The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sicko and insurance companies

Watch What You Wish For Watch

It's a classic case of overreach: In the act of trying to become even more powerful, the odiousness of a powerful entity becomes visible and unbearable. Only the unchecked excesses of the monopolies and corporate barons at the last turn of the century could have brought about the muckraking and reform which followed. Only the draconian policies of the deranged (and probably chemically poisoned) King George III could bring about open revolution, followed by the crafting of a government with a severely checked executive. Only the naked aggression of Hitler dragged an extremely war-weary Europe into yet another continent-wide conflict.

The bulk of people just want to work, have a place to live, spend time with their friends and families, raise their kids, have a little security, and not get hassled. Most people aren't fire-breathing radicals who want to challenge the system. They'll tolerate quite a bit of petty corruption and interference by the various powerful forces in their lives, as long as the interference and outrage aren't too awful.

For decades this country has put up with the for-profit health care system. And for decades, the for-profit health care system has been tolerated by the citizenry. It encouraged insurance companies to try to cheat people, but because of reasonable regulation by the government, and the ability of the insured to challenge the companies' policies in court, it held up reasonably well. Of course, there were always people falling through the cracks of the system, and the courts have always been off limits to the truly poor, but health care got along well enough that people could put up with it to get by.

But that wasn't enough for the insurance companies. They had to keep pushing the rules to the limit: cherry-picking their members, trying to expand the list of "pre-existing conditions", denying service, creating mazes of paperwork, and slow-stepping claims. And worst of all, when they found that their avarice was not slaked within the boundaries of the law and regulations, they latched onto the tide of corporate ownership of government to effectively ignore regulation. Now they could charge exorbitant fees, and because of the war against government regulation, and the fact that they owned large portions of congress, they could use every trick in the book to try to screw their customers. Who was going to stop them? The government? The people? Mwah hah hah hah!!

But like every overreach, there is only so far that people will stand for it. With millions upon millions of uninsured, with the US government paying more per capita for healthcare than even countries with single payer systems, with people who have insurance getting the runaround, with access to healthcare going down and down, eventually the people have to react. And spurred by events in their own lives and sparked by Michael Moore's film "Sicko", react they will.

Moore's been making the promotional rounds for this film, and recently issued this challenge to Democratic presidential candidates:

It's not going to be in enough in the next twelve months just to say, 'I believe in healthcare for everyone.' That's not enough. That's not enough! You're going to have to tell us very specifically what you are going to do to remove profit and greed from the system and put the system in the hands of the people of the United States of America. That's what we want to hear, and that's what we expect.

The poor, naïve millionaires who have been hearing Moore talk about his film can barely believe that Americans are getting a raw, and deadly, deal. David Letterman, hearing a story about a baby dying of fever while its mother tried to get it to an "in-network" hospital, could hardly believe it, bless his heart. Quoth the bubble-encased, gap-toothed Croesus,

In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, surely someone with some humanity in that circumstance would not let that happen . . . I'm just saying, "Really? Somebody could look at an infant with a 104 fever and say 'Nah, you want the, the, that's down the street, you wanna get down there if you can'". They wouldn't step in and say 'here, we can do this.'?

What Dave doesn't realize is that many of the people with "some humanity" have been removed from that equation. Likewise, Moore was able to penetrate the wealth-cocoon of Oprah long enough for her to admit,

I have to honestly say I hadn't thought about it because I'm one of those people "I've got mine" so I wasn't thinking about who didn't have theirs.

Americans could have been content to let this rotten system continue on forever, probably, with some small level of government regulation to keep them from becoming completely derelict in their duties and morally bereft greed-heads. But like all overreachers, they had to kill that government oversight and may succeed in killing the golden goose. Let's hope so.


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