Is There A Doctor In The House? On “Sicko” – A Second Look At Accessibility Of Health Care In The US

sicko-coverWith the advent of Michael Moore’s “Sicko“, the accessibility of Health Care in the United states (and lack of it) has been brought back into focus. His advocacy for National Health Insurance is not a solution. It is his position, which he explains using the movie.

In my post (Feb 12, 2007) on this subject, I suggested that there needs to be other solutions that neither the private sector nor government control. “We need to tell, not only to the politicians, but the universities, problem-solvers, creative thinkers and economists that they need to step forward and propose other ideas. It’s from these kinds of thinkers, with focused and dedicated politicians, that the answer must come.”

I am reposting this essay (with some changes) at this time because this is a topic that affects us all. The United States is at a crossroads. The American Public must send a clear message to the politicians, the pharmaceutical companies, and the Medical Care Industry, that it’s time has come.

There is no excuse or logic why so many people in the United States remain uninsured or have no accessibility to medical care. In a country so rich, with almost unlimited resources as the United States, I fail to understand any excuses that try and explain it. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have failed to find any reasonable solution to the biggest failure of the American Government (both under democrats and republicans) and to the American way of life.

medicaid-logoThe only two choices that have been presented to date are: government control of the medical care system (socialized medicine, as in Canada) which needs a lot of thought and consideration, or a private-sector Medical Care system whose accountability remains more involved with its investors. What we have now is a split between private sector control (accessible for those who can afford it) and a public medical care system for others who can’t (Medicaid). We also have non-profit medical providers which are supported partially by the government and private donations.

Although everyone agrees that change is needed, there are many differing views on which of these two choices would solve it. What we really need are enlightened economists/philosophers with vision to come along and propose more creative options, new ways of looking at this problem and perhaps rethink the whole medical structure in this country. The following are some of the current issues which have resulted from a mostly republican philosophy, expressed by the current republican administration.

The pharmaceutical companies control the price of drugs which they claim are high because they need the money to continue researching new drugs for treatment. Yet here in the United States, they spend billions of dollars to advertise new prescription drugs on television, radio and magazines, to manipulate the population to put pressure on their doctors to prescribe brand name medications even though generic drugs are perfectly good to treat most conditions. They claim that this advertising serves to “educate” the public. This money would better be served by putting it into research. These companies also pay undisclosed fees to Physicians for lectures and other services to encourage them to prescribe brand name drugs. They retain strong lobbies in Washington, influencing politicians of both parties to support their positions.

Part of the problem is that the pharmaceutical companies are businesses. Their accountability is to their stockholders not the American people. They are in business to make as much profit as they can. Their accountability always remains with their private investors. This is part of the complex problem of solving the Health Care Crisis in this country.

The cost of using HMO’s (also private corporations) have sharply risen for those who have them. When I started paying for an individual policy three years ago, it was approximately $320 a month, and is now just over $700 a month for standard individual coverage. Most HMO’s won’t touch you if you have any pre-existing conditions. That is standard policy with all HMO’s.

medicaid-spending-projectionjpgChildren, the future of the American society, go uninsured throughout the country. People are forced to crowd the emergency rooms because they don’t have the money or the coverage to go to doctors, while the Medicaid system is forced to absorb all these costs at taxpayers’ expense.

The Republican Administration enacts laws to prevent people from getting medications from cheaper sources like Canada which they claim is for the benefit of the American population. They reason that Canadian drugs have not been proven to be safe for US consumption. The President and his administration, acting as the grand protector of the United States, will do everything to keep the American population safe, so the propaganda goes.

Anyone who has visited Canada, seen their medical system and the quality of their pharmacies, know that all that is a bunch of governmental fabrications aimed at propping up the American pharmaceutical companies to keep them in control of the costs. Everything that the Republican administration (and controlled congress) has done to date has been more for the benefit of the drug companies than for the American population.

The FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION has become more of a political arm for the Republican administration, by creating the illusion they exist to protect the American population. This is also true of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The politicians go on and on. The republicans would put a band-aide approach on the medical care system and prop up the HMO’s and American pharmaceutical companies while continuing to require Americans to pay exorbitant fees for everything medical.

The democrats, newly elected to control both senate and House, are still so lukewarm and disorganized about medical care reform that they provide no concrete leadership to rely on to negotiate a reasonable re-haul of the medical care system.

What we need to do is what Peter Finch did in the film NETWORK, where he told people to go to their window, open it up and yell as loud as they could: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” We need to tell, not only the politicians, but the universities, the problem-solvers, creative thinkers and economists that they need to step forward and propose new ideas, any idea. It’s from these kinds of thinkers, with focused and dedicated politicians, that the answer must come.

It is very frustrating that solutions to this problem remain bi-polar. No new creative ideas. I believe the United States can do better. The answer won’t come from politicians alone. They will have to come from all of us.