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.
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.