05 January 2007

Check out Les Enragés.org

Take a look at Les Enragés, where "Sad But True" encouraged me to post the story of Paul's death. He did a great job of editing and hand-holding for this neophyte blogger.

Paul's story ended up there because it paralleled that of Sad But True's best friend — a Canadian man who is still alive gratis the Canadian single-payer system. As I believe Paul would be as well had he lived in Canada rather than California.

The difference being that Sad But True's friend went straight-away to the hospital, without worrying if it would bankrupt him. The difference being that the Canadian hospital didn't send that guy away, but instead cared for him.

The difference being that the Canadian hospital took immediate action when it was clear that there was something wrong, rather than dithering about getting the guy to a charity hospital.

I discovered the Les Enragés site via Crooks & Liars, which also linked to Bob Geiger's story. Geiger writes about his brain surgery for acute subdural hematoma — a bunch of blood in his brain. His surgery went well, but during his recovery a conversation with a nurse stuck with him.

"'Do people still die from a subdural hematoma?' I asked one of the nurses, while still in my ICU bed. 'Yes,' she replied. 'Just not people like you.' When pressed for what she meant by that statement, she said 'People with good health insurance, who can afford a neurosurgeon from Scarsdale don't die from these as much.'

As Geiger looked into it, he found that "a large number of people do indeed still die from the inability to easily obtain a 20-minute surgery, a procedure that has become a simple, routine operation for all neurosurgeons."

He began thinking about it: "I'm inherently worth no more as a person than any other husband, father and friend and yet, in the case of a medical crisis like mine -- and more recently, South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson's condition -- the ready accessibility of an emergency procedure can be the difference between life and death," he wrote.

"In one of the richest countries in the world, death should not be the penalty for having no health insurance. Yet, 47 million Americans still have no basic coverage and too many of those would die for lack of the same short procedure I so easily received."

I believe that most Americans have those same values — good values that should be easy to make reality, because doing the right thing, in this case, is also doing the cost-effective thing that benefits everyone.

Ah. Except for the people who are making really big money from the status quo.

And their dollars are able to create advertising that scares the bejeezus out of people. Rationing! Waiting lists! Socialized medicine!

But the reality is that it could be that enough people understand that what we have right now is what's scary. Not the change to a single-payer system, think of it as Medicare for All, where you choose your doctor; you and your doctor choose your hospital, should that become necessary; and the government picks up the tab. And it costs less than what we have right now.

The crazy thing is that so many people believe that cutting taxes doesn't result in deficits — despite that happening every time — but those same folks don't believe that expanding Medicare to all could save money. Despite the fact that every other developed country in the world has universal health care and pays less per capita than we do.

Who are we going to believe? Our lying eyes or William McGuire and the insurance industry? Our United Healthcare premiums allowed McGuire, former CEO of United Healthcare, to retire last year with $1.8 billion in back-dated stock options.

Paul becomes nothing more than collateral damage for a guy like this.

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