On the subject of whether universal healthcare is better for fat people than the system we currently have, here are a couple of comments about fat and universal healthcare I thought especially illuminating. One is from deannacorbeil, who left it on my About page because I closed the comments for the other post The others are from richie79 and osxgirl, commenting on a recent blog post on Big Fat Blog.
I thought I’d write you here, as you’ve closed comments on your post on libertarianism and obesity and health care. As a nurse who’s been working in this American system of ours for almost a quarter century (damn! how did I get this old?), this is obviously a topic of interest to me. I continue to be perplexed at those who think that socialized medicine might somehow a) be free (that one always cracks me up) b) improve the quality of care and c) be fairer to those of us who, ahem, don’t “fit” into the prevailing weight standards of today.
I thought you might want to post some of the following links sometime about the problems with socialized medicine. Most of them are from the CATO institute. (I’m certain some will discard any of the info on that fact alone, since it is a libertarian think tank.)
and the more detailed policy analysis–Health Care in a Free Society: Rebutting the Myths of National Health Insurance
2. The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World (This is a pretty recent, quite long and detailed policy analysis—definitely worth reading.)
I heard one of the congressman here in Michigan (Rep. Dingell) being interviewed about this topic last week. He flat out denied that there was any sort of problem with waiting periods for procedures/tests in Canada, and then stated that things were so expensive here because we just had too many CAT Scan and MRI machines!!! Damn those machines, anyway! And people think they want these idiots in charge of our health system.
Sorry if this was too long….
It wasn’t too long at all, and I think it provides an insider perspective that can be sorely lacking in some comments which blindly promote universal healthcare under the assumption that all the various abuses of the current system would magically disappear or at the very least, dissipate.
richie79, a UK citizen and close observer of the NHS policies (Britain’s universal healthcare system), begs to differ with this fantasy:
The healthcare system in the US is totally broken and our only hope is to adopt a universal care model under which all US citizens — regardless of health, age, employment, etc. — will have access to care
Oh don’t you believe it. Whilst I fundamentally believe in universal state-provided healthcare free at the point of use, the fact remains that in the UK we do have such a system (falling apart though it may be due to a population which demands European public services for US levels of taxation) and far from easing the problems of discrimination and resentment against fat people it actually amplifies them – and throws up a whole host of new ones.
The recent shift toward public health promotion and preventative medicine means that there is far more propaganda in the guise of ‘advice’ being peddled through the media, most of it from ‘respectable’ Government sources. And because the NHS at central level is a single monolitic entity with a Cabinet Minister in charge, it’s also much easier for the frankly huge number of single-issue pressure groups, misguided charities and self-styled ‘obesity experts’ to force their frequently extreme views on tackling the ‘obesity timebomb’ onto the Government.
But most importantly, because everyone pays into the system and given the way in which it’s been starved of funding over the years, there’s an increasing sense of public and media bitterness toward anyone who are accused of taking more than their fair share – smokers, drinkers and fat people.
The fact that supposedly respectable news outlets and professional organisations such as the BBC and the British Medical Journal are now blaming fat people for the resourcing crisis within the NHS is keeping the issue pinned to the top of the health agenda.
The NHS is being used as a stick with which to beat anyone who is considered not to be paying adequate attention to their health back into line, and there have even been proposals advanced to deny fat people treatment for conditions related and unrelated to their size, on the grounds that these are ‘self-inflicted’.
With socialised healthcare you add the concepts of fairness and social responsibility to the anti-fat brigade’s arsenal of weapons, and that can’t possibly be a good thing.
Right on, richie!
…socialized medicine WON’T fix this problem. In fact, I think in many ways, it will make it worse.
Why do I say this? Well, under socialized medicine, the IDEAL is that everyone gets to go to the doctor, no matter what. And that’s true, sort of. The problem is, in order to control costs, a rationing of supply inevitably occurs. And how do “they” decide how to ration the supply?
I contend that a lot of the rationing will be done based on how morally “deserving” you are of treatment. Accident victims get first priority. People who have diseases get higher priority. Low-ranking will be people with lung and liver cancer (alcoholics and smokers), people with drug-addict-related conditions, and fat people in general. Because, after all, we all did that to ourselves, according to “them”.
It’s what’s happening with insurance now. The reason insurance companies do it is to reduce costs. Government has NEVER been able to do anything cheaper than the private sector. So socialized medicine will be more costly than it is under the current scheme of private insurance managed by the government. (Medicare and Medicaid only come in cheaper because government mandates the prices as cheaper than the market, which is why so many doctors and hospitals will refuse Medicare/Medicaid patients when possible. When there is no market to subsidize the government anymore, the government will have to find ways to reduce costs.)
Given the current popular thinking, what do you think the government means of reducing health care costs will be? I think it will be exactly what we are seeing – set up a system where a certain amount of “blame” for the state of a person’s health is assigned to each person, and that amount of blame will determine the level of care the person receives. It won’t be stated that way, but it’s what it will boil down to.
Even then, assume the system was instituted in an ideal manner. The inherent prejudices of the doctors would not go away. I don’t think fat people would get any better care than they currently get. In fact, I think it would be worse. At least now, if I go to a doctor and that doctor won’t treat me because all he can say is “You’re fat,” I can realize he’s an idiot, and go find another doctor. Under socialized medicine, I would no longer have that choice. How am I going to shop around for help when my entry into the system insists there is no problem that weight loss wouldn’t cure, and refuses to give me a referral to a new doctor? And there’s a waiting list to even get in to see a doctor, and I’m not allowed to just pick a doctor..perhaps I’m even assigned one.
Believe me, I’m no fan of our current health care system, or of the health insurance system as it stands. But socialized health care scares me far more. ESPECIALLY as a fat person!
I also wanted to link to my Universal Healthcare category, that has several other posts where I describe in detail my position on universal healthcare and fat (so I don’t have to always repeat myself in the comments!).
I want to keep these comments open, and in order to do that and fit everything into my busy schedule I’m not sure if I’ll be able to reply to comments on this as readily as the last one. Just a head’s up!