While Europe and other developed countries enjoy free and ready access to healthcare and no danger of losing their home should they be taken ill, America continues to suffer a system of indifference, abuse and exploitation by the medical industrial complex. Here it is profits over people. Included in the winners circle are hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and legions of managerial people whose only job is insuring high profitability in the system. Wall Street investors bask in the Florida sun counting their dividends. The losers are you and I, anyone who’s sick or ever will be sick. It’s a national disgrace.

Obama’s healthcare bill amounts to changing around the deck chairs on the Titanic. Yet even those meager gains took blood and guts to accomplish, sparring with the mighty forces of healthcare profiteers. Oddly, at his first East Room gathering in the spring of 2009, advertised as a “gathering of the stakeholders,” the preeminent stakeholders, you and I, were uninvited. Over 60 percent of Americans favored universal health care but it was immediately dismissed as “unworkable.” Voices for universal were banned from the talks. Here is where Obama lost traction with millions of his supporters. His quick capitulation to the profiteers, who are indeed the very cause of the problem, proved a Rubicon event.

The moral question of doling out life-saving healthcare, at a hefty price, looms behind all of this, but it never surfaced in the brain-dead media. Their forte seems to be saying “absolutely” to each other on TV and marginalizing any opinions not in accordance with the unwritten corporate code. No other country sells medicine and hospital care for a profit. Cars, washing machines, widgets, yes, but wiser and nobler nations understand that medicine is a crucial necessity, not a privilege reserved for those who will accept the egregious red ink involved.

Like many American goods and services, health insurance is a defective product, its safety-net value stripped away over the last 20 years. Co-pays, loopholes, high deductibles and 18 percent increases nearly every year. In Maine Anthem Blue Cross holds a monopoly, hence our rates are some of the highest going.

Universal care would boost nearly every business going, cutting 20 or 30 percent of their overhead in costly insurance policies (many useless) mandated by law. Many businesses could hire and expand on those savings alone. It would give every single American access to the emergency room, to surgery, to regular check ups and vastly diminish the instance of untreated last gasp cases. Universal would end the horrible number of bankruptcies caused by medical bills (50 percent of them, presently). We are trained to believe that such a system is socialized medicine and that’s very bad. This is a fool’s narrative, fed by corporate propaganda, intent on keeping the public in the dark.

Now for what you get. Let’s look at a routine preventive annual check up for someone with no serious problems. Firstly, the uninsured will pay top dollar because a cash customer has no leverage. So much for the uninsured riding on the backs of others. After waiting two to three months to be seen, the appointment runs late. (God help you if you were really ill.) Someone takes your height and weight, telling you two numbers you already know. Then the doctor comes in wielding a laptop, the cash register you see. Any extra questions you may have will be added to your bill. If you have a serious issue you will be referred elsewhere. Few opinions (what you’re paying for) will be offered because doctors fear liability.

Chest thump, back thump, eye and ear inspection, and off you go. The bill (due immediately, thanks) is approximately $190. or so for the 15-minute visit. That’s roughly $800 an hour, for a doctor who can’t even remember your name, and offers no advice or conclusions you haven’t heard before. Of course if you’re hospitalized your own doctor is no where to be found.

Our culture, through the media, subtly insists that our needs must be modified and adjusted to serve “the economy” (corporate greed). Actually it’s the other way around in a truly democratic system. In the medical arena faceless corporate executives, lobbyists who do the dirty work and government pawns who live on the legalized bribery defraud the public at will. Though it’s never cast in these tough terms, the very nature of our medical system defies both dignity and fairness. Get deathly ill and (if you survive)you may lose every asset you own, even if you are insured.

When life’s dire necessities are controlled by those who would monopolize, price gouge, exploit and lie boldface to the public, who would bribe the government, fight against our fair access to health, who are helping demolish a standard of living we see disappearing before our eyes, the public must respond. With the Obama capitulation it’s clear the usual channels of government are useless; it doesn’t really matter who’s in office anymore. Politics have become immaterial.

This is the new civil rights frontier: a brewing conflict between the public’s right to access essential goods and services, and the refusal of corporations to provide them at a fair and reasonable price.

 

Dennis Lopez lives in Rockport.