At some point we Americans decided, if only tacitly, that it is okay to profit on the treatment and healing of the sick in our country, and not just a little, but grossly. The reason healthcare costs so much in America is simple: nearly every industry involved in its delivery is raking in the dough. This might not seem so bad if we ignore that the ultimate source of their top-tier prosperity is actual people who were unfortunate enough to get cancer, or some other terrible malady.

Americans have been bread to believe that healthcare is no different from shoes, video games, and bananas, and should therefore be governed by the same forces of market Capitalism, i.e. the quest for profit. A glaring difference, though, is that unlike the later, the healthcare industry caters to a hostage market. The sick or ailing must have what healthcare provides to avoid actual suffering or death, and often, their treatment options are quite limited. That's a lot different than the suffering that comes from not having the latest iPhone, or choosing oranges instead of bananas due to price.

Since this market of infirm is typically desperate for what a hospital, physician, drug company, or machine manufacturer can provide, (often as the sole, patent-protected provider) these providers can charge as much as they like, and they are liking more and more. If you or someone close to you has ever been treated for cancer, then you know that it is financially out of reach without health insurance, and far from cheap even with it. The latest Hep C drug emerged at as high as $94,500 for 12 to 24 pills, all to keep the investor class on the golf courses or on hunting trips with fine scotch in their glasses.

Our healthcare costs will never come down significantly unless and until we say to everyone involved, "you just can't charge that much in the treatment of the sick. It's immoral, and most of them can’t afford it." Fortunately or otherwise, there already exists a democratic entity with the authority to do just that. It’s called the United States government. Only government can regulate the unchecked greed of the richest industries. Capitalism, an engine for which greed and ambition are its rocket fuel, does not self-regulate when it comes to either. To the contrary, Capitalism just burns this fuel faster and faster until it reaches its malignant, or harm-causing state in the society. We are experiencing this now in our current healthcare predicament, and have been long before Obamacare.

Only well-regulated Capitalism can serve the majority without eventually concentrating wealth and power into the hands of a very small minority. The Parker Brothers game Monopoly was invented to show just that. Yet I doubt that America is to be free of Capitalism any sooner that it is the glut of assault rifles across its land. If Capitalism is to be ever pounding at healthcare’s gates, it is perhaps there more than anywhere that we need Federal protections in place that at least guarantee that neither you nor I, nor any fellow American will ever go broke and become strapped with crushing debt because somebody in their family got sick. I think that Canada’s single-payer system of national healthcare for all its citizens from birth to death is a huge step in this direction and worthy of our immediate adoption.

I don't mind anyone making a living in the healing arts, but I have a big problem when they make a killing off the dying.


American Healthcare and its Broke Hostages


zapdam.'s picture
zapdam. 1 year 7 weeks ago


Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us |

Steven Brill
Feb. 20, 2013

1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last
March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she
had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s
father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family
credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by
at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small
technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health
insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been
able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital
costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at
MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s
visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be
devised — would be $48,900, due in advance. Stephanie got her mother to
write her a check. “You do anything you can in a situation like
that,” she says. The Recchis flew to Houston, leaving
Stephanie’s mother to care for their two teenage children.

About a week later, Stephanie had to ask her mother for $35,000 more so Sean could begin the treatment the doctors had
decided was urgent. His condition had worsened rapidly since he had arrived in Houston. He was “sweating and shaking
with chills and pains,” Stephanie recalls. “He had a large mass in his chest that was ... growing. He was panicked.”

Nonetheless, Sean was held for about 90 minutes in a reception area, she says, because the hospital could not confirm that
the check had cleared. Sean was allowed to see the doctor only after he advanced MD Anderson $7,500 from his credit card.
The hospital says there was nothing unusual about how Sean was kept waiting.

Alberto Ceras 2's picture
Alberto Ceras 2 1 year 7 weeks ago

But surely, zapdam, the u.S. can't be expected to stop spending billions killing people just to give the hoi polloi decent health care? If the make america great again u.S. didn't sponsor and bankroll indiscrimate killing (of others) who would do it? It's a tough job requiring firm resolve and lots of money. Why, those dead babies, their dead sisters and brothers, might have grown up to become indigent refugees seeking to crash the u.S.' sacred borders.

BenDorigan's picture
BenDorigan 1 year 7 weeks ago

It apears based on the above tale that the hippocratic oath is all but crushed out of existence by the demands of money. We have a sickness in this country: Irrational Conservatism. Symptoms: dogmatic adherence to anything that helps anyone other than themselves, fear that the government is coming any minute to take their guns and their liberty, irrational belief in a God who loves them and wants everyone else dead, certainty that anyone with skin color different than theirs must be up to no good, a deep and abiding hatred of liberals.

I have no idea how to treat this disease. I doubt it's covered by most insurance.

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