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Guerrilla Reporting

Jurate Gattini, Healthcare in America should be Universal like in the rest of the World. Period.

This article was born on the streets of the New York City. It was published under the category “Guerrilla Reporting” as it represents the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of regular people who sometimes know what’s best!

Photo by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rod_of_asclepius.png

 Let me start with a simple question: What is the most important thing in life that you must have before anything else?

Let me answer this question for you – GOOD HEALTH.

Having a lot of money, love, career, house or a car would be irrelevant without it….  

I was visiting my friend who was recovering after a serious (but not a life threatening) operation in a respectable hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. As we got to talking about the whole experience, the first words that came out of her mouth were,  “I am so lucky that I have a health insurance!”

She showed me the copy of the bill that her health insurance company received for her treatment in the hospital.

“I was in shock when I saw this” she said as she handed it to me.

“They are asking for $24,000.00 for the work of the surgeon that did the operation. Yes, he worked at least 4.5 hours, I understand, he probably deserves it…, but look at this – $140,000.00 for less than 24 hour service at the hospital! It is true that they gave me a bed, bed sheets, food (3 times). They measured my blood pressure, body temperature, but nothing else…. really” . The bed was not made of gold, neither the bed sheets”….

She looked almost hurt that this place she had come for help was treating her like a bank.

When I asked the NYC healthcare system professional about this situation, he replied, “The hospitals are usually asking for hundreds of thousands, but it doesn’t mean that they can get all this money – they just want to get as much as possible – they will probably get few thousand…. It is a business – those who manage to “squeeze”  more money from the situation, make a bigger profit, they win”.

Teeth, for example, and eyes are not really part of your body (according to Healthcare system in America and probably in most countries of the world). You need separate insurance for that.

Very low income people have dental and vision insurance (provided for free, paid by taxpayers), but most middle class Americans don’t.

For most middle class Americans, going to the dentist is as big a decision as buying a new car. If you have just one or two teeth to fix, it is an equivalent of buying a used car. If your teeth need a lot of work, be prepared to pay the price of a Mercedes Benz.

These are only few examples how healthcare works in America, but there are hundreds and thousands of similar cases  like these happening every day.  Is it how we want it to be?

Here I decided to ask regular Americans what they think about it. My job was quite simple:

Almost everybody I asked (democrat or republican) gave me the same answer:  “Healthcare in America should be universal like in the rest of the world. Period”. 

What is Universal Healthcare System?

Wikipedia, online encyclopedia, describes Universal Healthcare system as “an organized healthcare system that provides healthcare benefits to all persons in a specified region,…. meaning that all residents are covered for basic healthcare services”.

Who Pays for Universal Healthcare?

Universal Healthcare  is obviously not free. Hospitals have to be maintained, doctors and other medical personnel have to be paid, medicine has to be provided, medical research has to be covered… Most of the universal healthcare expenses are paid by the taxpayers.

There are over 50  countries in the world that have universal health care including Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The governments of these countries have at least 3 things in common:

1) They recognize the vital importance for their citizens not to worry about getting sick, (and paying healthcare expenses);

2) They are capable of organizing healthcare system, managing healthcare benefits and using taxpayers’ money appropriately. They might not be perfect, but people at least have some guarantees and peace of mind;

3) The purpose of Universal Healthcare, in the countries mentioned above, with a few exceptions is, HEALTHCARE IS NOT A FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS.

IS UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE POSSIBLE IN AMERICA?

While researching this topic trying to make sense of the US healthcare system, I came across an excellent article in the US News, written by By Timothy Callaghan –  “3 Reasons the U.S. Doesn’t Have Universal Health Coverage”.

The 1st reason why the U.S. Doesn’t Have Universal Health Coverage, identified by the author, was a total surprise to me: ” No. 1: We Don’t Want It:

Americans, and conservatives in particular”, suggested the author, “have a strong belief in classical liberalism and the idea that the government should play a limited role in society”. 

I “read” it in my own way: Americans don’t trust government to run their lives, especially healthcare. I understand. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want Universal Healthcare.

I believe there is a solution in this situation: Could America use the Swiss healthcare system or at least part of it as a model? It is  “not tax based or financed by employers but is paid for by the individual through contributions into health insurance schemes. The system is universal but it is administered by individual cantons”.

The Second and the Third reasons, identified by the author made a lot of sense: “No. 2: Interest Groups Don’t Want It”, “No. 3: Entitlement Programs Are Hard in General to Enact”:

“The legislative battle over the content of the ACA (Obamacare), for example, generated $1.2 billion in lobbying in 2009 alone”… “The insurance industry was a key player in this process, spending over $100 million to help shape the ACA and keep private insurers, as opposed to the government, as the key cog in American health care”.

In other words, a lot of powerful businesses stand to lose billions in a society where there is Universal Health Care.

You can read this article here:

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2016-10-26/3-reasons-the-us-doesnt-have-universal-health-coverage).

I took to the streets of New York and started asking passers-by who would talk to me what they thought, and here is some of what I ended up with..

OBSERVATIONS, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM AS ENVISIONED BY “The Average New Yorker “ (summarized):

Hard working Americans pay taxes 24 hours a day – when they wake up in the morning, when they go to work, when they go to bed … and while they sleep ….

Every American rightfully believes that he/ or she is entitled to the most important thing in life – good health that is supported by affordable high quality healthcare. Every American is entitled to not to worry about how to pay for the health insurance when they become sick!

Affordable High Quality Healthcare  is their right that they earned by paying taxes 24 hours a day and by simply being an American! Period.

It is just a matter of time- Americans will have Universal Health care sooner or later – it is inevitable – the way it happened in the rest of the civilized world. Universal Healthcare is a necessity that cannot (and should not) be denied by any government of the world. 

Let’s start from the beginning…. Few points for consideration:

There is no need to blame former U.S. Pres. Obama for the failed healthcare in the most powerful country of the world:

TODAY Healthcare system in America is based ON GREED THAT HAS NO LIMITS OR BOUNDARIES. Period.

It is not any president’s fault. Former US Pres. Obama (a dreamer and a gentleman) attempted to do something in a desperate situation. So called Obamacare was the best version of healthcare that could be achieved as a result of negotiations in the environment of that time. Everybody involved in the trillion dollar “healthcare” business has much at stake:  This includes healthcare providers and “beneficiaries” / “dependents” on those profits – Politicians of both parties (in the form of generous contributions to their election campaigns), lawyers, insurance, advertising and most of all -pharmaceutical companies.

Today, almost every channel on TV broadcasts at least 10-12 prescription drugs’ ads an hour, bombarding American public with information that should be known only to the doctors, not the patients, the information that if misused, could be harmful to people’s health. Those ads pay the salaries of the networks, ad-buyers, reporters, share holders and so on.

Have you ever heard media criticizing big Pharma?

Very rarely…

Advertising dollars are keeping their lights on.  As we have said, the healthcare system in America today – like everything it touches – is mostly driven by profits, not driven by caring for the sick and dying.

Having said that it is important to acknowledge that in many cases those drugs that are advertised on TV could save lives. And their value (if presented and priced adequately) should not be underestimated. Many good and talented people work in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry.

Back to Obamacare…. It worked for a few people, but it was terrible for most Americans. It was simply too expensive. The worst part of it – everybody was obligated to have it (even though most people couldn’t afford it). Something that doesn’t sit well with even left-leaning Americans is the government “making” you do something. If it’s wearing your seatbelt, or immunizing school children.  Thousands of Americans chose to pay penalties instead of being insured by Obamacare. However, It was an honest attempt to improve healthcare in a far-from-ideal-world.

THE PERSPECTIVES FOR HEALTHCARE REFORM IN THE “REALITY SHOW” OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Pres. Trump knows that American public likes live TV and drama. He always exaggerates things and makes them dramatic. Instead of calling simply “Healthcare reform in America”, he called it ” Repeal and Replace Obamacare”. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pres. Trump doesn’t have any objections to  Universal Healthcare in America (prove me wrong: he probably doesn’t really care as long as most people are OK with it):

On May 5th, after his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Pres. Trump tweeted:

“Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great”.  

 “Thank you Mr. Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go. I’ll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate,”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted in response.

On another occasion, Pres. Trump said that “Big Pharma can get away with murder.” 

He knows that it is not easy to make any changes – too much money involved in the situation. He will probably do what he does – negotiate a deal that makes everyone some money.

The stakes are too high, Mr. President.

The reps of the US Congress and Senate are “sitting” in the pockets of Big Pharma and Health Insurance companies…. No, they don’t bribe the government, they just “make significant contributions” to their election campaigns. In other words, big pharma gives them jobs and feeds their families in exchange of support of their draconian profits. Our senators and congress men and women will never be able to say no to such dealings.

Healthcare system in America has a totally wrong goal: it is not interested in health. Period.

It is driven by profits: It is chilling to think that the goal is to get more people sick and keep them sick, on medication, in hospital beds in order to get more money.

Questions to be asked

Considering any change in healthcare system in America the following questions should be taken under consideration:

  1. What is the cost and profit of Insurance companies?

2. What is the cost and profit of Pharmaceutical companies? How much exactly the same medicine costs in other countries of the world? How those costs can be be reduced?

3. How much money from the Insurance companies, Pharmaceutical companies and other companies related to healthcare are received as contributions by the representatives of the US Congress, Senate, local authorities during election campaigns?

4. How much money is made by Insurance lawyers?

5. US media are generously paid by Pharmaceutical companies for the TV ads for prescription drugs on TV that do not belong on TV, “brainwashing” people to get drugs that might even kill them. An average TV channel in the US has at least 10-12 prescription drugs’ commercials per hour (I tried to count them – some of the TV channels have even more);

6. How much money is spent by pharmaceutical companies to pay off doctors to prescribe their drugs? (tickets to the theater and similar “promotions”)?

I wonder if the rest of the world has a clue how much it costs to have a health insurance in America. Let me enlighten you: it is totally free for poor people and at least 1/4 (up to 1/2 of the salary (for the middle class). I guess, the rich Americans can afford it…

Almost 1/3 of the health insurance bill is for prescription drugs (you are obligated to have the prescription drugs coverage even if you don’t want it – it is a law). In addition, there are co-payments and other “tricks”…

Some examples:

JBG (single) pays $875 per month for private health insurance (it doesn’t include vision and dental coverage); If she had Obamacare, her cost would have been about $387 per month.

A.S, paralegal – works in the law office (married, no dependents) – Pays about $1,000 a month for 2 people – her husband and herself (the total cost is $2000, but half of it is covered by her employer). She uses Private Health Insurance as her husband is seriously ill. In addition, she pays about $860 for prescription medications a month (that is not covered by prescription portion of her health insurance).

J.C. (unemployed, married, with 2 dependents) has Obamacare and pays $287 a month for 4 people.

G.P. (young technical worker, still pays college debts) pays $359 a month (in addition to his college debt – $275 a month) to Obamacare – voted for Pres. Trump to get rid of his Obamacare obligation;

D.M. (married with one child) – has Obamacare and pays $1,200 a month for three people (if he had private insurance, it would be about $2,000 a month.

More Ideas for Healthcare Coverage Reform

( 1) New Health care should not be driven by profits;

2) New Healthcare should encourage doctors to help people to get healthy instead of them being dependent on medications;

3) Healthcare should be about body and soul, not only about body only – regular doctors should work together with the alternative medicine practitioners;

4) New US administration should carefully examine health systems of all countries of the world – some of them are working perfectly- and adopt the best practices that are available;

5) Stop completely commercials on TV (and everywhere else) of the prescription medications.  Only doctors should be allowed to know what to prescribe to patients instead of “brainwashed” patients asking doctors to prescribe medications that “look good” and “sound good” in TV commercials.

6) Food sold in the supermarkets has to change – organic, non-GMO foods should be sold;

7) There are medical inventions in America (and abroad) that eliminate most of diseases that appear because of harmful bacteria and viruses without medications, using scalar energy, for example, and similar – more research should be done about them. (email me for more information if you are open to alternative solutions that are available or if you have nothing to lose – if you are HIV or Hepatitis C positive, for example);

8) No healthcare system should be forced on people. Many many more ideas are available if there was a desire to find and use them;

9) Doctors should be visiting sick people instead of sick people crawling to the doctor’s office.

10) Prescription drugs should not be forced on people as part of the insurance.

11) The most important idea – in order to change something, we have to change human consciousness, in other words, how people think. We are acting according to the programs that are already installed in our minds. Proper education is the key to the progress.

Positive and realistic steps taken (and ideas presented) by President Trump so far in order to improve healthcare system in America:

•Open the borders of healthcare market in the US – people will not be obligated to have health insurance in their state only – it will lower the cost automatically;

•Get rid off obligation to have insurance (until it becomes affordable and universal)

The new Healthcare bill will be presented by Republicans in a few days. I don’t believe in magic in this case. Let’s see what happens.

P.S. The main goal of this article is to make you think. It is not a scientific research paper and it doesn’t represent know-it-all on the subject matter… It is a sincere  attempt to make sense of healthcare system in America as it is today with a few suggestions for the healthcare reform. If you have any ideas on this topic, please join our “Change the World in a Practical Way Project” (you will find it on the right side of the screen).

Related article by Andrew Lewis,  “You can Die From It but Take it Anyway”

 

 

 Photo of NYC Times Square by Jurate Gattini

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Posted by Enlightenment Media News on 2017 m. rugpjūtis 9 d.