Sunday, 26 July 2009

Living the fear: getting sick in the US

Don't get ill or injured in America. In particular, avoid those nasty terminal cancers and scary heart conditions. Unless you're super rich or have divine self-healing powers.

Barack Obama is promising universal healthcare for all US citizens. Well, they elected him to do just that. Didn't they? So, he'll do it, yes?

Not if
the big 'healthcare' corporations can help it. And it looks like it'll happen over their dead bodies - or, more likely, the bodies of the almost 50 million Americans without any meaningful health cover.

We've been here before, of course with the Clintons, those 'evangelists' for universal medicare. Just take a look at Michael Moore's Sicko to see how easily they were persuaded to drop such dangerous notions.

Having sorted that little 'health scare' with the usual corporate payoff, "Big Pharma" became even more vigilant donors to Hilary and Barack, serving to keep the Democrats calm and stabilised.

Now facing Obama's new 'health mandate', the private insurance industry are back in preventative voice, warning Americans about the 'malignant consequences' of 'socialised medicine'.

Alas, Obama's faltering defence of the healthcare bill before Congress appears symptomatic of his administration's pretence reform energies - deep-imaging a wider metastases across the US body politic. As this revealing piece on the President's lacklustre campaign ruminates:
"While Obama dealt in abstractions, his opponents went for the gut. On television, every other commercial is a scare story about government-administered medical care. "President Obama and his gang cannot run the healthcare industry, and they will create chaos if they try," crowed Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. "The folks know this, and that's why the president is taking a beating. He does not understand that freedom trumps ideological legislation." "
Still, here's a healthy looking prognosis for this freedom-trumping citizen:
"From 2000 to 2007, profits at the 10 largest publicly traded health insurance companies increased by 428%. The average CEO salary was $11.9 million. One year, the president of United Health made so much money that $1 in every $700 spent on healthcare in the US went to pay him."
And a few sobering reminders of why, for all its lamentable faults, we need to defend the NHS.
"Art critic Adam Mendelsohn stitched his own face after being bitten by a dog, because he couldn't afford a trip to casualty. He bought drugs in a pet shop, because "you can get amoxicillin and tetracycline from fish antibiotics". As a freelance writer, insurance is prohibitively expensive for him. "If there's something wrong with you, the first place you go is the internet, not a doctor," he says."

"I heard from a couple who were told to drive 100 miles to their primary care clinic when their baby caught pneumonia because it didn't qualify as an emergency; a woman who discovered a cyst on her ovary but can't afford the follow-up scan and must hope that it is benign; a lighting designer whose insurer pays for genetic breast cancer screening, but will double her premium if the test comes back positive; a taxi driver who ruptured his knee playing baseball, but cycled to hospital on one leg because it costs $1,000 to call an ambulance. These are mundane, everyday occurrences."
Yes, this is the country of 'choice', 'market opportunity' and 'individual freedoms'. It's also the country that lectures the Third World on healthcare and development while treating its own people as disposable flesh and bones.


1 comment:

Gregg's Health Insurance News said...

I strongly agree with your assessment. Cry all they want, as long as the Democrats talk out of one side of their mouths, and accept big pharma and health insurer money under the table when they think nobody is looking...there will be no true reform of the system.