For-profit medicine is a national sickness

July 29, 2009 by  

When my Mom was diagnosed with leukemia, the one thing I didn’t need to worry about was the cost. My parents have long had good health insurance, and have long saved as much money as they could to prepare for the eventuality of illness. Prior to her death, my Mom received as good of treatment as she could have gotten to fight the insidious cancer that finally took her life.

Still, even though my parents had a golden parachute of health insurance and savings, there were times they even had to scrimp - especially with some of the medicines prescribed to her running in the range of $2,000 per prescription. Then they’d either purchase half a prescription, or look for a cheaper alternative.

I rest comfortably knowing that my Mom fought as hard as she could and received good medical care. At the cost of thousands of dollars out of their pockets, of course. This is what keeps me up at nights. Through my Mom’s entire ordeal, one line stuck in my mind - For-profit health care is a national illness.

As health care has taken center stage in the national dialogue, that line continues to reverberate in my mind. My parents worked their whole lives, almost solely for the purpose to afford dying. And make no mistake about it, my parents are most definitely “haves” in a nation rapidly becoming easily defined as “haves” and “have nots.”

While my Mom was living and I’d spend time with her at various hospitals, I got to hear many stories of people struggling with health care bills. Because everyone is in the same boat as my parents, but not so many have the financial wherewithal to come out of a massive medical situation without finding themselves in financial turmoil.

As President Barack Obama’s health care plan has been revised, rewritten and demonized, it has become increasingly clear that the status quo will remain. Insurance companies will be repaid for their investments in trying to kill the bill, and will continue to profit wildly. Millions and millions of Americans will continue to either be uninsured or be under-insured.

A health care reform bill will eventually be passed - Obama will make sure of that. But with insurance companies still in the mix, Americans will continue to work their entire lives to give away their nest eggs to them.

Health care in the United States is still something that angers me. Is the U.S. so determined to be a pure capitalist society that the idea of taking away ill-gotten profits from insurance companies means we’ve become socialist? Why is Universal Health care considered such a crime against humanity in the U.S.? Are we all that proud of living in a nation where the health of an American citizen solely depends on profit margin?

All I can say is that I know there is someone driving a new car, paid for by my Mom’s suffering. And that others are living in big houses with obscene bank accounts, all paid for by the sick and dying. It is obscene and inhuman.

For-Profit medicine is a national sickness in the United States. And for this, there is only one cure - single-payer. And thanks to politicians on both sides of the aisle doing their masters’ bidding, that’s not something you’ll see come out of Obama’s health care reform.

Single-payer. It is the only cure for this health care sickness. But it will never come to the U.S. as long as the few that are in charge - with pockets adequately lined - would rather the nation stays sick.



8 Responses to “For-profit medicine is a national sickness”

  1. connecticutman1 on July 29th, 2009 8:20 am

    Nice post, Wolfrum. I noticed you put it up at TPM as well (I rec’ed it when I read it. :). Would you consider posting it at ePluribus Media? If you do, I’ll gladly bump it to the front page.

  2. dgun on July 29th, 2009 9:03 am

    snips from a 2005 CBO report

    The federal government spent more than $25 billion on health-related R&D in 2005. Only some of that spending is explicitly related to the development of new pharmaceuticals.

    By standard accounting measures, the pharmaceutical industry consistently ranks as one of the most profitable industries in the United States.

    The effect of health insurance on drug companies’ revenues—combined with strong patent protection that helps firms maintain higher prices

    A point I have made for years on web forums is that pharmaceutical research and development in the US is partially subsidized with US tax dollars, yet the pharmaceutical industry is allowed exclusive patents on new drugs for a period of 20 years. If a pharmaceutical company directly benefits from taxpayer money in the R&D of a new drug, the exclusive right to profit from the drug should be reduced to a max of five years.

    Some will say this will discourage investment in R&D. But I don’t think so. I believe that large labs will stay away from US tax dollars and use 100% private investment to fund their research, thus avoiding the reduced patent protection. This will open room in the market for smaller labs and startups that will compete with each for the freed tax dollars. Increasing the number of labs and smaller companies competing in this market will lead to increased innovation and ultimately lower costs for patients, IMO.

    Still, talking about health care in this way is depressing.

  3. hugh.c.mcbride on July 29th, 2009 9:44 am

    As President Barack Obama’s health care plan has been revised, rewritten and demonized, it has become increasingly clear that the status quo will remain. Insurance companies will be repaid for their investments in trying to kill the bill, and will continue to profit wildly. Millions and millions of Americans will continue to either be uninsured or be under-insured.

    As we’ve come to expect from you, this is a fantastic post, Bill. Your ability to address universal issues with a personal touch is why the Chronicles is a must-stop on my daily laps ’round the Internet.

    I pulled out the quote above because I’ve had the same realization over the past few days. I’ve rarely been accused of being overly optimistic, but for a brief shining moment there (Obama in the Oval, 60 Dem senators) I thought we might actually be getting something real & meaningful accomplished re: health care.

    It’s of course becoming more & more obvious that that ain’t gonna be the case, & the paragraph above goes a long way toward expressing the obscenity of this failure. Ridiculous insurance company profits, millions of uninsured Americans, & the only ones who can truly have peace of mind are those with a spare few hundred thousand stocked away.

    I’m really glad to hear that with all you & your family had to endure during your mom’s illness, continued struggles with finances weren’t particularly egregious. Still, the fact that a relatively well-off woman had to purchase 1/2 prescriptions is a crime.

    I know that “Sicko” got ignored in a number of circles as just another instance of Michael Moore being Michael Moore, but his central tenet — it’s not only the uninsured who are being screwed, but also those who actually *have* insurance, yet find they can’t get their treatments funded — oughta be etched in stone & shouted from the rooftops.

    ‘Scuse me whilst I find a dark room to sit in & sob quietly for a bit …

  4. Christina on July 29th, 2009 10:51 am

    I’ve always felt that there something immoral and distasteful about the fact that health care is a for-profit industry anyway. How do you make a profit on the illness and suffering of others? Isn’t that the definition of evil?

    Or, for that matter, making a profit on the incarceration of others. Or making a profit on children being removed from and/or losing their parents and becoming wards of the state.

    There are some things that just aren’t appropriate for profit-making, even if it were true that they did it “better” or “more efficiently”. The fact that they *don’t* just makes it worse.

  5. LBJ and Medicare « Leftward on July 30th, 2009 4:18 am

    [...] LBJ and Medicare Posted on July 30, 2009 by flaminglib On today’s anniversary of Medicare, it’s worth revisiting a 2003 piece on LBJ by Larry DeWitt… Probably the most revealing conversation regarding LBJ’s political values and sentiments as they related to Social Security and Medicare was an extended conversation he had with his Press Secretary, Bill Moyers. In this conversation, recorded on March 10, 1965, Johnson permits himself to reflect almost philosophically on his support for a provision in a pending bill which would provide a retroactive increase in Social Security payments. Moyers is arguing that the President should support the retroactivity clause because it will provide a stimulus to the economy. Johnson supports the provision, but he makes clear to Moyers that he does not see programs like Social Security and Medicare as being about economics. [...]

  6. rd1776 on October 2nd, 2009 12:22 pm

    What a pathetic sob story. Health insurance companies don’t profit on illness - they lose money. Why should any company be forced to take a loss on pre-existing conditions - only a Democrat moron would think of something like that. Millions and millions of Americans will continue to either be uninsured or be under-insured because of their choice. Employer-sponsored health insurance insulates employees from full cost, promotes overspending! But labor unions would never give up that benefit would they?

    There is something immoral and distasteful about the fact that anyone (the healthy) be forced to give up a right of their own for another (obese slob) to benefit from it.

  7. Lefty on October 11th, 2009 5:54 am

    Dear rd1776,

    You are a complete idiot, and a selfish one at that!- Who would choose not to have health insurance, unless money was an issue in their lives?

  8. Paul on November 26th, 2011 11:07 pm

    I won’t speak my mind because a brilliant man has already shared his insights on why the United States of America and its free market capitalistic system is the by far the most efficient way to ensure the most opportunity and the least amount of poverty when one employs its constitutinal principles properly and without faulter.

    HealthCare In A Free Market:

    Socialized Medicine:

    Responsiblity To The Poor:

    Redistribution of Wealth:

    Socialism is Force:

    And just to add insult to injury… no pun intended…. I’ll throw in a little Micheal Moore getting pawned by John Stossel (self proclaimed democrat turned liberatarian)

    John Stossel Pawns Michael Moore:

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