There IS no healthcare in the US — and not so much health, either!

There IS no healthcare system in the US.

Now before you get all hot under the collar about what may seem to be hyperbole here, think a moment about the second part of that term: CARE.

What we DO have is Pharmaceutical Care and Insurance Care.

I take “care” here to mean genuine, heartfelt concern, and more than a desire, but a systematic effort to achieve a positive outcome, no matter the obstacles. That is what’s missing in our “healthcare.”

Taken THAT way, we can see the systematic care that actually does abound is to assure and ensure successful diagnoses and treatments for investments and bottom lines. So, THAT’s where the “care” is focused. In our “system.” The rest is secondary.

In a country where the pervasive conservative thinking loves to mock what is considered the “liberal” syndrome of “throwing money at a problem,” it is ironic to see how the tables are reversed when it comes to the Health Biz.  Free-marketeers constantly justify huge profits in medicine, somehow connecting personal wealth generated by for-profit health enterprises as necessary to provide the funding and motivation for applying medical treatment to the population. Mess with the profits, it is plaited by the titans of MegaGlobalHealthCorp, Inc., and no one can expect (or afford, they claim) good care.

The double irony of course is that, even WITH very healthy bottom-lines in the associated health businesses, the level of care given and received in the US by ordinary citizens falls far below that of other industrialized nations, and frankly, far below the expectation of individual patients and their families. The only things the US health “system” has over the other industrialized nations, in fact, are … the soaring cost to the users — and the soaring profits to the owners/operators!

Well, I suppose if you want full disclosure, you should add the soaring numbers of deaths related to non-treatment …

Copious documentation shows a startling lack of treatment, inadequate treatment, treatment denied even in the face of documented symptoms and needs. Why? Because — and this is central here — the “needs” of the providers are first in line in the order of importance. The “caring” is with assuring profit. Healthcare as an all-out effort to achieve wellness and recuperation from illness and ailments, is the industrialized product that is “delivered” to consumer/patients — when warranted or authorized for the “health” of the delivery companies.

As purely business, it’s simple, even brilliant: more patients, more procedures and treatments = more profit. Health Services — Voila: the perfect product! Ya’ never run out, and you can charge whatever the market will bear.

A corollary we should be aware of: This Windfall Machine automatically perceives that any general improvement in the environment, or in decreasing risks and pollutants, or in promoting healthier diets, is bad for the bottom-line! Even if this is only perceived subliminally, it destroys any human-centered model of Health Care, because such a “system” does not benefit when people are well. The premise is upside-down, counter-productive, and… deadly. It’s time, like other societies have done, that we wake up to this terrible flaw in thinking.

Anything which puts a space, hesitation, or barrier, even, between a recognized illness and seeking a solution for it, carves away pieces of Care, and renders it unworthy of the term.

My father ended up in an adult living facility upon undergoing diagnosis for an inoperable brain tumor. His greatest frustration was an inability to express himself verbally, though he tried very hard to do so. This was in the early period of so-called HMO’s (Health Maintenance Organizations), so he was assigned what they called a “primary care physician.”  When, at a visit to that doctor in charge of my father’s care, I asked if he could receive some speech therapy to help his anguished state and to allow him better to communicate his needs, I was told, “If I were to recommend that therapy, the insurance company would accuse me of ‘being too much on the side of the patient’!!”

That this physician felt at all that he was somehow advocating between two poles of judgment and behavior (“for his patients” or “for his employer”)  illustrates a kind of brainwashing performed by the insurance industry on their “hired hands,” the doctors, a fact seminal in the breakdown of  the health system in our nation.

That we have allowed this to happen would be pitiful enough as a society. However, we have not even “allowed” it in the traditional sense. What we have done is permitted and empowered those corporate interests profiting from the health industries, to set the terms, themselves. We have sat by mutely while abdicating our democratic and constitutional rights to be informed fully and to participate in the making of legislation to regulate our society in the form that WE, the citizens, see fit.

Without adequate access to news and information, we as citizens cannot perform this role even if we would be prepared to do so. Elections, the near-sacred process used in democracies to chose our representatives who are charged to legislate for the betterment of our society as WE see it, has become one more ground for investment for those institutions that see “healthcare” as a windfall business with an ever-growing captive market.

Again: More patients, more procedures and treatments = more profit. Legislators that would upset the balance by reducing toxic environments or curtail questionable residues in our food and water may well be whom the majority of Americans want to see in office, but clearly are not the kind of legislators the Health Business would like to see. Therefore a good part of their well-thought-out Business Plan includes “investing” in elections, supporting “friendly” candidates, while funding veritable armies of lobbyists. The recent Supreme Court decision of Citizens United vs. the FEC has now opened the floodgates for corporate-controlled elections for the foreseeable future. Essentially: R.I.P., USA (1776 – 2010).

Unless Americans do something drastic like head to the streets like Egyptians*, we stand little chance to influence, much less participate meaningfully in ANY conversations that define how or whether the US will ever have a true SYSTEM of Health Care that adequately diagnoses and treats all its citizens.

Restoring the right to determine our Health Future to the Citizens must be seen as central to the process of having real national security and a truly functional democracy. The very health of the nation is at stake.

* Note: this was written prior to the appearance and spreading of the Occupy movements.

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