I think -this is obvious, especially during times of illness- people care about their health a lot more than they care about healthcare policy or economics.
Past and current healthcare policy creators know this.
It could have been, but no later than ten years ago (March of 2006) when a sternum saw split my chest open and my heart stopped for me to account for how all life’s affection doesn’t get clouded by the financial costs of health care when faced with illness, pain, an uncertain death.
My personal medical history has lead me to study and experience multiple POV’s related to health care and healthcare (there’s a difference). From individual to communal responsibility, issuer to insurees agreements, doctor to patient relations, to private vs HMO vs government insurance systems, to even ponder about each individual relationship to government influence.
The U.S. hasn’t held a fully privatized healthcare system since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. The U.S. doesn’t control the prices of prescription drugs the way every other developed country does, we spend 50% more on them than what people or governments everywhere else spend.
From historical roots to the overwhelming complexity of legislation set off by lobbied interest the USA’s longest running economic sinkhole continues to be a political struggle.
The political struggle is about money: Healthcare is the USA’s largest industry by far, employing 1/6th of our workforce. Whether paid out of pockets or through taxes and insurance premiums, healthcare is the average U.S. family’s largest single expense.
Healthcare and health care has been my largest expense, financial or otherwise.
The treatment of money is about politics and ideology: We treasure the marketplace: So how much of those market forces do we want to tame when trying to cure the sick? Or should I say when trying to tame or treat the symptoms.
Do we cradle democracy, or the swampland known as Washington? How difficult is it to tame the healthcare industry when there’s healthcare lobbyist spending 4 times more than military defense lobbyist? (Damn you AARP.)
These questions have been on my mind for 8+ years and have lead me to examine materials of all sorts, many dry books, and dryer healthcare rules and regulations.
Looking back, during those hardest days, during those moments of terror, I was anything but a well-informed consumer with lots of options that a robust free market system provides. While terrified and in pain I was simply stark.
There were days in hospital when the non-drug-addled part of my brain wandered, I thought about how I had gotten into this position and about the real and total costs to come.
A nurse or that happy guy with a wheel-around transport bed would entertain me by answering silly and superficial questions I asked. I would accept what they had to offer, on some level I felt like my suffering was part of the healthcare gravy train paying for their homes, their kid’s tuition, or whatever popped into mind.
I guess I felt like, shit – this sucks for me, not for you- I’m owed some distraction or entertainment by my getting to know something about you guys.
I would remember the prior terror; the terror leading to those days in hospitals.
I would replace one terror for another; the other being the fear that comes when you think how a chest has been purposely sawed open and a lung purposely decompressed, only to come out of an operation and while in an intensive recovery room both lungs suddenly give way to two popping sensations; the left then the right half of lungs collapsing.
Now, each breath of air coming in with more and ever saltwater mixed with traces of blood and a sinus sting. The sensation to almost end, but not before a circle of caretakers crowded around me, hearing a steady sound from the heart rate monitor, finally to pass out of consciousness.
When you’re going through something like that, beleive me, the most capitalistic minded person isn’t thinking of prices and policies allowed – indeed, encouraging – runaway costs.
After coming out of consciousness you’re thinking of the amazing things caregiver achieve. Damn healthcare policy or cost containment during such times.
And many politicians and lobbyist know this.
It’s why I don’t understand how we, the non elites, have surrendered ourselves to believe such representatives are inclined to go beyond rhetoric.