Dispelling the Health Care Rumors

I’ve seen a lot of arguments on both sides of the health care debate in the past few months. A lot of smart things have been said, and a lot of flat-out untruths have been spread. I’m here to take on the ones that bother me the most.

1) The government is just intruding on your freedom

The Truth: The mayor of East Podunk, Kentucky could sneeze and someone out there would see it as a governmental invasion of your freedom. The fact is, the government isn’t forcing you to buy health care any more than they’re forcing you to buy auto insurance if you own and drive a car, but you will pay a tax if you don’t have health care come 2014. Right now the majority of Americans have health care through their job, so if you’re reading this odds are you fall in that category. If you’re not one of those people, don’t have health insurance, and don’t want health insurance then you’re a liability on us all: if you get sick or injured to the point where you have to go to the ER, you’re a burden on everyone’s taxes, including your own.

2) This is just one more step toward socialism!

The Truth: The average person who says that has no clue what socialism really is. The US has, and has had for many years, socialist systems in place: Unemployment, social security, police forces, fire departments, and even the military. The military is like a little socialist bubble society within American society. Beyond that we already have socialist systems in place, you’re going to pay a tax if you’re not already receiving health care from your capitalistic job so that if you should be injured or get sick to the point of needing emergency medical services you won’t be an undue burden on the government. Gee, that tax kind of sounds like … insurance, doesn’t it?

3) This is government takeover of health care.

The Truth: No. Private insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals will still exist as private, for-profit businesses. The government is already in the health care business from Medicare and Medicaid, programs which millions of people are very happy with. Here’s two typical right-wing talking points that don’t logically work when combined: the government can’t run anything right, and health care companies are afraid the government will run them out of business. If these companies are so successful why should they be afraid of an inept and bumbling government?

4) The US already has the best health care system in the world, we don’t need any new laws or to change anything.

The Truth: The US, according to the WHO in 2000, ranked 37th in the world as far as health care goes; slightly above Slovenia and Cuba (you know, Cuba, that socialist, communist, pinko country to the south of Florida). This ranking was based on number of preventable deaths, healthy life expectancy, health performance rank, and total expenditure of percentage of GDP for health care. I know, if Canada has such good health care, why do their leaders come here to see our doctors? They don’t. The only positive proof of this I was able to find was a Canadian Parliament minister coming to the US to see a specialist for a very specific issue. I can even counter that with a personal anecdote: I had a friend go to Germany for experimental cancer treatment when his US insurance was unwilling to pay for expensive treatment that might have saved his life. Sadly, he died a few years ago because of that cancer. Yay capitalism.

5) “Death Panels” will decide when your grandma dies.

The Truth: That is so outrageously false I’m shocked that anyone actually believes it, but then I’m shocked people believe half the things that come out of Glenn Beck’s mouth. The best I could come up with is the term “Death Panel” was made up by Sarah Palin in an attempt to sensationalize end-of-life counseling and use it as a scare tactic. When people get old, they sometimes need more help from medical professionals than when they were younger. This can get expensive. To help best plan for this time often their children consult with a doctor on what to do. This is called end-of-life counseling. Here, I’ll re-label it. Let’s call it … Elderly Living Assistance Planning.

6) Non-jailed sex offenders will be able to get viagra on this plan!

The Truth: What? Are you serious? Senator Coburn of Oklahoma brought this up in yet another attempt to scare people away from the idea of health care reform. A convicted sex offender not in jail could get viagra on this new health care reform law in the same way a convicted murderer not in jail could get a gun – through someone willing to give it to them. The outrage at this issue is misplaced, as that scenario is no less or more likely 2 years ago than it is 2 years from now.

7) Costs will go up with the new health care law.

The Truth: What’s to prevent costs from going up now, say … the way they have the past 10 years? Since 2000 there has been a 100% increase in the cost of health care to the average individual while the average wage increase is a fraction of that. Yet, health insurance companies have been reporting record profits and your average health insurance company officer makes tens of millions of dollars a year. At least with an open market system we’d have a chance at real capitalistic price wars. Right now the CEO’s paycheck is padded each time a pencil-pusher gets a pat on the pack for denying you coverage on something. I’d rather have a complete government takeover – I trust the “inept, bumbling” government with my health more than I trust someone to pick my health over greed.

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Zarberg is a member of The Political Observers, a sub-group of our writers who are devoted to topics that are political in nature. Zarberg provides a liberal viewpoint in his articles.

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