Challenging assumptions

Why is it, when you reply to a misleading post on line, with information that challenges the poster’s assumptions and points out misleading information, they get so incredibly butt hurt??  Why is it that they get snide and disrespectful but that’s what they end up accusing you of?  Why is it they are allowed to swear but you’re not?  Why when you point out that you have personal, familial experience with something, not to mention professional experience, that is a disrespectful response?

You know, part of discussion is disagreement.  If anyone is to learn anything new, then ideas have to be challenged.  John Michael Greer coined a term:  dissensus.  It means, essentially, the opposite of consensus – which in my opinion is basically imposition of the strongest personality’s ideas by holding everyone else hostage until they agree.  Dissensus means holding an opinion which goes contrary to the established consensus.  It’s usually better if one has research backing up their dissensus, but sometimes it’s just logical deduction that creates it.

The post that caused me to be sworn at, and to be labelled disrespectful, regarded debunking the myth that hordes of Canadians are coming across the border to the US for needed care because the lines are so long in Canada that people are in danger of dying if they don’t do so.  This person brought up one example “friends” (who in fact turned out to be a married couple, only one of whom required medical care) who “had” to come to the US because they had to wait so long for a procedure.  The procedure turned out to be an MRI, for ‘chest pains’ which isn’t exactly first line diagnostic for that.  Lab work and a chest xray would have been done first.  And the wait for this procedure?  4 weeks.  Not exactly a lifetime, and not a time period that would be considered unreasonable even here if you are waiting for insurance pre-authorization.  Not to mention that this person had a stage 3 cancer diagnosis and was given 6 months to live; the MRI in my opinion, though I wasn’t there, was most likely to determine the extent of the cancer not to diagnose it.  And the fact that I know Canadians, and have in-law family in Edmonton and therefore have personal knowledge of how the Canadian system works, only served to make this person even more upset.

I detest how people get so irate and hateful when you challenge their stories.  Especially conservatives because they have such a religious conviction that ‘socialized’ care is evil.  Even when given facts to the contrary.  I especially detest how they are so dedicated to believing the ‘one’ story and they don’t bother to do ANY research whatsoever, instead getting their ‘research’ and ‘facts’ from sites that are paid for by corporations with a vested interest in making sure people don’t have any option but for profit ones.

Now I will be honest.  The Canadian system holds people accountable.  When I worked a contract job for a flight company, we flew a Canadian snowbird from a rural facility to a trauma facility for a head injury.  How did he suffer this head injury?  He was drunk and he fell off the bar stool.  I can tell you his wife was absolutely furious, because their Canadian insurance specifically did NOT cover accidents suffered as a result of alcohol intoxication.  They were going to end up footing the bill.

But so does the AHCCCS system hold people accountable.  They don’t cover accidents resulting from drug or alcohol intoxication either, though most people don’t know that and those that are on the state’s Medicaid system really don’t have any intention of paying the bill that results anyway.

The idea of entitlement seems to be seriously misunderstood.  According to Mirriam Webster Online, entitlement has three meanings:

  1. the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something
  2. the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges) (parentheses theirs)
  3. a type of financial help provided by the government for members of a particular group

Now, I told this person in my post that most Americans have a misplaced sense of entitlement, and I meant it in the second way — that people think they’re entitled to have the government foot the bill for their health care, and they don’t have any personal responsibility to manage their own health.  I also meant it in the sense that people want what they want when they want it and damned be the consequences if they have to wait.  I pointed out to said poster that his ‘friend’ exhibited that same sense of entitlement by being unwilling to wait for an MRI and coming to the US to get it.  Lucky him, he had money to be able to cut to the head of the line, because that’s how the triage system works in America — unlike in Canada where for the most part the sickest go to the head of the line and the rest wait their turn.

Health care is a basic human right.  Having someone else foot the bill is not.  Does that mean I think the poor should just do without?  Absolutely not!!!!  It does mean though, that EVERYONE needs to have skin in the game — they need to be required to pay according to their means, and they need to take responsibility for their own health, and they need to be held to a standard of accountability the same as the rest of us — including the very wealthy.

Health care is not an entitlement in the sense of the common usage definition.  Nor is food stamps, or welfare.  Unemployment insurance IS, and so is Medicare, and so is Social Security.  Why?  Because we all pay into that with our taxes for our entire working lives.  Even if you file exempt you do not avoid paying these taxes.  These are programs that are promised to us as long as we pay these taxes via our payroll deductions.  Therefore you should have the right to pull out at least as much as you put in to the system.  And the government has a responsibility to shepherd that money carefully, because it doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to us.  The pissing away of the Social Security trust fund is reason enough to put government officials in prison, in my opinion.  That money was never meant for anything EXCEPT retirement — not funding wars, or paying for NSA spying apparatus.

Socialism in itself is not evil.  We have many, many socialized systems in America, ones that very few people seem to have a problem with:

  1. Postal service – getting mail seems to be pretty well expected by most;
  2. Fire service – what if the fire department would only come if you paid their subscription??  If you don’t think that could have negative consequences, ask anyone who’s ever had Rural Metro stand on the opposite side of the street while their house burned to the ground;
  3. Police service – aside from the increasingly militarized and abusive trend of our police agencies, I really don’t hear anyone complaining about taxes paying for police;
  4. Public roads – everyone assumes they have a right to drive on the roads, and that the roads will be maintained in decent driving condition.  What if ALL the roads were toll roads?  What if you had to pay $5 every time you went to the grocery store just to be on the road?
  5. Social Security, Medicaid, Unemployment insurance – there are those who complain about these, but they’re also the ones who are wealthy enough to not have to live on these…

See?  It’s only evil when it comes to health care.  Or rather, medical care, because our system is built around medical models of illness care, not actual health care.  Instead of railing against the evils of socialism, people would be much better served railing against the rampant corporatization of our government and the selling off of formerly public assets into private for-profit hands.  Or perhaps, instead of railing against the evils of socialism, people could rail against the prevailing medical model and demand actual public HEALTH services – you know, basic preventative health care, health education, dental and vision care, healthy food.  Not meds and expensive hospitalizations, but stuff that actually contributes to a healthy populace.

Ok, off the soap box as I’ve digressed greatly from the original thread of my post.

Yep. All riled up.

Update:  found this blog thanks to a post on Facebook :What if Collapse came and nobody noticed?

We really got into politics during class.  Particularly the politics of health care, insurance, and why we don’t have socialized medicine.

I think I am the most politically aware person in class.

What we have is a two tiered health care system.  And too many doctors and providers – indeed too many health care staff period – to serve the few who can afford our high tech health care system.  What we’re facing is a crash.

Some of my classmates were outraged that France (and other nations like them with socialized care) does not pay for things like dialysis or heart surgery for those over 75 (for France, not sure about other countries), instead choosing to spend that public money on sectors of their society who still have a chance to be productive and contribute for many years to come.  They just refused to understand that those same French elderly CAN afford, like most of their society, to purchase private insurance that DOES allow them to receive those treatments.  They are not denied them, they are merely on their own to pay for them.  My classmates were insistent that it should be on a case by case basis.  Really?  How cost effective is that?  And how can one not understand that their system, BECAUSE it is offered to every citizen, allows them a much freer life without the stress of trying to navigate the health care system and worrying about how they’ll pay for their care? How can one not understand that insurance is so very much less expensive even when purchased for the simple reason that it’s NOT required?   How can one not understand that the French have a longer life span, even so, than we in the U.S.?

How can one not understand that in the U.S., we spend 9o% of ALL THE MONEY SPENT on health care for a person in the LAST YEAR of life?  How does that make for sound fiscal policy?

Regardless, even those systems are on the verge of crash.  Look at Spain, where they just recently declared they will no longer offer health care benefits for illegal aliens.  Look at the controversy here in AMERICA where people are outraged at that – like we have any sort of a higher ground to stand on?  We don’t even offer services to all of our citizens, let alone illegal aliens, and people here have the gall to be outraged that Spain is doing what it needs to in order to attempt to preserve some sort of health care for its actual citizens?  It will crash soon, violently.  And they too will have a two tiered health care system with far too many medical providers and staff.

Some classmates were dubious because they thought they would be told where to work and would make less money if they were employed in a socialized system like Canada’s.  Since I have in law family in Edmonton, when they started saying how awful a system it was because people had to wait so long for treatments and surgeries, I called BS on that.  I explained that issues that affect nothing but one’s quality of life may have to wait, but issues that affect life and death get first priority.  Unlike here, where those that have the most money go first, regardless of the seriousness of their issue.  And that in Canada, there is still a thriving private practice of doctors and nurses, it’s not illegal as far as I know to purchase private insurance and many Canadians actually do purchase it just in case.  The key here is that it’s optional, not mandatory, and even if they don’t purchase it they’re covered via the public option anyway.  It seems the Canadians they treat here in the American hospitals – who are being treated courtesy of the health insurance that it’s mandatory they purchase if they are traveling here – like to gripe. And misrepresent a very good system.

Regardless, it’s going to crash.

Why do I keep saying it’s going to crash?  Well, for the simple reason that taxes are dependent on employment; other things as well, but primarily on that.  And employment is down everywhere in the Western world.  50% of Spanish young adults are unemployed.  More than 24% of the population is unemployed.  These people aren’t paying the taxes they were, and they’re drawing on public benefits paid for by taxes.  How long do you think that can continue?  And it’s the same everywhere.  Demands on the system keep going up but tax revenues aren’t rising at the same rate.

It’s even worse here in America.  We offer subsidies to banks, coal and gas companies, oil companies, insurance companies, car manufacturers, ‘green’ energy companies, agribusiness, … the list goes on.  Plus what we spend on keeping our military overstaffed, because to make our military smaller would mean releasing massive numbers of angry young men (and women) who are overly familiar with firearms and accustomed to viewing life through the lens of the conquering occupier, onto our streets with no jobs for them.  We can’t afford to offer any sort of safety net (such as it is here) to our citizens when they need it, because we’re tapped out doing all of that.  It’s going to crash.  It’s bound to.

And the idea that Americans don’t buy into it is because we’re supposedly so ‘independent’ is utterly and completely crap.  Independent?  As in not following fashion trends…? As in not watching the Kardashians, and others equally insipid and irrelevant…?  As in not tweeting our every boring move…?  As in not merely parroting what we hear and see on the news….?  Riiiight.  We may have been independent 100+ years ago, but not for a long time.  And this country was ripe for socializing medicine at the turn of the 20th century, but the AMA got involved in undermining that, and now they get to reap what they sowed so long ago.  Shitty reimbursement, other people telling them what is and isn’t approved for medical treatment, and the reality that in order to survive they have to work for a big corporation and be just a cog in a really big machine instead of an independent, wealthy, respected individual who offered an important SERVICE to their community.  Which, by the way, are they very bogeymen the AMA invoked to prevent our country getting any sort of socialized medicine all the way down the line.  The only time they lost was when Medicare and Medicaid were passed by Congress.  Only it’s not the government imposing those restrictions on doctors now, like they claimed, it’s insurance companies…after all, the insurance companies have stockholders and bottom lines to protect.

I looked up how much it would cost me to get insurance – because since quitting my full time job I no longer have any – through the ObamaCare Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan.  It would be a minimum of $240 per month.  For the two of us it would be nearly $500 per month.  That’s just not feasible, and to think that I’ll be assessed a tax penalty because even at this price (as opposed to the nearly $2000 per month it would otherwise cost me) it’s too expensive makes me feel trapped.

Medicare benefits for all – the true public option – is the only answer, and it’s not the answer because our system is unsustainable.  So as you can see, there is no answer, only a soon to be overabundance of plastic surgeons, aesthiticians, orthopedic surgeons, and dermatologists and no primary care for the great majority of regular citizens.  Prices will come down, dramatically, but still most of us won’t be able to afford care. Maybe the system will keep lumbering on for a long time yet, and the crash will be slow and gentle, more like a ride down a hill than a step off a cliff.  Maybe.

And what do I think I’m doing furthering my education?  Just to do my best for the people I live among.  I have never been out to get rich, just to get by.  What do I expect for all of my sacrifice to become an NP?  Just to be able to pay my own bills, and to be able to help those who come to me to live the most healthy life they can.  You know, a life of service.

What is the answer?

I wish I knew.

I wish I still believed in the ability of the system to be responsive to the needs of its citizens and to change.   I hate politics.