By Osmond Ekwueme
The effort to take away health insurance from the middle class and the poor and funnel the savings into tax cuts for the rich is a little like mold. It grows best in the dark” The solution is to expose it to the strong light of day.
First of all, slashing billions from the federal health care budget will no doubt create a health care recession as hospitals, doctors, nurses, device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and other health industry feeders are forced to cut back. These cutbacks will ripple out into local economies across the country and make everyone’s economic life harder.
Now, let’s unpack the so called “health insurance and pre-existing condition”. Health insurance companies are for-profit enterprises, and as a matter of fact deliver nothing. They don’t care for patients, cure diseases or develop vaccines. What they do is construct barriers to health care for those who need it in an effort to maximize profit. Why do we allow these businessmen to interpose themselves as gatekeepers between our citizens and the health care they need? This is a very serious question that merits a candid answer. The government has been subsidizing the insurance industry long enough. Time for Medicare for all; not luxury care for few.
The idea of “pre-existing condition “ is a misnomer. Please, let’s quit this nonsense. In fact, being young and healthy is the leading risk factor for becoming old. With proper medical care, the condition resolves itself over six or seven decades. If everyone had insurance for his or her entire lives the term “pre-existing condition” would no longer have any meaning. Human beings are pre-existing beings…. all of us are human beings racing toward death at different rates. We are all breaking down. The 2nd law of thermodynamics tells us so. Whether due to accidents or natural disaster or illness or disability or childhood or old age or pregnancy, people deserve health care of equal compassion and delivery. Full stop! Insurance is not the answer; it is the wrong answer.
Humans will all develop a condition affecting health at some time in life…that is biology. Of the millions of babies born in the USA annually, very few will live to be 90 years old. Accidents will claim many but the rest of us will drop off along the arc of our lives from diseases, either common or rare. Illness comes down the pike for all of us, at some point. When a simple cut finger or toe can lead to bacterial infection, the concept of excluding from health care those that are sick is a real chuckle. It is heartless and cruel to deny health care to a single person, let alone millions. It is sick to give tax breaks to the wealthy for the purpose of depriving anyone health care or food or good education, a place to live.
The health care industry is betting the species will survive even if individual members die off. It is win/win and a good population control tool that continues to keep the sick and dying from affecting the bottom line. And, now with the advancement of genetics, technology and electronic medical records, this whole issue of just who has, or might be prone, to pre-existing conditions enters an expanded realm. I don’t blame the profit seeking insurance companies. Their only goal is to maximize shareholder returns. If profit is the only motive, you want to filter out anybody who might make a claim. As for health care, they add no value, just cost.
I have seen patients denied coverage for minor infection or injury. Information can subtly warp best practices in other ways as well. If you legitimately declare an injury the result of domestic violence, the insurer will deny coverage since the policy does not pay for criminal acts (and the abuser would beat his spouse for causing him more debt). At the same time, if we strike domestic violence as a cause in our documentation, when in the fullness of time we recognize the need to help these victims, we have lost the ability to identify them in the sea of cases around us. So, information kills, both through denial of access and obscuring needed detail for future work.
We will spin around and around the mulberry bush until we decide what our national goal is. How do you convince people who see this as someone else’s problem that they are one layoff from it being their problem? How do you convince people that their rotator cuff or back injury will disqualify them, as well as their maternity, or their tick bite? How do you convince people that illness is not something you blame on the ill OR that it is not something God inflicts on the unworthy. How do you convince someone that without access to care, the flu could make you homeless? How do you convince people that shared risk is better for national prosperity, for social stability, for reduced violence and unrest? Yes indeed, how do you convince people that it is not somebody else’s problem?
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Osmond Ekwueme MD. PhD
Medical Professional and Policy Analyst.