Health care in the U.S., as a system, is broken. Does this mean that you or I can no longer get coverage? No. This means that the system as a whole, costs too much with relation to the services that it provides. The price is high beyond justification.
Paul Krugman has written many articles on this topic. One of the latest makes a bogeyman out of health savings accounts, as created in 2003 by the Bush Administration:
"In practice, the health savings accounts created by the 2003 Medicare law will serve primarily as tax shelters for the wealthy. But let's put justified cynicism about Bush administration policies aside: is giving individuals responsibility for their own health spending really the answer to rising costs? No."
Personally, I'm on the fence about this. I would like for my naturopath to be my primary care physician, but my health plan does not allow this. Perhaps a personal health savings account would allow me to pay for my naturopathic visits using my pre-tax health care benefit, rather than having to pay for most of it out of pocket. If I'm misunderstanding the nature of this benefit or how I might be able to use it, I'd like to know.
In another article, Krugman writes:
"Several readers have asked me a good question: we rely on free markets to deliver most goods and services, so why shouldn't we do the same thing for health care? Some correspondents were belligerent, others honestly curious. Either way, they deserve an answer."
This is the one to read for a really good argument for nationalizing our national health care system. Incidentally, Oregon's former governor John Kitzhaber, a former medical-room physician from Roseburg, OR, has presented a plan for Oregon as a state to do exactly that. He's calling it the Archimedes Movement:
...and he's posted a manifesto there, one that does a good job, over 10 pages, of outlining the problem with the U.S. health care system, and intimating what the shape of the ultimate solution might look like. In case you fear that this might be dry reading, here's a quote from near the end:
"Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve today’s problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” That is true. But I think that Edward Abbey -- the late Western novelist -- put it more succinctly, if not as eloquently when he said: “Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up you get a lot of scum on the top.”
The manifesto, entitled Road to Revolution, is at: http://archimedesmovement.org/documents/Road_to_Revolution.pdf
So, let me close this blog post by quoting directly from Kitzhaber's manifesto, in fact, his closing statement:
Let me close with the words of Oregon poet Kim Stafford who eloquently defines the
challenge, the opportunity – and, indeed, the responsibility -- that lies before us in what he calls “Lloyd’s Story.” Lloyd Reynolds, the international citizen of Portland, spent his last days in pain, silent, unable to speak or to write, lying in his hospital bed. On his last day at home, as his wife scurried to pack his suitcase for the hospital, Lloyd made his way outside to the garden and there she found him on his knees, with a spoon, awkwardly planting flower bulbs. “Lloyd,” she said, “you will never see these flowers bloom.”
He smiled at her. “They are not for me,” he said, “they are for you. The salmon
coming home? They are for you. The calls of the wild geese? They are for you. The
last old trees? They are for you and your children, to the seventh generation and
beyond. They are all blooming into being for you.”
That is our challenge today. To plant the seeds of tomorrow; to change the world by
acting, by leading, by personally reengaging in this struggle -- not as victims of the status quo, but as architects of a new future.