Thursday, March 12, 2009

Our health care system works perfectly

As I was listening to "Fresh Air" on NPR yesterday, I was astounded to hear some expert attempting to dissect why our health care system works so poorly. Really? Our health care system works poorly? This "expert" clearly doesn't understand. Our health care system works brilliantly. It is the best in the world at doing what it is designed to do. It's just that our health care system, unlike those in other countries, isn't designed to make sick people well. Our health care system, because it is run entirely by corporations, is designed to make money.

And our health care system makes more money than any other health care system in the world by far.

Corporations are legal entities governed by one basic principle. The primary motive of a corporation is to make money for the investors in that company. Any officer in a corporation who does not put the financial interest of the corporation above all other interests is subject to not only dismissal, but legal action. It is actually a crime for a corporate officer to put any motive above profit in making decisions regarding a corporation.

Let me be clear: If a child is dying and the insurance company can avoid paying for treatment because of fine print in the contract, the corporation is under a legal obligation to let the child die.

Some people think it's cruel to refuse somebody vital medical treatment over a technicality in a contract. Well, cruel or not, this is what any corporation is legally obligated to do. When corporations hire people to search out every conceivable possibility to deny payment for a treatment, they're simply fulfilling their legal obligation.

As we consider altering health care in America, we need to ask one vital question: What should be the primary goal for our health care system in America? If the answer is to make money, then we shouldn't change a thing. But if our goal is something other than spending as much as possible on health care regardless of the physical outcomes for patients, then we need to consider that any involvement by corporations is fundamentally at odds with the notion of treating people with the most medically necessary treatment.

People opposed to universal health care often like to pose the question of whether or not Americans want some government bureaucrat making our health decisions for us. Well given that our health decisions are currently made by accountants whose legal obligation is to put profits before health, you can count me firmly in the camp that would rather have my treatment options determined by a doctor (even a government doctor) than an accountant.


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