Health Care Conservatives Blame Victims for Playing Victims

Often, conservatives (the right) oppose   universal health care  and instead, favor a privately-run health care system, presumably because they wish to share no more of their wealth than absolutely necessary, to assist in maintaining the health of others who they feel do not deserve it.  One reason they cite for this is that those in need of health care, but who cannot afford to pay for it, often play the victim, and exaggerate the severity of their illneses (and even make up illnesses in some cases), thereby obtaining more costly health care services than they actually need.  Many republicans appear to assume that most people in need would not have such a need if they better managed their own money and did not rely on public funds to foot the bill for their care.  However, my response to one fellow who steadfastly holds to this view was as follows:

It’s odd that you’d accuse someone you do not even know of playing the victim without any awareness of their individual situations. That’s a cop-out position that sorely lacks any compassion whatsoever.

It’s also strange that so many Americans assume that the other guy is out to get whatever they can, by default. But in reality, many are simply looking to make ends meet; not become rich by milking the health care system. Accepting responsibility does not (should not) mean starving, or having to choose between paying grocery bills or medical bills. That whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps mantra has little more value, than that so many people believe it without understanding (or even caring) what it’s negative consequences are.  They routinely fail to consider the fates of those left without health care by free-market health care policies.

Perhaps you’ll never experience the sorts of hardships that justify universal health care. But if one day, you should, I sincerely hope that your own words aren’t said back to you condescendingly, about taking responsibility and taking care of yourself.

But then again, it might be just a little bit fun to see you eat some crow; just a little bit. In fact, these changes of heart happens time and time again. People who, when healthy, blame the victims for their troubles, suddenly sing a different tune when their own fate guides them into serious illness.

Interview some of those millions without health care today; a situation typical in a privately-run health care system. Read their posts on blog sites. Hear their interviews on television, and if your eyes and ears are wide open, what you’ll find overwhelmingly is that the uncovred simply cannot afford to be covered, and pay nearly $200 per month per family member, for medical insurance. I’ve seen this far too often to deny its truth.

I do not know absolutely which of either privately or publicly funded health care would produce the better outcome.  But I know which one seems to make more moral and practical sense.  In the private case, roughly a third of the population can afford only mediocre health care,  This is basically what we had prior to the passing of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010.  Some folks have more money in their pockets as a result of the privately-governed system where medical insurance companies are the agents of funds redistribution.  But many others suffer in sickness with barely two pennies to rub together.  They die earlier than they would have, had they received cradle-to-grave preventative health care.

In the publicly-funded health care case, basic health and wellness services are provided either free of charge or for a modest fee.  All citizens have somewhat less free money as a result of the necessary subsidization of the system by all. However, evidence suggests that some form of universal health care works better to keep people healthier and more resources available for other pursuits, than one where people are left on their own.

People will need to give up a little of their wealth so that the rest can afford preventative health care, and avoid those much costlier expenses down the road of many emergency room visits by those who cannot afford to see a doctor regularly.  But if conservatives continue blaming the victims for playing the victim, we’ll never realize the true cost-saving potentials of universal health care.  Blaming the victim for playing the victim is just one of the many devices that opponents of universal health care employ to basically say, “You’re not worthy of coverage if you can’t afford to pay.”

The privately-run health care the past few generations has known so well, really hasn’t worked well for a long time.  So what makes you think that it will work if continued?  Attempts to tweak the free-market system have been made for thirty-plus years now without significant success (health co-ops, PPOs and HMOs, wellness incentives by insurance companies, and so on). Despite these programs, medical costs continue their rapid incline; outpacing inflation every year by several times. So, this steadfast faith in the free-market health care system would seem to be misplaced.

The plight of the uninsured is easy to see. As I said, look at the Internet and other media sources. Talk to people without insurance; particularly those that are suffering a costly illness. True.  Not everyone suffers the same medical neglect from free-market health care. But there are enough who have, over decades, to form some reasonable impressions.

So, based on this available evidence, I seriously doubt that you’ll find as many ill people who wish to pay for their own coverage (or who could even afford it in the first place), once those large co-pay bills arrive in the mail. The government is not perfect, yes. But it accomplishes far more good than not with its bureaucracies.  The sad truth is that privately-run health care works great, as long as one is healthy and does not really need it.  It’s many problems do not surface unfortunately until one really does need their privately-operated insurance carrier to come through for them.

It’s not that the chronically uninsured wish to avoid paying for their care. It’s that they CANNOT afford to pay.  Why?  Because all but the most trivial of medical procedures is beyond a working class-man’s budget.

Yet conservatives seem to believe that most people with families and making a net household income in the middle down to lower class levels, should be well-able to afford the insurance and co-payments for a procedure (such as open-heart or cancer-treatment operations) that can run into many thousands of dollars.  And this doesn’t even count afterwards rehabilitation afterwards. That’s almost laughable.  Really.  Their rationale escapes me on this point.

There’s plenty of room for the individual to thrive and profit in America. But historically, too much emphasis on the individual in health care funding leaves perhaps a third of the country without health care insurance coverage at all.  Our overly zealous concern for preserving the rights of the individual, has left nearly one third of our individuals medically destitute; unable to afford health and wellness services.  So perhaps we need to care a little more about the rights of all of us in our American collective, and adopt a practical universal health care plan; one immune from the profit-motives of typical private-sector business.

Tom Hesley

 

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