Health-Care Reform: The Real Question

I was going to write about continuous glucose monitors and the future of the artificial pancreas today, but my plans changed. The U.S. House of Representatives voted recently to repeal Obamacare and move forward with the “American Health Care Act.” This is only a first step, and a final bill will face revisions, but this is a big deal. Personally, I’m devastated. This bill reintroduces a whole host of avenues for insurance companies to once again discriminate against those of us with pre-existing conditions, in the form of higher premiums if our insurance coverage lapses for more than 63 days any reason, and allowing insurance companies to offer very skimpy plans that exclude all the services WE need (thereby forcing us to choose the much higher-priced plans that actually offer the services we need — a kind of “backdoor” way to deny us coverage, since they can claim the higher premium isn’t because we have a pre-existing condition, but because it’s a “luxury plan”).

I agree that Obamacare needed some revamping and adjusting, but I whole-heartedly disagree with this new bill. But I want to take a step back for a minute. Because I think we’ve been having the wrong conversation in this country when it comes to health care, and that’s a bigger problem than any of the specific policy points here. It’s bigger than Obamacare, bigger than the GOP versus the Democrats, bigger than all of it. We continue to harp on the question of “how much will it cost.” That is, by far, the most frequently cited message we have when it comes to health care. It is our starting point from which all decisions are made. And that’s a bad place to start.

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I believe we should start the conversation by asking a very simple, ethical question: “Should we let people suffer, and even die, from treatable and preventable diseases in the richest country this planet has ever seen?” If your answer is “Yes, we should let them suffer and maybe die,” it’s time to stop reading this post. You won’t agree with me, and I will never agree with you. But I have a feeling that the overwhelming majority of us would rightly answer that question with, “No, of course we shouldn’t let that happen.” And frankly, I’m getting sick of the old health-care conversation. To hear health care reduced down to nothing but economic data points is infuriating to me. Those numbers aren’t abstract figures — they represent very real impacts on very real people.

It’s time for this country to make a decision. Do we want to extend life-saving medical help to all of our citizens? Or do we want to let some of our fellow citizens fall through the cracks, suffer needlessly, and die prematurely? We need to answer that very simple question. Because if we can agree that access to health care is a right of citizenship, we can find a way forward. But until we finally join the rest of the industrialized world in recognizing that fundamental right, we will remain a country incapable of creating OR maintaining a coherent, thorough, and long-term solution to our health-care problems. And the most vulnerable among us, a category that most of the people reading this blog fall into, will continue to suffer for it.

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  • Scott

    Let’s see a link to that contention.. or you’ll be tagged [rightfully] that you’re a disgruntled hilda zombie.