When you start talking about universal, single-payer healthcare, it'll take about three minutes before a person opposed to joining the rest of the civilized world's healthcare model, will bring up rationing. It's a scare tactic meant to make you think that you'll die from cancer, infection, heart disease ... before you get to see a GP's assistant about that lump in your breast, lesion on your forearm, persistant headache, fainting spells, shortness of breath, axe in your skull etc ...
If you've researched the issue, then you know what a bunch of nonsense the argument is and you know that we already ration healthcare dramatically in this country. The difference is who benefits from that rationing. Here the exclusive beneficiaries are the insurance companies. If you need proof, then simply carry this NYT story around with you to wave politely in the face of anyone who tells you that for-profit health care is the path we need to stay on. From the article:
CONRAD, Mont. — Mary Rose Derks was a 65-year-old widow in 1990, when she began preparing for the day she could no longer care for herself. Every month, out of her grocery fund, she scrimped together about $100 for an insurance policy that promised to pay eventually for a room in an assisted living home.
On a May afternoon in 2002, after bouts of hypertension and diabetes had hospitalized her dozens of times, Mrs. Derks reluctantly agreed that it was time. She shed a few tears, watched her family pack her favorite blankets and rode to Beehive Homes, five blocks from her daughter’s farm equipment dealership.
At least, Mrs. Derks said at the time, she would not be a financial burden on her family.
But when she filed a claim with her insurer, Conseco, it said she had waited too long. Then it said Beehive Homes was not an approved facility, despite its state license. Eventually, Conseco argued that Mrs. Derks was not sufficiently infirm, despite her early-stage dementia and the 37 pills she takes each day.
After more than four years, Mrs. Derks, now 81, has yet to receive a penny from Conseco, while her family has paid about $70,000. Her daughter has sent Conseco dozens of bulky envelopes and spent hours on the phone. Each time the answer is the same: Denied.
That could be you. We are all one aged parent, one unwelcome diagnosis, one car accident, one sick child away from being a the mercy of companies which would sooner see you and the people you love suffer and die and plummet into financial oblivion while doing it than lose fifty cents from the bottom line.
If you live in PA, you can visit HELPFundPA.org, which is the website of the leading state group pushing for universal single-payer healthcare in PA. I attended a forum hosted by them over the weekend and have plans to write about it this week. In the meantime, see what their website has to say and share that NYT article with everyone you know. Even if only half of what it says is true, it's still a ringing indictment of the sort of country we've become when we happily let profits for the few trump the adequate healthcare and financial security of the many. We are truly a global embarassment.