As a conservative, I have not always bought into the philosophy that universal health care was a bad thing. I’m very conservative on many issues, but this one I have not always been because for me, one of the fundamental concerns I had was that in this country I want to make sure that people who have no opportunity at all for health insurance will still get good health care.
Specifically children. The argument can always be made that the majority of adults have the same equal opportunity to study, work hard and get a job opportunity that will provide them with the ability to get insurance for whatever medical needs they have. But children are not always so lucky. Due to negligence on the parents part or other issues – whatever they may be – children can be put into a situation where they do not have insurance to cover their needs. And this bothered (or bothers) me because there is no way in this great country that any child should not be provided for medically. Any argument against that seems insensitive to me.
Now, I understand that medical treatment cannot be restricted against anyone. From what I understand, when someone comes into a hospital and is unable to provide insurance, they cannot be shown the front door. At least that’s what I’ve been told. But I think that is only for “emergency treatment”. That’s good, but I have always wondered if it went far enough to provide for those who truly cannot provide for themselves.
But as the years go by and I hear the arguments on both sides, I really am not convinced that universal health care is the answer either. For one, I am not sure if those in favor of it (besides politicians) truly understand that someone has to pay for it. And that someone is the taxpayers. In all honesty, I really don’t see that as the best alternative to mandate that people pay for other people’s health care. Not to mention that just like many social programs we have in this country, something like this is ripe with the possibility of abuse – wherein someone could work the system and get the medical treatment without doing their fair share to contribute to paying for it.
Additionally, I don’t like the idea of putting this into the governments hands. I see how they have handled Social Security. I’ve seen how they have just recently made a mess of the economy by trying to ensure that banks gave loans to home buyers for houses they can’t afford. I’ve seen how they’ve created a stimulus package with money that we don’t have and then gave some of that in bonuses to people that they then turned around and chastised for taking the bonuses. So them being in control of this makes me very uncomfortable.
I’ve also heard the arguments about the universal health care system in other countries. I’ve heard about the long lines. I’ve heard about the fact that some governments begin to “ration” out treatment and so then people who are in need of life saving treatment are denied such treatment because the government deems it unaffordable.
I’ve also heard about the fact that we have some of the best health care around. About people traveling to our country from long distances to get good, quality treatment. So to mess with that is something that I really think we need to reflect on long and hard.
But on the flip side of that, I sometimes wonder if we don’t need to do something to change our system – at least in some respects. While it is good, it is by no means perfect. Our insurance system, pretty much like our tax system in this country – is hard to understand and difficult to determine the best course of action on for some cases. Doctors almost universally tend to prescribe a medication first before doing any real diagnosing of the problems. And some of the pricing of treatment borders on the ridiculous.
I’ll give a couple examples of myself to illustrate my points. I am prone to lipoma’s – which is really a big word for “fatty tissue”. These are little bumps that I have in various parts of my body. Pretty much not an issue unless they show up in a place where they can cause discomfort. A few years back, I had one show up on the left part of my chest. Freaked me out at first because I kept having pain there and being that is where my heart is, I worried I might be having a heart attack (yes, I am a dork at times). So I went in and had it looked at and the surgeon who they sent me too did indicate he could find the lipoma and he set up a day for it to be removed.
That day I went in and interestingly enough, no lipoma could be found. So no surgery occurred. Yet, I was still charged $50 for the office visit! Huh? Why am I being charged for something the doctor himself said was there and scheduled me to come back for? Why is this “my fault”?
Then last year, I started experiencing several problems with my feet that when it got cold where I was in almost unbearable pain. So I went to the doctor and without doing ONE test, he said I have Raynauds Syndrome and tried to prescribe a medication for me. I was hesitant to take the medication and so tried a vitamin regimen that I read about – which also did not work.
At about the same time, I started feeling some numbness in a small part of my left thigh. The doctor thought it may be related to my back and so scheduled me to get an epidural shot. This had no effect. I went back to the doctor and he scheduled me for a second epidural shot – which also had no effect. However, with both those epidurals the doctor who gave them to me also gave me a facet shot as well. Before I saw this doctor, I conferred with my insurance company that they would cover the epidurals. They indicated they would. However, it was not made clear to me that the facet shot was different than the epidural. The doctor told me about them, but as any layperson, I truly did not understand that they would be “different”.
The insurance company classified them as “different” and “unnecessary” and refused to pay. The doctor could have written them off, but he did not do so and so we are stuck with over $600 in medical bills for shots I did not ask for and had no effect on my issue.
So since I still have numbness and I was mad at my general doctor, I went to my wife’s general doctor. The lady seemed to think she knew what it was and sent me to a neurologist. The neurologist ran some tests and could not truly determine what it was and so he gave me – yep, a prescription medication. He thought it might help alleviate – but not solve – my problem.
I tried this for the required time and it had no effect. I called him and told him this and his answer was — for me to keep taking them for another several weeks. I decided to not go down the “let’s try it again” route and thought maybe I should try a chiropractor.
I went to the chiropractor and he tried some things that didn’t help but suggested a doctor who he thought was very good at diagnosing problems. So I went to see her. She took down a large amount of medical information and ran some blood tests on me and it appears I may have something known as Celiac Disease. She feels that it explains the issues I’ve been having with my feet, the numbness with my leg but both of those are just sub-symptoms of the overall issue (I’ve had what they thought was irritable bowel syndrome for years but irritable bowel syndrome is apparently a common misdiagnosis of Celiac Disease).
In order to determine for sure that I have Celiac Disease she wants to send me to a specialist to get a biopsy done. But she also saw something that she wants me to see an epidermiologist about as well. Her recommendation is apparently good enough to send me to the guy who will do the biopsy. But not the epidermiologist…for that, I have to go back to my wife’s general doctor? Considering that every doctor visit is a seperate cost why must I go see one doctor if all they will do is simply send me onto another doctor? Yes, the cost is small because of my insurance (between $15 – $30 based off the type of doctor) but all these visits are coming on top of each other. Not a lot of money but it can definitely add up.
I’m thinking that I may be coming across a little whiny. There are people with way more issues in the medical arena to deal with than I’ve got here. But I’m trying to illustrate some of what I see as flaws in the system. And while I don’t necessarily think Universal Health Care is the right solution, is our current solution really the only good one? If not, is Universal Health Care the only alternative?
I’m writing this for one big reason. I want to hear what others have to say. I know the arguments for and against Universal Health Care so that’s not really what I’m looking for. What I really want to hear is ideas for other alternatives. Are there any? Is Universal Health Care the only alternative we have?
NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 4/29/2009.