Posted by: turtlebella | 25 June 2007

Universal health care- a right, a necessity

Saturday night the sqvirrel and I went with gigglygirl and recordboy to see a sneak preview of Sicko. I cried for most of the film. There are funny moments but still I cried.

This movie is not actually about those without medical insurance. It’s about people with medical insurance who are screwed over, forced to pay out of pocket for procedures that are deemed ‘experimental’ or ‘unnecessary.’ People go broke, have to move into their daughter’s basement, suffer without the medication they need, go to Canada to get their meds, and sometimes they die because they don’t get the care they need. By any standards it’s hideous and would make a stone cry, watching people break down as they describe how they couldn’t get their health insurance to pay for a kidney transplant or to treat their baby who was on the edge of death.

But then Michael Moore goes to other countries to see what it’s like there… and this part just made me cry more. Because the contrast with the US was so stark. Health care that is free – FREE FREE FREE. What a concept. The film followed a woman on a prenatal visit to a hospital and you saw the state-of-the-art birthing room- beautiful. And Michael Moore asked everyone in the hospital how much care cost at the hospital. Everyone said “What?” – they literally didn’t understand the question – and then they laughed because it’s all totally free, covered by the National Health Service. Doctors in England make more money if they get more people to quit smoking. Preventive health care appears to be a real priority, not just an idea that sounds good but isn’t actually practiced. And health care is totally free in France- not to mention that you can take however many sick days as you need, you get five weeks paid vacation (plus a week the year you are married and you likely get more if you work for a corporation or whatever, five weeks is just what is mandated by the govt), new families can have someone come into their homes a couple of times a week to help the new mom out, there is a service that will make last-minute house calls for emergency medical needs, – all free!!! etc etc etc. Even conservatives in Canada believe in the universal health care they have there, and even Thatcher would not have taken away the universal health care they have in England. Cuba has free health care. Cuba! And the hospital looks quite nice, not like the creepy place you might expect for a poor country.

So, what the hell is wrong with the US? Why are we the richest country in the world and yet so backward when it comes to health care? We appear to buy so wholeheartedly into the myth of rugged individualism where one is responsible for one’s self and no one else and too bad if someone can’t afford to get the health care they need or get denied by their insurance company, it’s not my fault or my responsibility. We so clearly believe that capitalism is so the right system, even for something like health care. The insurance companies are there to make money, not to help people. The doctors that work for insurance companies get bonuses if they deny more claims.

I don’t have any solutions except to say that we need to demand universal health care that is free. And not just universal health insurance coverage (although that is a step in the right direction), because, as is the whole point of the movie, people get regularly screwed by their insurance company. People need to take to the streets, to make our government afraid (they are quite good at this in France, they take to the streets at the smallest provocation- having to work on Pentecostal Monday, for example. I don’t even know when Pentecostal Monday is for god’s sake, much less am I mad that I have to work on that day, but in France- mass protest with 100s if not 1000s of people protest and things CHANGE – what a concept). We appear to be so demoralized and apathetic that we accept things as they are, even though it means people get sicker and sicker and even die because they don’t have insurance or are underinsured or their company is looking to make a few million bucks off of them. We need change. We need it now.


  1. yes. depressing.

  2. […] says that universal health care is a right and a necessity, she even quips that it may be just what the doctor ordered. So, what the hell is wrong with the […]

  3. I don’t even understand why we accept that health care should be run on an insurance model. I mean, if you buy home insurance, chances are generally better than not that you’ll never need it. But health care? Everyone needs health care on a regular basis. Insurance is a stupid way to address that.

  4. […] Universal <b>health</b> care- a right, a necessity […]

  5. […] Universal <b>health</b> care- a right, a necessity […]

  6. “So, what the hell is wrong with the US? Why are we the richest country in the world and yet so backward when it comes to health care?”

    Because it costs MONEY. In the form of TAXES. And we, as Americans, would rather be screwed over by doctors and CEOs of insurance companies than pay taxes to our government.

    Fact of life.

    I remember having a discussion with hubby’s cousin once (he’s an anesthesiologist)about universal health care (back in ’92, when Clinton was campaigning with that as his platform, and hubby and I didn’t have any insurance). He was totally against it. The quality of health care would go down, doctors would have their hands tied by the government, etc.

    I said, yeah, but I don’t have any health care right now, so all of that doesn’t matter. What I WANT is to not to be afraid to go to the doctor because of the cost. Fifteen years later, I still want that. I still mostly tough it out at home when I’m sick (or when my kids are sick) than pay the copay and the deductible to wait two hours at the doctors office to get a prescription that will cost me another $70. It really irks me, though, when preventative care isn’t covered. Or vision. Or dental. Or orthodontia.

    The problem is that rich people (hell, all people) don’t want to pay the taxes to cover the health care for the poor and the struggling.

    Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  7. Yeah, people don’t want to pay taxes in the abstract. I think mostly because republicans tell them they don’t want too… But when I lived in Virginia and the car tax was cut (saving me all of $100) and the DMVs closed part of the week because the state had no money, people were pissed! So…people want services and they’ve got to be paid for somehow. It’s quite the dilemma!

    It’s too bad we didn’t start universal care a long time ago- like when the Brits did after WWII, I think raising the taxes all of the sudden now would not fly. Very depressing…

  8. I hear what you’re saying Melissa, but as the turtle alludes to, people are often willing to pay taxes if they feel they’re getting something valuable in return. One side of our political spectrum has gone to great lengths to convince people that they can have something for nothing– tax cuts without loss of services. The other side, rather than appealing to people’s sense of fairness and understanding of basic economics, has generally hid in a corner and cowered.

    There are lots of polls where people are asked, “would you pay more in taxes if you got X” and people pretty solidly say “yes.” Now of course the richest Republicans will not like it, but there aren’t that many of them…

  9. “Now of course the richest Republicans will not like it, but there aren’t that many of them…”

    Yeah, but there are more than you think. And they’re vocal about having their money taken away from them. I really think the class/money issue here is a real one.

    “One side of our political spectrum has gone to great lengths to convince people that they can have something for nothing– tax cuts without loss of services”

    So true. And the economists say that it’s better to have money in your pocket rather than money in the governement. But, there are also instances where people are willing to give up on the services — there are towns without fire departments and police departments or mail carriers because people don’t want to pay for them — if it means $100 more in their pocket. I see where they’re coming from, too… I want more money in my pocket, too, with the price of gas and groceries and my mortgage eating up most of our paycheck. But, I also would like to know that the doctor’s available to me, whenever I need it, and that I can afford it (since there’s no money leftover anyway!).

    I hope that all made sense.

  10. Ah, that was me — I didn’t check to see what the login was…

  11. Of course, everyone wants more money in their pockets! If only it didn’t come at the cost of not getting good health care…For many people it won’t matter, they stay relatively healthy. But man, oh, man, if you get sick and your insurance decides, nope, that’s too expensive, well, that’s when the cost becomes too high. And that new big screen TV you bought with the money in your pocket just wasn’t worth your health or life.

  12. “And that new big screen TV you bought with the money in your pocket just wasn’t worth your health or life.”

    Ah, that’s something people only realize AFTER the fact. We are such a want-it-now society that hard things (like having accessible and affordable health insurance) are the things that we don’t think of until it’s too late.

  13. Health care cost are driving me to bankruptcy I’m losing my house all because workers comp Insurance will not cover the bills or fix my back! what do I do I’m losing my mined.

  14. I agreed with you

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