Thursday, March 29, 2012


Only an idiot would doubt that the government has the power to require people to buy health insurance. Apparently there are several on the Supreme Court.

The government can draft people into the Army; charge for driving on toll roads and bridges; charge admission for public parks; tap phones; seize computers; freeze bank accounts; imprison, torture, and assassinate people; require people to wear seatbelts, helmets, life jackets, steel-toed shoes, hearing protection, safety glasses, and electronic monitoring devices; force people to take medications; prohibit them from growing certain plants; require people to take blood and breath tests; make people neuter their dogs and cats; require people to file tax returns and retain records; cross the street only at corners; answer questions; take tests; remove their shoes; and, well, just about anything it wants.

So why all the fuss about requiring people to have health insurance? There are two answers. The first answer is that the doctors, hospitals, drug companies, insurers, and others who make a fortune from the present system don't want to get off the gravy train. They recognize that Obama's plan is intended as a step in the direction of public health care like the rest of the world has, and they know that the rest of the world gets better care than we do for far less money. By stopping the Obama plan, they hope to delay the inevitable change to a system that will deliver care more efficiently, because that efficiency will be at their expense.

The second answer is that in their eagerness to thwart Obama, some people who aren't making money off the present inefficient system have been easily influenced by the millions of dollars that the doctors, insurers, etc. have been spending to mislead them into thinking that a healthier country is bad for everyone.

One of the fundamental principles of our present health care system is the idea that doctors know best what is good for patients. We are told not to take over-the-counter medicines without first asking our doctors if it is OK, even though in many cases, the pharmacist could give us better answers than our doctors can. We are told not to exercise without checking with our doctors, even though every doctor encourages patients to exercise. Doctors are national father figures, and we are expected to obey them.

Doctors know a few things about practicing medicine, but they know almost nothing about insurance. Doctors don't even know what an X-Ray, colonoscopy, MRI, blood test, medicine, or most other things that they prescribe costs their patients, let alone how much your insurance company will pay. Doctors know virtually nothing about what patients go through in dealing with their insurers, or what their patients' insurance premiums cost them. But when doctors and the rest of the medical establishment tell people that public access to affordable health care would be bad, it is hard for a lot of people to accept that the advice they are getting is intended to protect the privileged and wealthy medical establishment rather than to help their patients.

Eventually America will get public health care. We can't afford not to. We will love it and wonder what took us so long. The rest of the world has trouble figuring out what we are waiting for. They have shown us that public health care works better than what we have. Could we really be so stupid, or so stubborn? Don't ask our Supreme Court. They're still trying to decide which feet to put their right shoes on.

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