The concept of care seems to have been lost in the heated debate on health care reform. While politicians argued over inclusion of a public option and tossed around the notion of death panels like a verbal hand grenade, somehow the issue of how to care for the nation’s sick and needy was forgotten.
If you expected the insurance industry to be taken to task for its part in the sky-rocketing expense of American health care, you were doubtless let down by the course of the conversation in Washington. If you were waiting for an outcry against the transgressions committed in the quest for profit by HMOs, you were sorely disappointed too.
While conservatives launched a campaign of scare tactics and in their convoluted logic managed to equate universal care with some twisted strain of fascist socialism, the subject of compassion never came up. Democrats scored a pale victory by compromising ideals, leaving us with a watered down plan that looks as insubstantial as a mail-in medical diploma.
Anyone who has ever had to battle an HMO for even the most basic care, or found themselves faced with choosing between paying another insurance premium or putting food on the table, can’t feel much reassurance from the direction of this health care reform. If anything, this plan seems to be a shot in the arm for the insurance industry rather than a plan to provide even barebones care for all Americans.
As Congress argued how to save federal dollars by cutting back coverage, reneging on the promise of universal health care, the war mongering continued unabated. Those without any health care coverage at all can only dream of the kind of guaranteed care enjoyed by the legislators gambling with our lives. In fact, those without health insurance can only dream of the access to medical care enjoyed by our military and even by the millions in our nation’s prisons.
How can we arm ourselves for this revolution in health care? Prevention has got to be the primary focus of healthcare going forward. Preventable medical issues account for far too great a portion of total health expenses. Knowledge and education, accountability and responsible behavior are also key. Ignorance is dangerous and potentially fatal when it comes to health care.
The internet can actually be a lifesaver in terms of providing free and available access to basic diagnostic information. More than a few lives have probably been saved by sites like WebMD – I know that it enabled me to accurately diagnose my daughter’s appendicitis by inputting her symptoms. As a result, she received prompt treatment, and I was able to expedite the emergency room process by providing the appropriate information.
All Americans will need to become more proactive and assume more responsibility for our own physical well-being once this health care reform is implemented. Cutting out needless expense and waste in the medical industry is going to take the efforts of an entire nation. We stand at the precipice of a new day in health care for the U.S., a revolution that has been years in the making, and which has failed in every previous incarnation. An administration elected on the promise of real change now has the chance to deliver that change in an area that will affect every American.