Healthcare Crises and Democracy

Health care systems

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Healthcare has been a hot topic in the U.S. lately. The country has been having health care crises for so long now, and the length of these crises varies depending on who you talk to. I think the problem has been happening for over a decade, since teh 90s, probably even before the 90s. I came to the U.S. iin 1990, and so I can talk based on my experience and what I have observed in almost two decades. The sad thing is that there are people in this country who defiantly believe that there is no crisis. Then there are those who admit that crisis does exist, but believe that no intervention needs to happen because eventually the problem will take care of itself. These are the same group of people who also believe that no intervention is needed regarding the economy crisis because that is just how the economy works; it has its ups and downs and that the government should not interfere with it. Nonsense.

There are two current crises in healthcare now. First, there are just way too many people with no health insurance. Because of the lack of access to healthcare coverage, these people usually have no opportunity to have regular check-ups and early intervention for any sign of health problem. They tend to wait then until the symptoms become worse and create a much worse of health issue. If given a choice of seeing a doctor and having regular visitation to their doctor, I’m positive that they’ll be able to maintain better physical and mental health condition. Many of these people would visit a doctor when their health condition is too dire for early intervention. Often, hospitalization is required by then. By the time they see a doctor, it is also likely to occur through a visit to an emergency room (ER). The U.S. has a law that prohibits hospitals to turn away patients who enter ER. The problem with this situation is that the cost of hospitalization and late intervention is likely to be much higher than the cost of early intervention and regular check-ups. Therefore, I don’t think it takes a genius necessarily to realize that there is definitely more benefit in making sure that everyone should have health insurance, access to healthcare services, including access to regular phsycal checkups and primary intervention. The key is to avoid a last-minute trip to ER. ER should really be used only as a last resort because each visit costs a lot of money to the hospital. The high cost of ER treatment is then billed to the insured patient, hoping that the patient should be able to pay it, which is just a wishful thinking. If patients cannot pay for the bills, guess who will cover the rest of it, the hospitals and the taxpayers.

This is obviously a hole (a big hole!) in the system and it needs to be fixed before it gets even worse than it is now. I don’t recommend that the law regarding the role of ER should be eliminated. That law should stay. Ethically and morally, I believe ER should always be available for everyone. What needs to be changed is to do whatever we can to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare.

Another major crisis in healthcare is the amount of power health insurance companies have in this country. Currently, they can refuse coverage based on whatever terminology and rules they created. To sue an insurance company is like suing God; I wish you luck. Unless you have a very strong case, which means that the insurance company has blatantly broken a law, I would say forget about it. Even so, it will still cost a lot of money, time, and emotional ups and downs.

The Obama administration is trying to change all of these above and some other problems that I haven’t even mentioned, and I’ve been amazed at the amount of ugliness the effort has brought out in the public by people who are against it. If you haven’t seen anything about this, check out recent footages (from the past one month) from the Rachel Maddow show or the Countdown with Keith Olbermann show. People in this country have what they called town hall meeting, which is usually done during the month of August when congressmen and congresswomen are usually back in their home state. Townhall meetings can be done actually at any time too, not just in August, but August has been famously known for these activities. Town hall meetings are used as a way to gather constituents and discuss about a new bill or policy. Throughout the month of August so far, meetings have been held in almost all states about the healthcare policy that Obama has proposed. In many of these meetings, protesters of the bill have shown up in large groups with angry shouts, signs and effigies conveying hatred and racist messages. Some people have even shown up carrying pistol or machine gun. Why? Some of the most disturbing signs I’ve seen are those with Obama’s picture with a hitler mustache, or an effigy of a doll hanging on a rope and with the name of a senator or Obama attached to it. They are disturbing because they send hatred and violent messages to the public. Obama has been called racist, fascist, Hitler, socialist, the ‘n’ word, and so on. Who’s the racist now? If children see these signs, what messages would they take in?

There has been an argument regarding democracy as well. Town hall meeting is really a reflection, a symbol, and a sign for democracy. It is meant for people to raise their voice and send messages directly to their representatives and it is meant for their voice to be heard loudly by their representatives and fellow citizens. It is a form of democracy. What has been happening during these town hall meetings about healthcare policy is that these groups of protesters were screaming and protesting so loudly that they prevented other people to talk. Sometimes they even stopped people from entering the building because of the loudness and the violent messages. I mean, if you see people carrying guns, will you also go in? Maybe, but it made some people to think twice. The gun-carrying, by the way, doesn’t happen in all states. The law regarding the right to carry a gun in the public differs from one state to another.

Democracy has been violated at some of these town hall meetings, and it is a shame! I really don’t think many of these people even understand democracy and what it means to have democracy. To have democracy is to uphold democracy. You don’t just demand it, you also keep it up yourself. It’s not going to be given to you as a present; you take it and keep it by continuing to work hard at upkeeping it. It makes me so angry when I saw those footages on TV about this violation of democracy. My blood just started to boil. I feel like shouting to them to wake them up, but then if I shouted at them, then I just become them.

My only consolation when seeing something like that is to remind myself that people sometimes act based on fear and without thinking much. I feel sorry for them in the end because I don’t think they have the ability to do critical thinking. They take what is fed to them by the extreme right-wing leaders that they watch on TV, listen to on the radio, or read from the internet. Then they go out to the public carrying hateful signs proudly thinking that they are demonstrating their right to have democracy and freedom of speech. No, it doesn’t work that way. Freedom of speech is based on responsibility, not just as a permission or ability to say anything at anytime to anyone. It is very dangerous when a right that is so powerful such as this to be taken lightly and irresponsibly. With more power comes more responsibility. How do you explain that to these people?


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