are no conservative ways out of this. They simply do not exist.

The pandemic has driven one point home: it always starts with ONE PERSON. Patient Zero. We are all susceptible because one person can infect all humanity. Therefore we must be able to treat every single person inside our borders for our own collective good. If we charge them money for it, it may be an obstacle to them seeking the care they need and we need them to seek. It would be self-destructive therefore to charge money for something essential both to each individual and to us as a society. We can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy among us.

Freedom works the exact same way. We can only really be as free as the least free among us. Freedom can’t be “everything”. That’s how children think. Freedom in a free society is weighted — the individual vs the group. Too much freedom for any individual that infringes on the group’s freedom — say, to not get shot while going to school — cannot be. One person’s perceived freedom (to own all the guns they want and fire them at will) cannot cancel another person’s freedom to live securely within their own body. Something has to give. Guess who?

I hope that’s not a hard decision. If it is — and choosing between obvious good and obvious evil — challenges you, it just so happens MSNBC just did a segment about you.

We Are About To Enter A Laboratory — Our Lives Are About To Prove That Socialized Democracy Is Better For People Than Crony Capitalism

I can’t help being an optimist — even in the worst of times ( like now).

What’s about to slam into us… I fear we’re not doing it justice. We’re still underselling how hard it’s going to hit us and how.

But that’s where I see silver lining. For starters — we can actually see what having human