During the debate for the Affordable Care Act, Lou Dobbs, while he was still at CNN, featured a series of stories on healthcare around the world. While conservative news outlets offered non-stop stories regarding Britain's awful NHS, Dobbs regaled us with narratives concerning Switzerland, Japan, and other Western countries. Switzerland's healthcare system is a multi-step one, offering basic and emergency care for everyone and optional plans for those who need more coverage. Swiss hospitals never have to worry about turning someone away who might die without treatment.
Of course, Switzerland thoroughly examined all medical conditions, placing some in the basic category and the remainder in optional categories. Sarah Palin said at the time that this sort of categorization was tantamount to "death panels," though she's apparently okay with people dying for lack of coverage.
This is the type of plan we should have chosen. And still can choose.
Republicans have always declared that the ACA was an affront to freedom, just another step on the road to socialism, but these people live in a fantasyland of their own making. Many of them believe that motorcycle riders should be allowed to ride without wearing helmets, yet riders who also decry mandatory medical coverage somehow never wear dog tags with the message, "I'm a libertarian; please leave me by the roadside to die."
Republicans are doubling-down with the odious H.R. 1313, which would allow corporations to extort their employees to accept genetic testing via the wellness program loophole already existing in the ACA. Layoffs would be the vehicle for reducing costs, banishing people destined to develop genetic diseases, similar to how layoffs today always manage to include mostly those over 40 and especially over 50.
The U.S. Congressional Budget Office forecast that 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 if the Republican alternative to the ACA was adopted. But that's only the start, because many of those people would not be able to treat communicable diseases. The Census Bureau projects that the population of the U.S. will be just under 350 million by 2026, making the number of uninsured people about 15% of the total.
The CBO is simply wrong, however, in its estimate of the number of uninsured after a repeal of the ACA, significantly lowballing the number. It assumes that insurance companies will not revert to their old practice of denying those with preexisting conditions, but capitalism would reign supreme once again. The situation would be much worse than before the ACA because insurance companies would know which customers were likely to cost them more than the average.
Only someone who has been forced to live without medical insurance understands the reality. Prescriptions often cost ten times more. Doctors, labs, clinics, and surgery centers charge the full retail price. It's an à la carte nightmare.
But why should you care? The trivialities of the unwashed are not your concern.
There are many reasons, but the best one is drug resistant TB. According to the CDC: "TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected ... Drug-resistant TB is caused by TB bacteria that are resistant to at least one first-line anti-TB drug. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB is resistant to more than one anti-TB drug and at least isoniazid (INH) and rifampin (RIF). Extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB is a rare type of MDR TB that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (i.e., amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin)."
The CDC stated with a good deal of understatement that "treating and curing drug-resistant TB is complicated." And the people most likely to have TB are the poor, the same ones who likely won't have healthcare coverage if the social Darwinists have their way with us.
A number of years ago I traveled home via a commercial airline. One self-important man sitting in first class was the sickest I have ever seen, violently sneezing and coughing every few minutes. Not surprisingly, a few days later I became very sick as well, even though I never went near him. Recirculated air and all that. Or maybe it was the hardware he touched, with us touching it later. The first class passenger, like the Americans who returned home with Ebola, shouldn't have traveled. But they did.
Next time you ride an airplane, subway, bus, or light rail, look around you and estimate how many of your fellow riders would fall into the 15%.