His Welfare is My Concern

This is a picture of what it means to have socialized healthcare – Those who are able carry those who are unable.

Everyone, except the one-percenters, know that our healthcare system is broken. It’s not just that a trip to the doctors will run the average American $200-400 out-of-pocket. It’s not just that yearly deductibles have risen from an average of $500 per family to $5,o00 per family. It isn’t just that some have enough disposable income to pay for boob jobs and regular botox treatments, while others can’t afford a colonoscopy, much less the chemo should such a test prove positive.

We all know this.

Yet, we repeatedly vote against changing the system.

We are like the woman who keeps seeing her rapist because the relationship is complicated.

Media, policy wonks and high-paid lobbyists have convinced the public that a universal healthcare system is a failing proposal. They point to Cuba and Venezuela as examples of failed systems, rather than pointing to Germany or The Netherlands or Australia as examples of where universal healthcare is outstanding.

But sure, pretend we don’t have problems.

I spent 2 hours at Urgent care this morning. Two hours of waiting. When I arrived there were only 3 people in the waiting room. I have all the symptoms of the flu – fever, cough, unsettled stomach, head cold, etc. I’ve had these symptoms for 24-hours now. Sleep comes in spurts.

This morning, I decided it was time to be seen, rule out some things.

I waited 40 minutes before someone took me into an office, wrote up my symptoms, gave me a mask (I thought those were only for healthcare workers), and swabbed me for the flu. Yes, I did indeed get the flu shot. I hope you did as well.

After another 20 minutes of waiting I was taken to a room where a healthcare worker wearing a mask told me the flu swab was negative.

So, I ask, are you testing for Covid?

No, she said. We don’t have the test.

Where can I get one?

You can’t, she replied.

My fever was climbing. My blood pressure, normally pretty good especially since I gave up meat, was elevated.

Doctor will be with you soon to explain it.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Then I waited some more.

Then I heard folks talking about who was going to lunch and when.

For two hours I waited and never saw a physician.

If I were paying my hairdresser $300 and she kept me waiting 2 hours, I’d find a new hairdresser.

If I were paying $300 to get a massage and the masseuse kept me waiting 2 hours, I’d leave.

Shoot, most of us get upset if we have to wait 15 minutes in the drive-up for Starbucks and that bill is usually less than $10.

Why are we so willing to tolerate this broken system of healthcare in which we pay the most for the least amount of services?

I don’t put the blame on the healthcare workers. We have three nurses in our family and my mother was a nurse. I worked in hospital settings when I was in high school. I have an deep and abiding appreciation for our healthcare workers – no matter their rank or file.

But we have grown acculturated to a system that does wrong by us. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to quit pretending we don’t believe in universal healthcare – of course we do. Half the people in my circle of friends are either on Tricare, which is socialized medicine for the military and their families, or on Medicare, again socialized medicine. Some of my friends are on both.

We loathe that word “socialized” because we have been taught to loathe that word. If we called “Tricare”  “Socializedcare”  veterans around the nation would be throwing hissy fits.

People say words don’t matter, but they do.

Tricare is socialist healthcare, like it or not.

So is Medicare.

These are systems designed to guarantee affordable healthcare for a wide swath of people. But here’s the thing: People who have Tricare refuse to admit that the system is socialist in any form.

I bet if asked to define socialism, most people couldn’t do it. They would spout off something they heard from Rush Limbaugh (I had someone do just that this week) or from FoxNews.

A very simple explanation is that socialism is an economic and political system in which workers who do the actual work make the decisions about how those monies are spent, as opposed to having a handful of people who don’t actually do the work hoarding all the wealth.

There would be no new tax breaks for the billionaires among us, but every person who needed a colonoscopy or a test for Covid19 would be able to get one, pronto.

I love Wait Wait Don’t Tell me on NPR. Yesterday, the show’s host was speaking with a Canadian, who had just had surgery.

He noted that he had left the hospital without any bill at all.

The host asked if he was bragging about that.

Yes, he said.

I don’t blame him. The only reason anyone thinks that a system of universal healthcare doesn’t work has nothing to do with reality – it has to do with propaganda.

We’ve been conditioned to expect little from our medical care, to be grateful for when it works, and to hock our life’s earnings to make sure it does.


Karen Spears Zacharias is at home after not seeing the doctor, battling a cough, a fever and other symptoms of the flu. She does not have the flu. When Trump tells you anyone who wants to can be tested for Covid19, he’s lying. Don’t get used to such lies. Vote. Vote for someone who believes in an affordable healthcare system for all. Call it what you like, but a system in which those who do the work reap the benefits of that work, rather than funneling up to the richest of the rich is a better system than our broken one.


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

1 Comment

AF Roger

about 4 years ago

Praying for you, sister. And thanks for reaching out to me while you were/are sick. My reply only gave you more to be anxious about. Here's what I wish, I wish, I wish: before another American voter or politician says another single word about health, health care, drug prices or socialism, the whole country needs to shut up and read T.R. Reid's 2009 book The Healing of America. One of the great fictions (I won't call it myth because mythology can be used to convey great, more-than-literal truths) is that "it's all socialized medicine out there." The only significant places on earth of which that can properly be said are the National Health Service in Great Britain and as you correctly point out, Tricare. It's not true of Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan or Taiwan. Yet country after country spends less per capita than we do, includes everybody, has higher life expectancies and generally better outcomes. Further, these systems all by now have extensive track records of costs, benefits and--perhaps more critically important now than ever--how to do the most effective work in ILLNESS PREVENTION. Not only does the USA refuse to learn from all this information and experience, WE REFUSE TO LOOK AT IT! How can we persist in arrogantly calling ourselves the greatest nation on earth when we refuse to be rational and informed? Answer: by being irrational and uninformed. In a ranking done by the Commonwealth Fund which measured "avoidable mortality", France ranked first, the USA 15th. In another ranking of infant mortality, Japan did best. The USA was down at number 22. Pro life people, where are you? Please, people, read the book.


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