By James Fieseher, M.D.
Concord (N.H.) Monitor, April 29, 2019
Health care in America has always been in the crossroads (and crosshairs) of a variety of conflicting interests.
Lately, the economics of health care has clashed with the ethics of coverage. “Should a health care system cover everyone?” vs. “Who will pay for it?” vs. “What services should be offered and at what price?”
About half the country feels that we should cover everyone while the other half feels it’s unfair to mandate or offer health care to those who cannot afford it.
These have all been contributing factors to the ridiculously overpriced and disjointed commixture that we have today, where health care is affordable only for the healthy and wealthy, and the prices are hidden.
This is the very unfair and confusing gallimaufry that conservative ideologues tout as a “free-market system” of health care. How can we call this a “free-market system” or even “capitalism” when the buyer is forced to go only to the nearest hospital, and consume services and goods whose prices are not posted and in many cases whose value is not fully understood by the consumer? How can we say we have a free society when the person taking your money determines which doctor or doctors you can see or which tests that doctor will be allowed to perform to determine your diagnosis?
Americans do not have a capitalistic system of health care; we don’t even have a working model of how our health care system is supposed to work.
Again, the ideologues indicate that since the United States comprises 50 separate states, those states can serve as “individual laboratories” for the health care system that works best for them. That theory doesn’t match the reality because the elements necessary to supply health care are national companies – the insurance, pharmaceutical and pharmacy industries. It also doesn’t address the fact that people don’t always confine themselves to just one state throughout the year.
Ironically, there are working models of health care that are more effective and cheaper than we have in the United States. You have only to look beyond our borders to see that all other industrialized nations have found ways of developing health care systems that are more comprehensive, less costly and their citizens live longer.
A universal system of health care coverage should not be confused with socialism. The measles outbreak in Brooklyn and the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire (and throughout the country) are national problems. Only by addressing our health care needs as a whole country can we obtain comprehensive and affordable health care for ourselves and our posterity.
Don’t let ideology determine your health care. It is costing us our health and our money. It is opening up a further divide in our nation and our neighborhoods. It weakens our small businesses and our economy.
Other nations have taken a common-sense approach to a health care system by abandoning ideology. Instead, they examine their needs and then fashion a plan that they can afford. We should do the same.