5 Myths in the Health Care Debate

Myth #5: Most Americans like their private health insurance and want to keep it.

First off, let’s start with the fact that in 2007 46 million Americans in this country have NO health care whatsoever. Not Medicare, not Medicaid, nothing. So that’s 18% of the population who either cannot afford health care or will not qualify because of preexisting conditions. Then there are the people who’ve been in the hospital for costly procedures who had to battle the insurance companies in order to get treatment. A retired nurse from Texas testified before Congress that when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Blue Cross Blue Shield sent her an email informing her that because of an issue with her with her application(the company had mistaken her dermatologist’s notes on acne as a precancerous condition) her policy was being dropped. This was days before she was supposed to undergo a lifesaving hysterectomy. This practice, known as rescission, is often done by health insurance companies after one of their customers with an individual policy submits a claim for an expensive medical treatment. They dig through a patients records hoping to find anything that will disqualify the patient from receiving often much needed medical care. It saves the insurance company millions in medical claims; approximately 300 million was saved WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc over a 5 year period. The insurance companies claim they are shielding themselves from fraud, however, during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee committee over the practice of rescission, the CEOs from the nations top insurance companies refused to stop using rescission to cancel the policies of patients who did not intentionally deceive insurance companies on their applications. The key word being intentionally. They all responded by saying that the law allowed them terminating policies for even the most minor mistake. A poll conducted by the Harris Poll found that 75% of all Americans (independent, liberal, conservative) are actually for universal health care.

Myth #4: America has the best health care in the world and part of that is because our health care is not run by the government.

Based on the WHO’s World Health Report 2000, the US is ranked 37th in the world for health care . The report is based on five factors: life expectancies, inequalities in health, the responsiveness of the system in providing diagnosis and treatment, inequalities in responsiveness, and how fairly systems are financed. As we all know statistics can made to say almost anything, however, the findings in this report cannot be discounted completely. Maybe we’re not as low as 37 but we’re definitely not #1. France, a country with Universal Health Care, is actually #1. Since it’s inception the United States has been a trend setter of sorts. Other countries copy everything from our pop culture to our policies. If our for profit private health care system is so great, why are we the only industrialized nation on the planet doing it? America has never been perfect but one of our strengths has always been our ability to right social ills from slavery to women’s suffrage. We’re constantly evolving.

Myth#3: Our current system is fine, why change it?

We should question those who say this because they are from three camps: they are severely misinformed, they’re in the pockets of the health insurance industry, or they don’t want President Obama to accomplish anything significant. Currently Americans spend more money on health care than any other nation PERIOD . Switzerland, a country that requires ALL of it’s citizens to have health care, comes in 2nd and we spend 53% more than them. Ask the politicians who are for the status quo but appalled by the current deficit how these contradictory viewpoints. The only people who you will see saying that our current system is fine are those are blessed enough to have and it have never had any fear of losing it. Consider that America is touted as one of the greatest countries in the world and yet 18,000 of our citizens die unnecessarily each year because they have no health care. How can we say that our health care system is not broken?

Insurance companies lining the pockets of those who have the most influence in this debate may sound like conspiracy theory, but consider this: insurance companies spent approximately 100 million lobbying and producing commercials such as the infamous Congress in 1993 fighting the Clinton Health Care Plan; this time around they are spending millions more to fight it. What are they so afraid of? If the insured are so content with their current coverage, why are they so against a public option?

The people who represent us in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, have always tried to make everything political. If President Obama were to be successful where Clinton failed in 1993, it would represent a major accomplishment and some conservatives can’t have that. Republican Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina, famously said “If we’re able to stop Obama on this (health care), it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Why should an issue as important to million of Americans be looked at as an opportunity to “break” the President? As someone who represents the people of South Carolina shouldn’t his primary concern be what is best for them, not strategically outmaneuvering the new Democratic President? Bill Kristol, who played a pivotal role in defeating the Clinton push to reform health care, urged conservatives to “kill” Obama’s plan for health care reform; however, later he was on the Daily Show even though the public health care the troops receive is “the best” average Americans do not deserve this level of care. These objections to health care reform do not seem rooted in principal and reason but in a game of tic and tac played by both parties.

Myth#2: Tort Reform would significantly the cost of health care.

Often times this is the argument made as an alternative to drastically changing our current system. Doctors who fear being sued for malpractice begin practicing defensive medicine, which leads them to order expensive and sometimes unnecessary tests in order to avoid expensive malpractice suits. This inevitably increases the cost of health care. However, in a study done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, defensive medicine accounted for at most 9% of the total cost of health care, and most experts doubt it’s that high. Some estimate it’s as little as 1%. When our country spends 53% more than anyone on health care, Tort Reform would not represent a significant improvement..

Myth#1: If we having allow a public option our country will become a bankrupt and socialist.

Anytime a policy benefits the public by giving them something, it is seen as a hand out that will inevitably destroy this country. The same was said of Social Security when it was introduced by FDR in 1935. Medicare and Medicaid were also called “socialized medicine” when Truman introduced them in 1945. But we enacted all these programs and somehow the United States did not immediately become a socialist country. Today many of the politicians that would’ve probably been against these programs when they were introduced fight to keep them alive.

The point is do not believe everything you hear. Whether it comes from the conservative right or the liberal left. Many people have an agenda and at times it maybe not be concern for the American people (buzz word). You shouldn’t trust Bill O’Reily anymore than you trust Keith Olbermann. Trust the facts.

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