Health Quote Debate Unquote

August 12, 2009

So, our beloved neighbours to the south appear to having some sort of “debate” about heath care reform, in which they use the word “debate” in a way that is unfamiliar to me. As far as I can tell, the two sides consist of:

  1. people who think that all Americans should have a reasonable level of publicly funded health care, and
  2. a shrieking legion of exorbitant liars, paranoid, ignorant right-wing bigots and a small army of well-funded insurance-industry carrion vultures

… and they are not exactly engaged in what you might call a measured discussion of the technical details of various policy options. Feel free to act surprised.
There is never, I think, a bad time to re-read the D-Squared Digest One-Minute MBA, one of the great blog posts of all time, in this instance with an emphasis on the first third of the course. But permit me to embellish that link with my own views on the subject; herewith, my American friends, is a short list of some of the things I never have to do or even think about much here in our cold, grey socialist hellhole of Canuckistanislavia.

  • I am never afraid of what it means if the headache won’t go away.
  • I never worry about whether or not something is covered, ever.
  • I have never had to lie to a doctor because an unrelated preexisting condition might mean voiding my insurance and its coverage of my current problem.
  • I am never stuck in a job I hate because of the fear losing my health coverage.
  • I never have to fight with insurance companies about how much of whatever treatment they’ll pay.
  • It never even occurs to me to wonder how we’ll make ends meet if my wife or I get sick.
  • I am never afraid of losing my home or business because of medical bills.

There are literally hundreds of other things I don’t do, with regards to my health care, but the most important thing I never do is this:

  • I do not live in fear.

My daughter’s birth was far, far more exciting than it needed to be. For a couple of hours there I thought I was coming home alone. But after three days in intensive care for both of them, in which a team of absolutely first-rate professional medical staff used the finest, most modern tools and techniques at their disposal, I got to go back to a home I could still afford with a recovering wife and child. The paperwork I received a few weeks later included information on how to apply for a birth certificate, some other government paperwork, and a bill for the private room we chose so that I could stay with them instead of having to go home at night.
I think it cost me $80. That and parking.
I pay a lot more than that, of course, year over year in taxes. And while I quibble (as all responsible citizens should!) about the details of how my taxes get used, let me tell you: single-payer, socialized medicine is absolutely fucking fantastic. Not being terrified of the bill coming due for that nightmare at all, being able to give my wife and child 100% of my attention when they need it most, it is gold.
As far as I’m concerned not having reliable, government-supported medical care is precisely the same as not having clean running water or electricity. It’s a sign that you’re far, far outside the bounds of civilization, in some godforsaken backwater where people live with their necks under the jackboot of random chance, where the barbarians are winning.