I have basically been an occasional observer at best about the current health care debates in the U.S., focused more on finishing my dissertation at this point, and more-or-less content to just see whatever Congress comes up with, willing to try it, and then make my judgments. But I have long had reservations about the way that the Republican Party's advertising – going back long before this particular episode of America's ongoing health care debate – has made noise about poor services in more nationally socialized medical programs like those in Canada and the U.K. I note this, specifically, as the advertisements play a report of someone who had an utterly dehumanizing experience in such a health care system, and repeat lines about "faceless bureaucrats" picking our healthcare options for us, as though these faceless government bureaucrats are qualitatively different than the faceless insurance company bureaucrats I now deal with.
Beyond the scare tactics designed to panic the masses (and make no mistake: I know perfectly well that the Democratic Party engages in the same kind of nonsense when they are protecting their own evil plots), I also have to say just how strongly these awful reports clash with every actual human being that I've ever talked with who live in such health care systems. When I was interviewing in Canada this past year, the Americans on the faculty to had been living there for some time positively raved about the quality of the health care, virtually sounding like I should get sick just so I can experience how good the system is. Along those lines, I was quite intrigued (and grateful; Thanks, J!) when nimoloth included this link to an American mother who blogged about the comparative positive and negative experiences she had of both the U.S. and U.K. health care systems. I hadn't read anything that thoughtful and un-alarmist in all of this sound and fury, and it was a welcome change from the soundbites I get from Congressional leaders in the newspapers or elsewhere. The simple declaration of access to medical care being a human right is putting the finger on the actual point, it seems to me, one our nation would do well to endorse.
I was particularly struck by the simple observation of it being comparatively crazy that people in the United State do not seek medical attention for fear of the cost. That's so true of my life that I never really thought about it as anything but a "given" in my life. My friend Amy was after me throughout the later end of the spring to go to the doctor for the persistent lung infection that had been weighing me down from Christmas to the end of April, and very much interfered with my work in that time, but it was a comparative no-brainer for me that it was better for me to try to "sweat it out" than deal with a medical expense that I couldn't afford. It's a brilliant business system: I pay insurance premiums that I cannot afford, which so alarm me in their cost that I then avoid using the insurance because I cannot afford the additional debt, even after the insurance picks up a percentage of the cost. It's utterly insane on my part, and yet a perfectly logical reaction given the insanity of the trap so many of us find ourselves in.