Medicare Mumbles and the US Class System

People in the US shy away from the socialized medicine practiced in Great Britain and Canada like it’s some kind of regressive poison that deprives people of what they need. Yet there is an important attitude we Americans need to chew on.

 Turning the World Upside Down: The search for world health in the 21st Century, by Nigel Crisp is an insightful read. Crisp, a UK leader in promoting world health, notes that today we may be over-investigated, overmedicated, and overspent. Also, we may end up in the hospital when we don’t need to.

 In the UK, Crisp notes that the National Health Service is designed to offer services to every citizen  equally, regardless of their ability to pay. This says something about the British and Canadians and their ideas about fairness and compassion. It also calls to question the top down hierarchy of treatment available in the US with probably the most top drawer life long care going to our congressional legislators. The public has no vote in legislator health insurance; it can be as inclusive and expensive as legislators choose.

 It doesn’t matter which political party is in. Obama Care’s insurance plan is not unlike Romney’s MA Health Care. Requiring everyone to buy insurance is a mandated, class specific, medicine plan. Neither plan dispenses health care equitably.

 Today, when we visit a health care provider, we are sent home with a sheet of recommendations for medication, and options for further tests. The length of the list has more to do with protecting the provider from lawsuits and raising money to fund expensive technology, than it has for providing quality health care. A good diagnostician can usually ask insightful questions and make necessary observations to identify the cause of problems. Much is based on their ability to “see” and “listen to” patients.

 A frustration among health care providers is the continual requests for more medication based on what their patients have seen on TV ads, and their patient’s reluctance to follow simple suggestions for diet and exercise or other habit changes. Small wonder that with all our services, we’re still reeling in chronic illnesses. The American Cancer Society lists three changes in American Lifestyle that have led to our long list of chronic conditions: we eat more unhealthy foods, we eat bigger portions, and we are less active physically as a country.

 Crisp suggests a new system based on independence and self-determination. He defines health as independence and ability to live lives we value, whatever our condition, with a system that values contributions of lay people as well as professionals, cares for the public sector as well as the private, and underscores the importance of family and community.

 In sum, we have a lot to chew on and think about what we want to swallow when it comes to insuring that we keep each other well.



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