A few years back, I watched Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”. After watching this film, I felt I had been lied to. Not by Moore, but by our politicians. The biggest lie is that America has the best healthcare system in the world. It is far from that.
For example, in France, if you call emergency services or our 9-1-1, the call is answered by a Medical Doctor, not a trained call center employee. The doctor assesses the situation, and determines if the situation requires an ambulance. If it does, the ambulance goes to the patient’s home. The ambulance staff is not comprised of paramedics whose job is to keep the patient alive long enough to get them to the hospital, but rather a mobile emergency team comprised of a doctor and medical technicians and nurses. The ambulance doesn’t take the patient to the nearest hospital, but to the one that is best fit to treat their illness. Their healthcare is completely government run and yet they have much higher health outcomes than here in the US.
So why all the lies from our politicians?
On PBS this weekend, Wendell Potter a former PR executive was on Bill Moyers Journal. He talked about how health insurance companies lobbied against health care reform in the 90’s and how he was paid by Cigna to discredit Michael Moore’s “Sicko”. Mr. Potter said that Moore had actually “hit the nail on the head” and it scared Cigna to death. It was Potter’s job to tell the story that government run health care is akin to socialism and puts a “bureaucrat between you and your doctor.” Sound familiar? But as Moyers explained, the current system is putting a CEO between you and your doctor. I encourage you to watch the interview with Wendell Potter.
The thing that pisses me off the most about the whole thing is that insurance companies have the politicians in their pockets. By watching the interview, it made it crystal clear to me that the healthcare system won’t be reformed in any meaningful way. The reason is that lobbyists are so damn influential because the big corporations hire people who formerly worked for or with the members of Congress to lobby congress. They are given an opportunity to plead their case, where the American people don’t get that same opportunity. Right now, the insurance corporations want nothing more than to strip the public option from the current debate (because the government can offer it cheaper). Instead, they want the government to require all Americans to be insured.
Once we are all required by law to have health insurance, then we are at the mercy of big corporations whose primary concern is not the health of its customers, but in the size of their profits and bonus checks. I’d rather take my chances with the government.