Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Medical prostitution

Congressional Democrats and a barnstorming President face deep skepticism from the American public about the details of their effort to change the nation's health-care system, even as enthusiasm for the prospect of reform remains high, according to a new TIME poll.

This story goes on to say that 56% of Americans polled are convinced that health care reform will “offer less freedom to choose doctors and coverage.” That more than half of Americans polled believe such a thing is a testimony to how effective it can be for pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies to spend millions of dollars to encourage people to worry about what might happen if the status quo changes. During the past week I have heard advertisements on radio and television, and I have received telephone calls, all urging the view that if government becomes involved in making decisions about what health insurance will cover, then people will have fewer options to get the health care they need. A favorite mantra concocted to nourish hand-wringing worry is “health care will be rationed.”

Companies whose principal aim is to make profits have done an excellent job of making Americans believe that companies whose principal aim is to make profits for their shareholders are going to be more objective in making wise decisions about what health care should be available than government bureaucrats. The track record of these for-profit companies is that we in the United States have the system we now have. That system guarantees that

  • people with pre-existing conditions are unlikely to be able to have any affordable health insurance at all. (I know someone whose pre-existing condition is old age. He pays $35,000 a year in health insurance.);
  • insurance company bureaucrats will scrutinize every claim and make decisions about whether it is covered by the claimant's policy;
  • pharmaceuticals will cost significantly more than they do in Canada, Europe and Asia—in all those places one can get exactly the same pharmaceuticals that one can get in the United States, but tjey cost far less there than in the USA;
  • a significant proportion of the population will never be able to afford insurance, and will therefore will never be able to afford health care, thus insuring that they either go untreated or get treatment at artificially elevated costs at public expense.

During the past two weeks there has been an excellent summer course taught at University of New Mexico called Traditional medicine without borders: Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico. (For more information see the course's home page.) One theme that has emerged as the various Mexican and Native American healers have spoken of their practices is that a true healer never has a customer. Customers pay. If they don't pay, they do not get services. Traditional healers treat anyone who requires treatment. If the person treated is able to make a voluntary donation, then a donation is made. But patients are never turned away simply because they are not able to make a donation, or do not wish to make a donation.

A second theme that emerges is that all healing is done in a spirit of love. People who are suffering from physical and emotional stress tend not to heal as well or as quickly as people who are more tranquil and at peace. The American for-profit health-care system is not based on a spirit of love, nor is it a system that makes people calm and at ease. It is, therefore, not a system that does a very good job of curing people of illness. It is the antithesis of a healing system.

Why Americans settle for one of the worst and most expensive health-care systems in the industrialized world would be a mystery if it were not for the fact that people motivated by a craving for money are very good at manipulating beliefs. The American medical establishment has carefully manipulated bother the beliefs and the emotions of the American people. They will continue to do so until Americans stand up and say “Enough!” It's an easy word to pronounce. Let's just say it.