Humans hate change. And, Americans REALLY hate it! We fight it with our last aggregate breath. Unless the matter rises to the status of an imminent national emergency that clearly defines catastrophic consequences at costs measured in “boatloads” of money, we tend to stay with the good old status quo.
And, the facts be damned, especially whenever they conflict with countless preconceived notions. By the millions, people make stuff up—in some cases intentionally CHANGING facts—simply to comply with “common sense.”
I began this BLOG, The True Facts, not so much on the notion—as silly as it is—that some facts are true while others are false, but on undeniable proof that many people apparently believe in the existence of false facts. Or, at a minimum, the existence of a lot of smart people that think the rest of us are stupid enough to believe it.
In the world of legitimate science, the term, “fact,” means that we’ve been able to confirm something to such a degree that it amounts to nothing more than pure pigheadedness to withhold conditional assent.
The problem is that there is a direct relationship between people’s insistence on withholding conditional assent and their distance from a personal reality that would dictate otherwise.
While the litany of examples is legion, I’m going to use healthcare reform as a common example.
By our government’s own numbers, about 40,000,000 people do not have health insurance. Between 25% and 30% of them are children. Regardless, about 13% lack health insurance, which means that around 87% have some degree of coverage.
So, for about 87% of the American people, lack of health insurance coverage is personally remote. They know it’s a problem for many people and they want Congress to fix it. But, they want it fixed WITHOUT messing with what THEY have!
By the same token, almost ALL Americans know that we have to do get some immediate control over rapidly rising healthcare costs. But, socialized medicine is NOT the answer.
Every time this issue comes up, the health insurance lobbyists and their cohorts in Congress—most unwittingly, others not so—begin the ever-identical scare tactics involving unfounded accounts of people in socialized countries dying while awaiting life-saving emergency care.
I’ve been to Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and Japan several times. But, I’ve been to Canada more times than all the other places combined. At various points in each of them, either I, or one of my traveling companions, have used the medical facilities.
In every case, the quality of care was excellent and FREE, even though we always offered to pay for it.
Perhaps some people don’t realize it, but Canadian citizens may choose their own physicians and they may visit them any time they wish to do so. And, they pay NOTHING for the privilege.
No more of their citizens die awaiting life-saving emergency care than do ours. And, even though 90% of Canadians live on or near a border, including the one with the United States, there seems to be a distinct absence of Canadians storming our states in search of the privilege of paying $15,000 MRI's.
The tales of woefully huge numbers of sick people dying because of public-sponsored healthcare systems are pure bunk. There is not a shred of credible evidence to support them.
And, even if such evidence did exist, surely a Pulitzer awaits some astute investigative reporter that finds it and reports it. It’s yet to happen because none exists. But here are some healthcare facts that are available for all seeking to find them.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; World Health Organization; Commonwealth Fund, the top five per capita spenders on healthcare are America, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, and Japan.
The United States spends around $7,300 per capita. Canada and Germany come in second at around $3,600 each. Then comes Great Britain's spending of about $3,000.Japan is last, spending about $2,600 on each of its citizens.
Other sources for this information abound, but they’re all within the same ballpark. We spend a little more than twice what Canada and Germany spend, about two and a half times more than Great Britain, and close to three times more than Japan spends.
And, what do we receive in return for this spending spree? We experience about the same number of preventable deaths per 100,000 of population as Great Britain: 110 for the USA and 103 for Great Britain. Germany, Canada, and Japan experience 90, 77, and 71 respectively.
In other words, we spend from twice to three times more for health services that return anywhere from 7% to almost 55% worse results than the rest of the industrialized world.
Now, as I’ve often written, I believe that adequate healthcare is an absolute right based on membership in the human race as opposed to a relative right based on an ability to pay for it.
But, I’m only ONE vote. If the rest of the country believes otherwise, I have but one realistic choice. Stay here and live with it or MOVE. I have no intentions of moving.
However, unlike some others that believe as I do, I don’t blame everything on private insurance interests.
Neither do I believe that eliminating private insurance will solve the problem of rising healthcare costs. The fact is that much of the problem is result of outright fraud, unimaginable waste, stupid decision-making, and systemic corruption.
Congress is also complicit. Most of the complicity is unwitting. Failure to fund adequate oversight capabilities to investigate these things is at the forefront. Medicare is a perfect example.
Outright crooks have stolen billions of dollars and Congress has done little to curb it. Take your pick, manufacturers of wheelchairs to portable oxygen tanks, and every device in-between, are selling this stuff to suppliers that turn around and lease them to beneficiaries for upwards of 5-times their cost.
There is an effective Medical Equipment Lobby that spends multiple millions of dollars lobbying Congress to stymie competitive bidding. In fact, in every area of healthcare service and delivery, lobbies abound to protect every interest but yours and mine.
If Congress would concentrate its efforts on cutting corruption, waste, and fraud by just 50%, we could reduce our per capita annual expenditures by at least 40%.
And, reducing stupidity and insisting on systemic common sense could result in an additional 20% savings. Here’s just one example.
As reported in AARP Bulletin, a 48-year-old woman by the name of Claudia Burrows suffers from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka—Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Slurred speech is endemic to the condition. She needs a device capable of interpreting it and playing it aloud so that others can understand her.
Medicare will gladly pay $8,000 for a device to do precisely this. But it won’t pay a mere $400 for a device that does the same thing, only more efficiently and with a lot more portability: an iPod touch.
The iPod also serves as an e-reader, a note-taker, a music storage device, and an electronic tracker of her medications. The $8,000 device can’t do any of these things and must be mounted onto a wheelchair.
Is this a lack of common sense or the interworking of the Medical Equipment Lobby with unwitting members of Congress? I suspect it’s a combination of both. Even worse, how much more of it romps, CAREFREE, throughout our healthcare system?
Like most of you, I awoke this morning to the joyous proclamation that the House of Representatives, by the slimmest of margins (5-votes) passed an “historic” healthcare reform bill. But, I’m not at all impressed.
Given the depth of my research, I’ve lost all faith in Congress. The fact is that the Democrats have lost all semblance of what they stand for, while the Republicans are, as always, FOR whatever it takes to make fools out of the Democrats.
Significant segments of the Democrats have always shown a major penchant for losing elections or defeat in attempts at passing major legislation rather than acquiesce to compromise, no matter how reasonable.
The Republicans do the opposite. Their prime directive is always the same: beat the Democrats. They rally around the Party, circling the wagons in an all out attempt to win the point.
I’m not convinced that this bill was anything more than the Left’s attempt to pass something (ANYTHING!) just to prevent Barack Obama from looking politically foolish.
By the most conservative of evaluations regarding our national lawmakers, the unintended consequences of their actions exceed the unanticipated benefits by an easy margin of at least one-hundred to one.
And, because of the political urgency of a timely passage of this bill and the knee-jerk reactions by Democrats and many Republicans, there is no reason for optimism for a different outcome this time.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.