One good point about having a gullible population is that it keeps our market economy running. People insist on the latest brand name drugs rather than generic; scam artists have no trouble selling us products to increase various body parts. We race to destroy a perfectly good car for a newer one, even though that carbon footprint won’t be reduced until we’ve driven it for five to eight years. The downside of being gullible is that it costs us money and wastes limited resources.
We do ourselves a disservice when we don’t teach logic in school. Certainly Congress and the media should be required to pass a logic test. The health reform debate is the latest casualty of our ineptness.
Have you read p. 425 of the Health Bill? According to numerous e-mails I received, one would think the government was mandating that senior citizens be advised how to die. None of the e-mails had a link to p. 425. One politician even parroted this message; yes, the same person who was found to have lied in prior years on other issues. But the media still publicized the message without checking p. 425.
Page 425 actually offers consultation on wills, powers of attorney, hospice services, and the usefulness of stating your desire to use life sustaining measures, or not. These are all very practical things that every person—of any age—would be wise to consider, if for no other reason than to avoid confusion later, at critical moments.
Each time I check into Regional Hospital for something as minor as x-rays, I’m asked if I have an ‘advance directive.’ That’s what p. 425 refers to. It pays to do your own homework.
There is much media hype about how health reform might limit our access to care. A discussion the other day with my doctor revealed the following. He said he’s personally seen millions of dollars spent on expensive measures to extend life because the families insisted, although everyone knew the outcome would not change. Here is where advance directives might help reduce costs and avoid conflicts with family members. Saying goodbye is a very important part of life. How much do we spend extending life to say our farewells vs. directing resources towards preventive medicine for a good quality of life, until the inevitable occurs? That is not an unreasonable discussion to have, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
I personally know of procedures that health insurance (and Medicare) pays for, even though there is no science to back up their efficacy. How did this come about—because lobbyists hammered Congress and the insurance companies for years. But most of the blame can be attributed to our education system that is deficient in teaching basic human anatomy and physiology. Children grow up believing in methods akin to voodoo, expecting instant and positive results all the while ignoring their own hand in their health—exercise, proper nutrition, no tobacco, and common sense safety practices.
My conversation then turned to what the doctor felt was the biggest and most ignored problem of health reform—liability. He believes there aren’t enough brave politicians willing to tackle that detail. Until that happens, costs will not be controlled. While paltry limitations for serious and flagrant malpractice are not the answer, he admitted that he sometimes orders tests just to cover his behind.
This month will really test our reasoning abilities. For-profit health insurance companies will plaster the airwaves with ads about the dangers of a public health insurance option. They can do this because they have the money—our money—and they don’t want competition. Yet they’re responsible for our health insurance crisis. Don’t get me wrong, they will attempt to portray themselves as bringing solutions to the table. That is part of their tactic, as Wendell Potter, a former Cigna executive, revealed only too vividly on Bill Moyer’s Journal recently.
Potter used insurance company documents to annotate his tale of the lengths to which the industry went to discredit Michael Moore’s documentary, Sicko. He said they had to do a lot of damage control. These coming weeks we will see more of the same, a lot more.
If there is to be a public health insurance option, the insurance companies want one that will provide a level playing field. But isn’t that the point? We need change, not more of the same. Will citizens see through the upcoming demagoguery on the airwaves? And will our Congressmen and women listen to us during their summer recess? Or have they had too many free lunches with lobbyists.
You’ve heard the saying “if it seems too good to be true, then it is.” But I prefer Shakespeare’s caution because it denotes a bit more thinking on our part and I must be positive in hoping the public will exercise a lot of logic for this very important matter:
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks (Hamlet).”