What Would National Health Coverage in the U.S. Look Like?

Have you wondered what a National Health Coverage plan in this country would look like?

Everyone says that Canada has a great plan. Perhaps they do, but then even great plans have bad sides to them. I posted an article on August 22nd about Canada’s Plan that I found over on the Junkfood Science blog.

The UK has National Health Services for all its citizens also. I posted about it last on August 18th again from an article found on the Junkfood Science blog.

What you don’t hear about when the Canadian and British health coverage plans are talked about is the cost. You don’t hear the high taxes the citizens, or rather the working citizens pay to cover this for everyone.

What you hear today is everyone complaining about their health insurance premiums going up because of people who smoke or drink or are fat. The August 18th article was about the UK looking to cut back on health care expenditures by rationing out its health care. In other words, if you have a habit that they don’t like, you won’t get your surgery or could be denied health care. Sounds like a real good plan to me…………….NOT!

Junkfood Science covered Medicare health coverage today and an Oregon State health plan. It isn’t a real pretty picture. I understand the angle Sandy was coming from, but feel she also left out part of it.

Considering the value of life… medical ethical issues at the beginning, middle and end of life

This summer, the public learned of a 64-year old woman, living in a low-income apartment and covered by Medicaid under the Oregon Health Plan, who was denied coverage for chemotherapy prescribed by her oncologist for her lung cancer, but she was offered state-assisted suicide as a “palliative or comfort care measure.”

“Treatment of advanced cancer that is meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not a covered benefit of the Oregon Health Plan,” read the letter from the state’s healthplan notifying her of its decision. Dr. Walter Shaffer, medical director of the state Division of Medical Assistance Programs, which administers the Oregon Health Plan, defended the decision, saying: “We can’t cover everything for everyone. We try to come up with polices that provide the most good for the most people.” As the Register-Guard reported, when the Oregon Health Plan was established in 1994, it was expressly intended to ration health care and a prioritization list was drawn up, with diagnoses and ailments deemed most important placed at the top of the list.

You can read the FULL STORY here.

I can’t say that I heard about this story mentioned here, and of course can’t really form an opinion one way or the other. BUT based on what Sandy has written in this article I found myself with mixed feelings.

First and foremost though, you have to wonder about coverage that was “expressly intended to ration health care”. I mean really, who gets to decide whose life is more valuable or expendable than anothers? I know some will state that since the patient is on a government (meaning taxpayer) funded health insurance plan that the state should be responsible about coverage expenses. But you really have to wonder about a plan that covers assisted suicide but NOT cancer treatment. To me that’s about as sensible as health coverage that doesn’t cover birth control but does cover Viagra (and abortion)! Interesting how the number one cause of pregnancy is covered, but NOT a way to prevent the pregnancy to start with. The logic escapes me.

The other angle about this Oregon plan is:

The rationing of care that inevitably follows when a third party controls the purse strings forces us to confront the rawest of medical ethical decisions. This story wasn’t about a person deciding to end her life and seeking physician-assisted suicide, this is about a state government agency informing someone who wants treatment that her only option is to kill herself. Colorado Right equated it to the state “getting rid of those it finds useless.” However, even while such patients may not seek physician-assisted suicide, do they die sooner as a result of being denied additional treatment?

This is so very true and absolutely reeks of Hitler’s Eugenics practices.

I have nothing against “physician-assisted suicide”, and congratulate Oregon for recognizing that terminally ill people be allowed to choose a quick, painless death with dignity over a long, drawn out, usually pain/ill/drug-filled extra year or two or three. I also feel that this is a very personal choice someone with a terminal illness and no quality of life because of it, makes for themselves privately; like abortion. I see nothing wrong with a state allowing this. What I do find offensive is a state that will cover my decision to die with dignity but NOT my decision to fight the disease because it deems me too old, or the treatment too expensive! It is the whole concept of rationing health care (which ALL are entitled to) while providing the alternative (that all will meet eventually anyway).

Not everyone wishes to die when they know it is hopeless…….for they still cling to a thread of hope (and they have every right to), and those people should not be denied that hope or chance just because someone or the taxpayers feel the treatment is too expensive.

I happen to think that were I that ill and going to die anyway, then another year or two in pain or on drugs just isn’t worth it and I’d just as soon be allowed to die peacefully in my sleep, than to prolong the inevitable. But that is MY personal feeling for myself. I don’t prescribe that everyone feel that way (even if I can’t understand why they don’t).

However, history does repeat itself and the practice of eugenics might be making a comeback again. We usually think of Nazi Germany when the word is mentioned, but they were not the only ones practicing it…………they were just the most horrifically open about it.

Once again though, these days the U.S. and the UK are openly suggesting just these things. If you look into the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, you’ll notice some similarity to things being suggested, instituted and practiced today…..all under the guise of “preventing death” (as IF that were even remotely possible?) or “saving the children”.

Just look at the various ‘health’ stories about “newborn screenings“, testing children as young as 10 years old for high cholesterol levels, etc. Wonder how long until they make mandatory abortion of diseased/defective fetuses mandatory; or even mandatory sterilization of anyone who shows any genetic inclination to not having the ‘perfect’ child.

Back to Sandy’s posting on Junkfood Science:

Government-mandated education on ending life

But medical professionals can also face other ethical conflicts when preserving life and relieving suffering. Is it morally ethical at the very moment when a patient is at their most vulnerable —in pain, impaired or emotionally devastated by just learning news of a terminal diagnosis — to suggest death as an answer?

Last week, legislation passed the Assembly in California and awaiting Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature to become law doesn’t just legalize physician-assisted suicide, many believe it encourages terminal patients towards suicide. AB 2747 mandates that medical professionals give any patient newly diagnosed with a terminal illness or with a prognosis of one year to live, information normally reserved for those whose death is imminent.

This brings up two feelings in me. One is “good – some people can choose to die and not prolong their pain”; and the other is wondering why a law is needed.

Why not simply “de-criminalize” physician assisted suicide in terminal cases and let the people know that they CAN ask their doctor about this IF they want to? Why make it mandatory for all doctors to offer the option to all newly diagnosed terminal patients? Most people with so-called terminal diseases do tend to live longer than a year or so after diagnosis, longer perhaps with treatment that works, so why shove the option of dying in their faces until other options have been tried? Why not just leave it up to the patient to ask the doctor about this when and if they decide to? We don’t offer abortions to women who find out they are pregnant, we let the woman decide for herself and then ask her doctor about that. This California law is totally unnecessary and with all the other issues facing California today, you’d think they’d have more important things to worry about instead of forcing all doctors to tell all terminal patients how they can choose to die. Then again, considering California’s financial instability right now, perhaps they hope more people will opt for PAS versus treatment?

Screening out undesirable characteristics

But medical professionals today also risk being placed into positions that may cross their personal ethics in other ways where eugenics is creeping into medicine.

I strongly recommend you read Sandy’s posting about this for it is very informative and eye-opening.

It is also a good look into what happens when you put your health care choices into the hands of the government. Do you really want someone else deciding if you are too sick or old to be medically treated? Do you really want someone else deciding that you should utilize physician assisted suicide because their tax dollars have to pay for your health care? Because that is exactly what a National Plan will come down to, maybe not immediately but it will morph into this in short order as health care expenditures rise (and they will).

In the end it boils down to “who can really say whose life is more valuable?

Note to Sandy at JFS….I do hope you can forgive me for using more than 2 paragraphs but I needed to do this to cover the different angles you brought up in your posting.

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~ by swfreedomlover on September 9, 2008.

2 Responses to “What Would National Health Coverage in the U.S. Look Like?”

  1. I think it might be helpful to present the side of those who do feel that a national healthcare system could work to the benefit of all…speaking as a Canadian, while no system is perfect, I’ve had the chance to compare the 2 systems and can say that I prefer Canada’s healthcare plan. As a low-middle income earner, the monthly cost of private insurance and co-payments in the US are waaaay more expensive and limiting than the cost in annual taxes in Canada. And I never had a problem getting access to a doctor or treatment when needed. Here’s a link to an article written by the Chair of the Canadian Doctors fighting to keep the nation covered, who just also happened to be my doctor in Canada: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=5c5bea0c-a9ca-4b48-940b-59b67956407c&p=1

  2. and a more recent comment since the Canadian Medical Association met can be found here:

    http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/484083

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