Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tony Snow's Plight Would Be Vastly Worse If He Was An Ordinary, Working-Class American


Let's be clear on something: cancer is a horrible thing. And we wish a speedy recovery for Tony Snow, who is battling colon cancer.

As a wealthy, high-profile public figure, Snow can expect the most advanced, cutting-edge, world-class medical care for his condition in the coming years. As the White House Press Secretary, he can expect the best treatment and the best doctors that money can buy.

If you want the nation's best health care, it also helps greatly if you're famous like Snow. After all, no HMO is going to jerk you around on paying your medical bills if you're in the national spotlight and on a first-name basis with the president of the United States.

But as a nation offers its sympathies and prayers to Snow, it's important to note that Snow's plight---as serious as it is---would be much worse if he were an ordinary working-class American.

Dealing with a catastrophic medical condition is hell. But it's even worse when you're not rich and the sky-high medical bills starting pouring into your mailbox.

Doctors always emphasize that, when one is recovering from cancer, it's important to be as optimistic as possible and to maintain a positive mental outlook.

That's a tall order for the millions of ordinary working-class Americans who not only face the challenge of dealing with a medical crisis--but also the nightmare of facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that will hang over their heads like a dark cloud for the rest of their lives.

Snow faces a serious challenge in the coming years. But I'd suspect that one thing he won't have to worry about is paying his medical bills. After all, Snow earns $165,200 as the White House press secretary. That's a vastly higher salary than the average American earns. And Snow previously made $1.75 million yearly as a Fox News anchor.

Let's face it: when you're rich and famous in America, you get the best medical care. You get to see the best doctors. You get to stay at the best hospitals.

Europeans believe that health care is a basic human right. But in America, the health care you get is directly tied into how much money you have.

These days, the number of Americans with no health-care insurance is soaring, with no end in sight. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that the number of uninsured Americans rose by 1.3 million to a record 46.6 million, including over 400,000 children.

While the crisis of the uninsured gets the most media attention, it's important to remember that tens of millions of Americans have health insurance and still face huge obstacles in getting the medical treatment they need.

I have a friend whose wife developed breast cancer a decade ago. Both husband and wife worked full-time and paid thousands of dollars yearly for HMO medical coverage.

The problem is that the HMO didn't pay all their staggering medical bills. And my friend and his wife were socked with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that plunged them deeply into a debt hole that they have yet to climb out of a decade later.

I'd suspect that hundreds of thousands of Americans go through a similar hell every year. And bear in mind: we're not talking about the uninsured---we're talking about Americans who have health-care coverage.

So while a nation offers its "get well soon" wishes to Tony Snow, let's also spare a thought for the millions of working-class Americans who struggle every year to get the medical treatment they need from heartless HMOs that are more concerned about maximizing profits than offering health care.

America's broken health-care system is in an ongoing crisis that the Republicans (including Snow himself) have long turned an indifferent, cold shoulder to, in their zeal for putting profits over people.


Anonymous said...

The ball is always in the court of the HMOs. Since they're in the business of dealing with sick people, they know that, if they can just drag cases out (or tie them up in the court system) eventually, their customers will die. So HMOs actually get rewarded for crappy service and denying (or delaying) medical payment claims.

Anonymous said...

Even corporate America is starting to complain about the broken U.S. health care system, saying that it hurts their global competitiveness.

Capatain Conservative said...

What a great posting! The author has precisely identified the over-riding problem with our country: we do not have enough rich people. When we wake up and realize the federal government is the least efficient way to address our own personal responsibilities such as buying our own health insurance, we will be moving toward a better lifestyle for each of us individually.

I am sure the author was only one tiny step away from pointing out that half of our incomes go to pay taxes which get sucked into a giant grinding machine of the inefficiency that is the federal government. And what do we get? Very little. How much more could we gain in personal services if we only paid less in taxes???

So great job. That is the way to demonstrate we should be screaming "that's not what government's for!!!" The federal government was intended from its inception to only perform the necessary functions that are so enormous in scale that even large state governments are overwhelmed such as defense, space exploration and some infrastructure that is shared among states.

If operated according to the constitution, the federal government would be very small indeed. It would not be operated as a forced charity. Individuals would not be imprisioned for not agreeing with every bleeding heart cause. Art would not cease to be created because of the lack of a government mandated funding.

States and local governments have to take responsibility for caring for the needs of individuals. Somes will balance the needs and the resources better than others. Those who compete well will have more residents than those that are poorly run. There will be regional differences based on regional preferences. Louisiana and New York for instance will see populations wither once they are required to fund their own state supported welfare. Conservative midwestern states will get by on less state aid, and their hard working populations will benefit immensely over time as a result of keeping more of what they produce.

More people will get rich and will get stellar health care based on what they can afford once the government gets out of the way and lets the machinery of capatailism run unimpeded.

Many thanks to the author for pointing out thse truths. The moral we can once again take from his little story: work hard, increase your value to employers by adding to your skill set (go to school)save, be a conservative, and you will live a longer healthier life.

What a great message!

Marc McDonald said...

The previous poster is just throwing out a lot of (long-discredited) Rush Limbaugh talking points. Indeed, like Rush, he doesn't talk so much about the way the world actually is, but rather the way (he believes) it ought to be. I find it interesting that Rush once wrote a book called, "The Way Things Ought To Be."

I keep an open mind on every issue. But what seals the deal for me on supporting a single-payer European health-care system are the following basic facts:

1. The European nations, and Japan, have healthier populations as a whole than the U.S., as demonstrated by numerous yardsticks. For example, average life expectancy is higher in the Euro nations and infant mortality is much lower than the U.S. The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of any major nation.
2. The Euro nations and Japan all spend vastly LESS on health care than does the U.S. In fact, as a percentage of GNP, they spend less than half of what the U.S. spends. So much for the "efficiency" of the private sector in health-care.
3. So, although the Europeans and Japanese spend vastly less than the U.S. on health care, they live longer, healthier lives.

However, in a way, I hope that Captain Conservative and his Republican friends continue to peddle their notion that leaving us all in the hands of greedy, ruthless HMOs is the way to go. Such a philosophy is going to continue to severely tarnish the appeal of the GOP for most voters.

Polls have consistently shown that a large majority of the American people WANT the U.S. government to step in and get involved and provide universal health-care. You Cons can talk all you want about "what the purpose of the government is" but the FACT is, the government works for us: the American people. People like Bush have forgotten that concept (as they spend all their time doing nothing but favors for their billionaire buddies with our tax dollars).

As usual, the Republicans are out of touch with what the American people want---and as a result, they have no chance in 2008. Americans are sick and tired of the socialism-for-the-rich that the modern-day GOP represents. Indeed, if this nation continues down the path it has been following the past quarter century, then it is inevitable that a people's revolution will be on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

To Captain Conservative:

America, and much of the rest of the world, already tried for a long time the free-market, no-welfare-state, minimal-regulation route that you apparently want us to go back to, circa 1890, and for decades before and after. Actually, this encompasses very much of our history. The average life expectancy was less than 50. If you were hit with really, really hard times, there were these things run by counties called "the poorhouse" where people would go to die of consumption while they worked as much as they could on the county farms and slept on hardscrabble bunks. Read a book, ostensibly a novel, but actually journalism of the time, The Jungle (1906), by Upton Sinclair, that describes the Chicago stockyards. People worked in animal shit and blood to deliver septic sausage to the innocent U.S. breakfaster, for subsistence wages -- that is, if they were lucky. If they got hurt, well hey, it's a hard life. No workers comp back then. To the streets they went, arm casts and all. If they couldn't figure out a way to eat -- tough shit, boy. You shoulda gone to the college of your choice, Yale or the like. Even City College might have done; you could get a clerk's job, Jurgis (character in The Jungle).

So yeah, let's go back to that small government, with no OSHA, no workers comp, no nothing for the hapless schmuck who gets exploited and hurt. It's funny -- it was back in those days that the idea of communism actually started to gain popularity. It is often said that history repeats itself. Personally, I don't want to do Stalin and Mao all over again. Do you?

Anonymous said...

Well..he worked hard for his money and he's going to get the benefits of his labor - which includes better health care.