There has been a lot of talk about health care reform over the past month: much of the information has been repetitive, not based in fact, or purely sensationalist. However, there have been some well-written and meaningful pieces that have emerged above the din. I’d like to highlight a few of them here:
August 9, 2009 – NY Times – Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn – “A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform”
This is a relatively concise and unbiased article covering some of the main issues of the Congressional health care reform proposals. It might be slightly outdated, but it’s hard to tell what real changes, if any, have been made since Congress is currently on recess. Various pundits and politicians can spread rumors about changes until they’re blue in the face, but it won’t mean much until the paperwork is presented again.
August 23, 2009 – Washington Post – T.R. Reid – Five Myths About Health Care Around the World
This article was passed along to me by a friend of mine who is much more internationally aware and better traveled than I am. It provides a brief education about some of the most common misconceptions about health care systems in other developed nations including the prevalence of socialized medicine and the overall quality of American health care compared to other systems. There are, in fact, several systems based entirely on (regulated) private insurance that have better health outcomes than the U.S.
One point I have stated previously and am always glad to reiterate is that many people in America fail to distinguish between medical care and health care: the U.S. likely has the best medical training, technology, and physicians (at least, on average, the best trained), but medical care is only one component of health care. Health care incorporates medical care, nursing care, rehabilitation, social work and case management, payment and insurance, drug and biotechnology development, hospital and systems administration, and perhaps most importantly, patient involvement and responsibility. In general, it appears that liberals seem to find fault in everything but patient responsibility, while conservatives find fault in nothing else but patient responsibility.
August 26, 2009 – Blog “Mind, Soul, and Body” – Repost: Medical Care, right or privilege?
One of my fellow bloggers reposted a piece he wrote last year. Although I don’t agree with everything in the post, there was a passage that I felt was particularly meaningful:
There is a certain basic concept that we are beginning to forget in our society, the concept of common wealth. Way back in the days of print media, communities would pool their resources to build a collection of books we call a library. This was because information and education was felt to be mutually beneficial if shared. The poor can only benefit from learning. We all can gain more as a group, enriching the whole, than any of us can individually. This is a way the group can protect resources from individuals who would devour or horde them. It turns out that together we have much more than any of us could ever hope to acquire individually. This is the thinking behind public museums, national parks. These are something different than commodities. They are actual sources of well being. This is our true wealth, and it is shared.
The common wealth of America are habitats, ecosystems, languages, cultures, science, technology, schools, social and political systems, democracy. These are things often so basic we sometimes forget how much we have. They are things we all value together and are well worth fighting for. So is medicine a right, or a commodity dependant on resources and wealth? My answer has to be an unqualified yes, it’s both.
I believe, sincerely in the depths of my soul, our commonwealth has to include medicine. We need to protect it, not exploit it. I doubt any of us could calculate what exactly any of these things would cost on the open market. I think it is safe to say that taken together our common wealth’s value exceeds all we could ever own privately.
August 7, 2009 – Kaiser Family Foundation – Side-By-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals
Finally, if you want to actually be truly informed about the proposals being proposed by various sectors of Congress, here is a consolidation of the information currently available as collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health information group. One thing you will note is that President Barack Obama has not proposed a health care reform plan: in many ways, it is very silly for people to keep referring to a single health care reform proposal as “ObamaCare.” It is definitely a worthy argument that President Obama could, or perhaps should, take a stronger role in directing health care reform, and a few members of Congress have asserted this. On the other hand, there are multiple plans currently being proposed, all of which have various advantages and disadvantages, benefits and flaws. Instead of reading a thousand pages of triple-spaced legal-ese (the Dingell-House Democrat bill H.R. 3200), this table is 44 pages long. A shorter version provides details on the Senate HELP committee and House Tri-committee proposals, the main proposals being debated currently. Educate yourself. “Fight the stupids.” – Maple Street Bookstore Bumper Sticker