Health Care Plans Look Like Subsidies to Insurers

It seems only natural to me that if people get sick, they should receive the care they need even if they have no money. In olden times, monks and nuns provided that kind of care. Later, missionaries of various faiths answered the call. Then, in most developed nations, governments stepped in.

Growing up in Jamaica, I remember there were public hospitals where poor people could get care. As I remember, they were crowded and run-down, but they provided the best care they could under the circumstances. Those of us who could afford to pay were assured of better treatment, but even so the hospitals were subsidized by churches and the doctors tended to price their services according to patients’ ability to pay.

America has lagged behind in this regard. In America sickness has become a resource to be exploited for economic gain. Instead of focusing on care for the ailing, the medical industry in America focuses on profits for investors. The result has been horrific. As in most for-profit industries, abuses have proliferated.

I don’t think it would be true to say the sick are left to die if they have no money. An abstruse and complicated welfare system mandates care to the indigent. If someone who has no money goes to the emergency room of a hospital, it is my understanding that the hospital is obligated under the law to provide care. I was told recently that a hospital in Lakeland, Florida, where I live, provides free care for some 15 per cent of its patients.

But if you have any resources, a home for example, you don’t qualify for this free care. The hospital can sue you and force you into bankruptcy. At least, that’s what I understand. If you have information on this, I would like to hear from you.

Now, various candidates for the presidency of the United States are proposing health care plans. Yet it seems to me that none of these plans would provide free care for the sick regardless of income. The plans that I have heard described on television boil down to subsidies for insurance companies. Hillary Clinton’s plan would go so far as to force all Americans under the law to buy insurance. Imagine that! Buy insurance or pay a fine! The insurance companies must be salivating over this plan.

Barack Obama’s plan would provide tax credits to those who couldn’t afford to pay health insurance premiums. I am not sure how this would work. It sounds extremely complicated. As for the Republican candidates, I have no idea how they would make health care “affordable.” From what I’ve heard so far, it has something to do with lowering taxes, especially for big corporations and millionaires.

Now that John Edwards has given up his run for the presidency, none of the candidates is proposing a simple health care plan that would bypass the insurance companies and serve the sick. I can only surmise that the insurance companies are so powerful none of the candidates would dare to suggest bypassing them.

How sad it is that we live in a country where special interests are so mighty that even the tiniest steps toward a decent society must be accompanied by bribes to powerful parasites.