Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

August 5, 2007

A Few Thoughts on “Sicko”

Filed under: capitalism, economy, film, politics — codesmithy @ 10:21 am

I saw “Sicko” last weekend. I wanted to share a few thoughts. I thought the most moving part of the film was when Moore took the 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba. I want to put aside the politics for a moment and just examine what was going on a human level, forget nations, races, etc.

In Cuba, trained professionals did the human thing, the moral thing and what they wanted to do; help them. Cuba wasn’t some bliss of medical care. It was obviously a poor nation. Despite that poverty, the doctors were free. Free to treat the patients to the best of their ability with the resources at their disposal. That property was present in the Canadian, English and French systems as well. I don’t feel that the Cubans, French, English or Canadians on average are innately more caring than Americans, but rather American health professionals are placed under constraints that make them less able to demonstrate their basic humanity unlike the other systems.

I don’t think Americans wants to dump old women on the street and I am not condemning the USC hospital directly, because I don’t think they are exceptionally bad, or unique in their plight. Accusing them of wrongdoing is pure scapegoating and ignoring our own complicity, the problem is the system not the actors.

I’ve looked at why health-care should be socialized before. Although, the other aspect that should be considered is the bureaucracy that exists to keep payouts of insurance companies down. I understand that there is a lot of gray area between preventing abuse and denying people care that they have honestly payed for. As “Sicko” demonstrated, people are dead today because of those very issues.

The fact of the matter is that when I have used social services I’ve been relatively happy, such as post office, library, education, or fire department. Nationalized health-care would seem to fall under the promote the general welfare aspect of the Constitution like those other services. They seem to keep costs down, and work well if they are adequately funded.

One of Bush’s proposed alternative solutions is Health Savings Accounts, which makes no sense to me. How could you save enough if you were in a serious automobile accident at 20, which might not have been your fault? Or if you developed cancer as a child? How would you know if you saved enough?

In my view, the reason why the free-market works generally is because individuals are able to do what they feel is right. The innovation to create things like “Elvis Collector Plates” which I don’t think anyone knew they wanted one until they saw one. But, health-care is about people, not things, and often the losses taken from not giving care can easily outweigh costs of giving the care if it weren’t for the temporary insolvency driven by exorbitant health-care costs. As other countries demonstrate, we can establish a health-care system that allows health-care professionals to better display their innate humanity while still providing them a lifestyle they deserve.

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1 Comment »

  1. Obviously, you don’t understand the basics of Health Savings Accounts as indicated by the state-ment “How would you know if you’ve saved enough?” The law requires that the savings component of the HSA can only be opened once you’ve acquired a high deductible health insurance plan. Specifically, the insurance plan must have a minimum deductible of $1,100 for a single person or $2,200 for a family. Ta- king an HSA compatible insurance plan will save you premium dollars when compared to a low deductible traditional plan. When the premium savings are deposited in an HSA on a tax deductible basis, that money remains yours to be used to pay medical expenses, i.e., office vi-sits, prescription drugs, chiro-practic visits, and vision care costs (optometric visits & glasses). These expenses are paid out of the HSA and when funds are withdrawn to pay eligible medical expenses, you are not taxed on those funds. If, on the other hand, you do not spend all the funds in the account, they roll over to the next year. For 2007, maximum allowable contributions are $2,850 for an individual or $5,650 for family coverage. In 2008, those numbers increase to $2,900 and $5,800 respectively. Money remaining in the account at age 65 can be left there to pay unreimbursed medical expenses or can be converted to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

    The key advantages are:
    1) Premium savings created by buying a compliant high deductible insurance plan;
    2) The ability to create a tax- favored Health Savings Account;
    3) The ability to pay eligible medical expenses with pre-tax dollars:
    4) The retention of ownership of money in the HSA rather than relinquishing control to an insurance company, or worse, a government agency; and
    5) The abililty to retain funds in the HSA to pay unreimbursed medical expenses or convert the HSA balance to an IRA.

    Comment by Stanley Dean — August 6, 2007 @ 1:01 am


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