An Independent Thought on Collective Health Care

I’m going to let you in on a trade secret. The very nature of writing for this paper means that I have to be a little bit psychic. You see, while you’re reading this article today (and by “today” I mean at least March 4th), I’m actually writing this article almost two weeks ago (February 22nd). To have my article published properly, the volunteer army of editors, designers, and printers need to have it submitted about a week and a half in advance of the date of print.



The reason I bring this up is to further accentuate the following statement: I have no idea who I will be voting for in the primary election. You see, not only do I not know who I’m backing, but I know for sure that there is no way I’ll figure it out over the next week and a half between today (the day I’m writing this) and today (the day you’re reading this).



Confused yet? So am I.



The problem is this: even when there aren’t differences in opinion between myself and each candidate, there are issues of trust that need to be overcome. Let’s just say that between the major candidates that remain, I’m not filled with a whole lot of confidence that they’ll even stick to their campaign promises, let alone affect positive change when they do. That’s why I’m glad that no one is counting on my endorsement to help them make their own decision. It kind of takes the pressure off of things for me.



However, despite the passing of the Ohio primary, we’re still faced with a major decision in the fall. Therefore, while I’ll make no pitch to sell you on any one candidate, I thought I would think out loud on a few of the issues that bother me.



Take health care for example. I hear just about every candidate suggest that all Americans should have access to quality health care. But if you think about it, haven’t we already accomplished that? Despite what Michael Moore would have you believe, Americans have access to the finest doctors and medicines in the entire world. Want proof? Ask yourself, where do the wealthiest people in the world (Saudi Sheiks for example) go for complicated medical procedures? When the most powerful people in the world (say, a high-ranking Russian official) need treatment, from what country do they fly the specialists? It sure isn’t Cuba. No matter what a candidate tries to tell you, the problem isn’t access itself, rather, it’s relative expectations of attainability.



That said, my main concern is this: when was the last time services got better, easier, or cheaper after the government took things over? If you want a look at government-run health care, look no further than the Veterans hospitals. If they haven’t been able to run those successfully, then how does expanding their responsibilities make things any better?



As I said, the problem isn’t that there is a lack of quality care out there; it’s that, apparently, not everyone is comfortable in how they get it. So the last thing I want my government to do is start interfering with the parts of a system that are working just fine to try to change the parts that aren’t. If the brakes go bad in your car, the last thing you want the mechanic to do is start tinkering with the engine.



That said, we’re still left with the problem at hand: how we make it possible for someone earning minimum wage to get the same level of care as a corporate CEO. But that’s where I’ve got news for you: It’s not possible. I know a lot of you are still holding onto the dream of some utopian society where everyone shares equally the fruits of collective labor. But let’s face it, that’s just not a reality.



The real situation is this: even IF the government institutes a state-run health care system, someone somewhere will find a way to develop a system of private doctors and private hospitals, where anyone with the extra money will be able to skip the lines of the regular hospital and not have to deal with the government red tape. With the power of wealth behind them, they’ll quickly draw out many of the best doctors, most talented surgeons, and top-of-the-line staff to fill their needs. Leaving the average person once again in the position of having access only to what’s afforded them.



Likewise, if you continue to increase the tax burden upon the rich to pay for the poor, the only thing you’ve done is made more people poor. While it seems like a simple redistribution of wealth, lets face it, the “haves” will always find a way to have, sometimes to the direct detriment of the “have-nots”. But before you get all indignant, tell me, when’s the last time you saw a story about a poor person who won the lottery and immediately shared all the money with his neighbors so that everyone got a little? I’m not judging right or wrong, I’m merely trying to admit to the reality of what we’re dealing with.



Let’s face it, we are a society of ‘star-bellied Sneetches’ from the Dr. Seuss story. Maybe not all of us fall into this category, but certainly enough to keep the system in a constant state of bitter resentment. And just like in the story, the only way to overcome it is to focus on what we have, instead of what we lack.



I must admit, I make a modest living; my family is by no means either rich or poor. As such, when it comes to health care, I’m afforded certain liberties that others might deem a luxury, while still having to navigate obstacles some others might avoid all together. The real issue is that I don’t overlook my blessings and I hold no grudge against those who have what I do not.


I don’t see the level of care that I receive as inadequate simply because someone else can afford better, just like I don’t consider my needs extravagant just because there are some who have less. While it might not be as flashy, my Chrysler still gets me to work just as well as my neighbor’s Mercedes Benz. And while somewhat more time-consuming and less comfortable, taking the bus still gets the job done. The issue isn’t necessarily the transportation, but assuring that everyone has the ability to reach a relatively common destination.



In my opinion, this country already has more than adequate health care, and the areas we need to focus on are not in increasing expenditures, but enhancing the benefits. The answers to those challenges don’t lie in the hands of the government, but in the efforts of the people.

You want shorter lines in the emergency room? Well then, stop using it for ordinary illnesses. You want less expensive treatments? Then stop waging lawsuits when treatments fail but your doctor didn’t. You want cheaper medication? Then be prepared to sacrifice quality for quantity.

We certainly have more than a few deficiencies in our health care system, but I’m looking for a candidate who understands that government influence isn’t one of them.

Read More on Perspective
Volume 4, Issue 5, Posted 9:59 AM, 02.23.2008