Sep 16, 2009

Universal Health Care for Dummies

Those that know me, know perfectly well where I stand in this so call "debate" on universal healthcare. Even if you don't know me personally but you read my blog, you probably know where I stand, but so far, I kept my mouth shut (or better said my fingers quiet) and didn't talk about the issue in my blog for two main reasons:

a) I didn't see real debate happening, what the media was showing as "debate" was just a bunch of ignorant/misinformed/selfish/fearful individuals (choose one or all of the above) yelling nonsense.

b) More important so, there was little "creativity" around the issue: at the beginning most of the material available was coming from those against universal healthcare and let's face it, people so afraid of change tend to have little creativity.

But finally those for the plan have started to surface with their own take on the matter and I want to share with you some of the good material I found here and there. (Note: if I am calling these "good material" is not just because I agree with what they say but because of how they say so.)

Let's start with these cards from SomeEcards. I talked about them before, but they have conquered my heart with these e-cards about the issue: my sentiments exactly!

Now, a video that I think it should have been named:

"Universal Healthcare for Dummies"
(Think about it. The water in your house comes from a "socialist" service:
Beware, by drinking it you may become a commie!)

Animated by Andy Lubershane. More comics at

So, we all talk about "the facts". The problem being, which facts? Which ones do you believe in? Here is what happened to someone trying to get good, real, reliable info online about the plan (for or against it):

Ze Frank finds out that "It's complicated"

This last video may not be as funny as the ones before, but it clearly presents facts. Facts with names and numbers and parents or kids. Not funny maybe but on the creative side, a little gem. Made with "social" help, giving voice to those that need it the most, and the music of R.E.M.

If you have any doubt, I guess now is obvious that I am all for universal healthcare. I do not need it, I have healthcare here through my job AND I keep my private healthcare in my native country. I simply believe that health is like education: everyone should have access to it on time.

Last but not least, a couple of thoughts.

For those that believe that a public option would be "unfair" for the private companies: have you seen any private university closing their doors due to the "unfair" competition that public schools represent?

For those that do not want to do it now, because "we need to get it right": Do you really believe that 40 years in the making is not time enough? And do you believe that when the actual system fails, you will be able to get it "right" then, in a hurry?

And for those that are just wondering "how we'll pay for it" I hope you never lose the private healthcare you have now. On second thoughts, I hope you lose it. Don't get me wrong, I am not wishing you bad. I am just wishing that you experience the same experience other have. Maybe that way you will understand a bit better how awful it may be to be sick or have your relatives sick and think "how I will pay for what they need"?

The US has an enormous advantage to get it right. We can learn from all the others countries out there with universal healthcare. We can take what works and avoid proven mistakes. We can be creative and start working on a problem when it's in the early stages. You know what? I hate super used slogans, but I will make an exception this time: "Yes, we can".


Anonymous said...

OK I'll bite. Your comparison of water coming from a Socialist Service v. socializing medicine is hardly a good analogy. The military is also socialized, maybe you should have used that example.

I tried using a similar analogy yesterday in my kid's school. He's having problems with potty training, and I don't feel the school is participating or spending any time helping me address this. So I said, "What if a kid was having speech problems or couldn't learn the alphabet? Are you saying that extra attention shouldn't be brought to those issues? My kid's toilet problems are less important?"

Guess what? It didn't work. Apples and Elephants. Talk to you later.

San said...

My dear: it seems to me that you didn't actually see the video and I am not sure you read the whole article. That analogy is not mine, but it's in the video.

MY analogy is with education, at the end of the article.

Now, about the potty training, I have to confess that I do not share your analogy. Call me old fashioned but for me school is for teaching some specific things not all things that your kids need to learn in life.

You teach your kid about toilets, hopefully they will teach him about math...

girrl88 said...

Thank you for putting this page together. I am on Medicaid due to my disability and I keep trying to explain to people that Medicaid works, not perfectly, but it does work - so why are they so terrified of the government setting up another version of health insurance? I could understand if it was a fear of the unknown but that's not it... These folks are terrified but they've also got their fingers in their ears and are screaming lalalalalala with all their might.

To Anonymous - You're right, apples and elephants. You're asking the apple school to teach your kid elephants. It doesn't work that way.

Anonymous said...

So you agree that doctors should be payed a base salary? Nevermind the fact that to just become a doctor costs Thousands of dollars, but you want to tell me that you are gonna take away any incentive to be good at their job with a base pay salary? What happens when your father or mother needs to have a simple surgery and the only person you can find is a doctor who doesnt care?

San said...

I am glad that you feel that now the doctors do care. That is not my feeling with the ones working for the big insurance companies.. in fact the only one I found that I felt he care, was totally turned off for all that insurance companies demand from them (i.e a minimum of patients to see per week, meaning that the less time they give their patients a better "incentive" for them, even if that means giving me just 5 minutes of their day).

I don't know if the base salary would be good or bad, but I don't see anything good in how the "incentives" work now.

I want doctors to live with dignity like anyone else, but I want them to care about their jobs not because of money, I want them to take their oath seriously and not being related to "how much can I squeeze from this patient"....

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your reply. I am currently a nurse. I am guessing that just the way you have stereotyped most doctors as somewhat heartless partners with insurance companies, I have stereotyped the ones who I have seen. I currently work in an intensive care at a teaching hospital. I have seen doctors both residents and attendings be with a patients family when they are dying or are in desperate need of emergent surgery. These doctors are here for their patients and their families. So I am guessing our experiences have been alot different.
I dont know if I adequately described what I meant by incentives. Firstly, I honestly believe that the salaries that doctors make is not the problem. However are you aware of how much it cost to go to medical school? How much you get paid for the 4 years of residency after medical school? Well I will answer this. On average it can range anywhere from 22,000 to 40,000/year depending on the type of school you go to. This does not include the average 10 to 18,000 dollars for additional expenses just for school alone. We wont even put in cost of living. So average all that and its around 200,000 plus cost of living. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Lets talk residency. During this time they are paid 10 to 15 dollars an hour! Less than a nurse! This residency can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years and is not considered school so student loans are now coming in 6 months after graduating from med school. Oh and as if this isnt enough they have to work 60 to 100 hours A WEEK! And these shifts are 24 to 48 hours.
So I apologize for that rant... I realize that giving doctors a decreased salary may seem like a good idea to "weed out" the ones who do it just for the money... but what about the truly good ones. Who research their specialty to give the absolute best care to their patients? Who show up after a 20 hour day of surgery who just got home got in bed and show up an hour later because they wanna be there for the patients families. Sorry but this is just one of the things I have issues with this healthcare reform he is planning. But I do love having an honest conversation with the opposing view. So what do you think?

San said...

I also appreciate your reply. Funny enough in my first answer I was going to ask if you work with doctors or have a relative that is the doctor as I noticed that normally those are the ones that have good personal experiences. My experience (and I know I am not talking just about me as this is something I have discussed with friends a lot) is pretty lousy. I always feel like I am a number not a person. And I do have a "good" insurance.

Now, answering your questions: I am aware of the costs of studying but two wrongs do not make a right. I am appalled for the cost that studying in general means here and -in a lot of cases- how low is the bar in that education.

I used to teach at the National University in my native country (at the Bachelor degree) and I when I came here I was asked to review final tests from students here.. students that were studying for a Master degree. I just couldn't believe it. Some of those students that did pass their tests here would not have pass my classes at a Bachelor level. But... you know what? Education here has become another "business" what is the other wrong.

Now, let me ask you this.. how many doctors do you know that are financially broke? really, I don't know many in this country. On the other hand, how many people do go broke because they need a surgery or have an illness and even having insurance they are denied coverage? If you add to that the ones that do not have insurance, I am sure the ratio is at least 1:10

Doctors do spend a lot of money in their insurance against malpractice claims though, and I do believe that also a cap should be applied to those claims, what would help them to level the field between earnings and spending.

We do have to start somewhere. This reform is a good starting point, probably not perfect but much better than the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Why not spend a little more time getting a plan that is leaps and bounds better than just pushing this plan in that makes it harder to reform in smaller steps?

San said...

So now you are changing the argument... :)

I think there are two very, very, very good reasons to not "wait a little" to get this done.

The first argument being that this has been proposed (in one way or the other) since 40 years ago and none was done. So we all wait a little and nothing is better but worst.

If the group that now opposes this plan saying that "something better could be done" would really want to get this done, they have majority in more than one ocassion to do it. But none was done.

The second argument, in my opinion the most important one, is that we know that as it is the healthcare system is heading to a crisis. If nothing is cahnged now (giving us time to improve it once in place), do you really think that when the crisis strike, someone will be able to come up with a better plan in weeks?

Anonymous said...

First of All the crisis is not gonna strike in weeks. If its been going the way it has for the past forty years do you really think its all going to come to a head tomorrow. You do not have personal experience in healthcare and while this is all fun to talk about you have no idea the numerous possibilites that there are to help change this healthcare. So yeah I am gonna pull out my healthcare experience card and tell you no crisis in the next four years... any thoughts on the crazy focus on healthcare as a red herring for what he isnt doing overseas?

San said...

Of course the crisis will not strike in two months or two years. But what you are saying is let's wait until it gets worst and then we can think in a rush something better than anything that has been proposed in 40 years.

Sadly, I think that now you are showing your true colors. On the one hand, you have changed again the argument. On the other hand, your new argument makes it clear that you are against this goverment so no matter what they do, you will be complaining and against it.

I will be nice, and I will answer your question: red herring? Hell, no! A big part of Obama's campaign was based on healthcare reform. He is just doing what he said he wanted to do.

Your "credentials" in health care matter little to me and probably even less to those that can't access healthcare. Those that you rather let die, because you know, they are poor or unemployed now, but we need to take 4 or 8 or 12 years more to think how we can bring to them basic healthcare making sure no doctor goes broke in the way.

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Anonymous said...

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