Well… I will cut it straight. This talk had nothing to do with healthcare. In fact, it had so little to do with healthcare that I was mildly angered. Bernard Harris started his talk by saying, “I know it says I came here to talk about healthcare, but I know you guys don’t want to hear about that.” … OF COURSE WE DO! That’s why we paid him to come here. Bernard Harris talked about being an astronaut for about a half an hour. He then discussed future technologies of how we can bring down the cost of healthcare. And that was it. I was stunned. I was not engaged in any sort of mental stimulation or deep thought about human rights.
Universal Healthcare is still a topic that I am on the fence about. While people deserve a right to being healthy isn’t there an expectation under a universal plan that a person does what they can to be healthy. We talk in this country all the time about “abusing the system.” Under Universal Healthcare wouldn’t being obese or smoking cigarettes suddenly become an abuse of the system and a voiding of an individual’s right to health. When you are delivered your Miranda rights you are told that you have the right to remain silent, but as soon as you talk you have voided that right. Should we treat healthcare the same way? If you smoke a cigar at graduation that isn’t a big deal, but a two pack-per-day-smoker maybe doesn’t deserve healthcare. When this law goes into place and people see a smoker getting the lung transplant over the non-smoker the proverbial shit will hit the fan.
Another reason I am skeptical of Universal Healthcare is that I have no clue how the system is supposed to suddenly deal with an influx of millions of new patients. Every time I mention this the counterargument typically looks like this: “Well now that these people are insured they are less afraid to go to the doctor for early symptoms and the system actually ends up spending less money in the long run because we have fewer people in the ER with severe illnesses.” I admit this idea seems logical and even very likely, but that still does not answer the question of how our medical infrastructure is supposed to handle millions more people. Do we have enough doctors? If we do, are they in the correct fields? Do we have enough equipment? Do we have enough hospitals and doctors’ offices?
These questions segue nicely into my final concern: rationing. During the afternoon discussion with Harris he talked about rationing. In fact, he said it was inevitable. He stated this as if it was no big deal. To me, rationing is the biggest concern. If I need a heart transplant I do NOT want to be told, “Sorry. You don’t get one.” Rationing is the kind of thing that sounds fine until it affects me. I, for one, do not want to be a part of a healthcare ration. Maybe that’s selfish, but right now I have good enough insurance to get a heart transplant and I don’t want to lose that right. That last word in that sentence is “right.” I (or rather my parents, currently) pay enough so that we deserve good healthcare. Won’t people who are paying for insurance currently, lose their right to good healthcare in the ration system envisioned by Bernard Harris? I think so.
I believe Universal Healthcare can be enacted correctly if we use smart legislation, health incentives, and really good science. I do not want to lose what I have, so any system that is attempting to change the healthcare system better not be changing my healthcare for the worse. Call it selfish. Call in greedy. But at the end of the day are you alright losing your health or your life for the good of a new healthcare system?