Health Care: Debate or Religion?


Asymptotic Life

Most of us have no idea what options are on the table, yet our minds are made up: we’re going to support “our proposals” against “their proposals.” We don’t know what the proposals are, but we’re certain that theirs are wrong. And this is true on both sides: we’ve already decided, and we don’t want to hear about facts.

It doesn’t make much sense. And that may be the key to this so-called debate: it’s not about opinions, it’s about belief. Viewed in that light, this just may be the closest we’ll come to an American religious conflict in any of our lifetimes.

And it isn’t even about health care, because most people haven’t a clue what the proposed health care plans say, if they in fact say anything yet. Instead, Both sides are spending inordinate amounts of time and energy screaming that the other side is wrong and if allowed to win, will surely mean TEOTWAWKI.

Well, I’m not jumping into the abyss.


  1. The worst of it is the stupidity and outright lies. That is what gets my goat and makes me want to scream. How people can be so stupid as to believe an elderly politician would submit let alone support an death panel clause is beyond me. These same people are on Medicare now. If the government wanted to kill them off – it would be happening now. The other thing is the lies flung around about Nationalized health plans in other countries. I am reading The Healing of America by TR Reid and I want to move to Europe.

  2. Yes, and there are plenty of untruths and half-truths on the other side as well. Many supporters claim proposals will lower health care costs for businesses, but that’s only true for those with payrolls under $250K. That’s about 5 employees in many urban areas, 10 in other areas. Most businesses WILL pay more. And many of the provisions supporters of the bill tout won’t kick in for 5 years or more– e.g. limiting exclusions based on pre-existing conditions. In short, supporters are making promises that just either aren’t true at all, or aren’t true in the time frame they suggest. And they’re obscuring what the true cost will be, which we still have no clear idea about.

    Plus, while health care in the UK isn’t the disaster its opponents claim, neither is it perfect. Some other countries are worse. So why aren’t we having a debate on the MERITS of various systems, instead of a simple thumbs-up-or-down vote?

    This isn’t about health care at all– it’s about the role of government. Proponents want to change that role, and opponents don’t. And the details don’t seem to make much difference to anyone on either side.

  3. I think the camps are divided handily into two groups of people: One group is people that have never had to use their medical insurance (beyond a minor scrape or ear infection), and don’t want to “pay more” for something they see little value in. The other group is people that have had some major medical problem in their life, and have had the for-profit system do what it does best, try (or succeed at) kicking them when they’re down.

    There are lots of lies, on all sides. Will costs go up? Nobody knows until the bills are merged and ready. Will there be “death panels”, I’m betting not. Will it be even remotely like other systems out there, again anyones guess. I’m betting it won’t be a lot different than the VA system, Medicare and/or Medicaid. And while they all have their problems, it beats having nothing when you’re poor, unemployed, underemployed, or self-employed.

    And while there are problems in any system, based on population density, local laws, etc, it’s interesting to note: The US is the only G8 country without a primarily publicly funded healthcare system. The US is also the largest debtor nation on the planet, and 1/5th of the GDP is spent in one form or another on health care, be it services, accounting, insurance, or what have you.

    My personal opinion: There should not be a profit incentive to deny health care to anyone. Our current system has this incentive in spades, and just about anything would be better. Contrary to the call from the right, I don’t think that giving the insurance companies a few more regulations to follow and “4 or 5 more years to straighten up their act” is going to do anything. What they need is real competition from a major player that isn’t about profit margins and multi-million dollar salaries for their CEO and 50 presidents of various departments. Right now the government is the only major player that can fill that role, and I think they should go for it. If they can lean down and compete with that, then good for them. If not, they why are we pouring money into a sub-standard system?

  4. While I agree with your characterization of our system and your proposal, I can’t agree agree with your assessment of the opponents, because in my area most people ARE opposed. Two of my good friends, who can’t afford health insurance, strongly oppose the public option. She was recently misdiagnosed with cancer and treated even though she didn’t have it; she’s now uninsurable. He’s self-employed and not eligible for a group.

    If you talk to them about the existing proposals, you’ll find their opposition to the public plan has more akin to their position on the Second Amendment than it does financial concerns. They’d benefit A LOT financially under the public plan, but it scares the hell out of them. They see it as a slippery slope from which there’s no turning back.

    In a sense, I agree with them, even though I also believe (for the very reasons you state) that it’s a slope we MUST tread. It sets a dangerous precedent for the role of government– a government that is already too big and too abusive. The battles of the next few decades will be about where (and how) to draw the line.

    My first rule of conflict analysis is this: it’s never about what they say it’s about. This debate is no exception. Until we understand what it’s really about, we run the risk of blowing this out of town hall meetings and into the streets.

      • No, it’s not– says Obama the centrist. But when he announced a possible middle ground week before last, neither side jumped on board. Dems seem committed to nothing less than the public option, and GOP abhors it.

        Last night’s speech is being treated (by the media at least) as the end of the bipartisan approach. So much for middle ground.

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