someone's mother coughing blood. Or a father groaning in pain and yelling behind a closed door. It means parents or other family members arguing because after one of them missed a promotion at work -- because of all the time spent taking care of a loved one. It means slammed doors. It means missed dinners. Most of all, it means a child somewhere, in some inconsequential town, crying, heaving sobs into his pillow, because his parent is going to die. Another child sitting in stunned silence in class, not listening to a word the teacher says.http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/no-words--5
Never mind that just like other civil services, universal healthcare makes for a more civil, prosperous society, if a few millions less for the fatcats.
Positing moral hazard to deny universal health care has just felt wrong, even fraudulent, to me; I recently realized why.
I come from three generations of doctors, and it was only when my
father was training at Yale Medical that the first antibiotic,
sulfa (not seen of much worth today, but a miracle then), came
into medicine, and shortly thereafter, when he was a doctor in a
WW II M.A.S.H., penicillin. Magic bullets, no mistake; before
then, medicine was a calling and a hazardous one: you were on the
front lines fighting deadly and hideously contagious diseases...that
could and did kill doctors and nurses. Doctors were respected
because they battled for life with guts and precious little
effective treatment or drugs. My father's much beloved younger
brother took a month to die slowly of a bone infection that
amoxicillin could have cured in days; his father, an eye, ear,
nose and throat doctor trained in Vienna could do nothing but
watch him die by inches.
Doctors made a comfortable living and could even get a bit rich, but above all, they were respected for their work in a way that few men other than clergy were. Healing people was a calling, a difficult and uncertain battle. Yes, there were venal and incompetent doctors; we'll always have those in every line of work. But medicine was first about saving lives, healing broken and diseased bodies.
The miracle drugs (and later, diagnostic tests and a growing understanding of biology and genetics) changed all that. Medicine became less an art and devotion, more a science of crank-turning procedures, and, alas, a business. Along with that growing success, doctors became technicians delivering a commodity...and now were sued, where they never had been before (because sometimes they couldn't deliver the expected "commodity"). Also, HMOs began to direct and regiment the practice of medicine. My father's practice fell between those two watermarks, between antibiotics and medicine-as-a-business. Dad treated one farmer's wife with a chronic condition that required periodic and expensive care that the farmer could ill afford. Dad worked out a barter: my brother and I had a few days at the farm yearly in return for his wife's care...and so it was that I, a city kid, had the experience of getting fresh warm eggs from a small hen-house, playing hide-and-seek in a hayloft, and picking up baby lambs and having them shit on my snowsuit.
We have an economy that knows the costs of medicine (and how much
we can 'afford') but nothing of its value and aspirations. I
remember being confounded and outraged when the very idea, all
bright and shiny and new, of for-profit medicine burst on the
scene. Obscene and immoral I thought it then; now it is the new
normal....along with tightening the screws for ever more profit.
Medicine is a calling no more: now its high priests are CEOs who
worship profit and bonuses, with doctors their employees on the
treadmill of "managed health".
When a hurricane hits the shore, an earthquake levels our world
into rubble, when a river rises...when natural disaster wipes out
communities, lives and livings, our people and our government
help. Why should it be any different with medicine? The
concept of moral hazard is an immoral fraud...and against the
teaching of all religions, other than those of Ayn Rand. The
injunctions are clear: heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe and
house the needy. Moral hazard is simply a brutal justification
for ignoring the sick, hungry and needy.
The conservatives say that having mandated health care with
compulsory insurance payment buyin is a restriction of freedom....you
know, like we are forced to pay for police and fire services, like we
pay for interstate highway for our driving and Federal Air Control for
flights. Sure that consttrains our liberty...or as Charley Pierce put it: "One of the most odious arguments floating around the healthcare debate is
the notion that people somehow are more "free" if their choices are so
circumscribed by economic circumstances that they either can't afford
insurance or decide to buy a policy in which the description of Homo sapiens is listed as a pre-existing condition down there in the fine print."
For those whose faith is in Christ...and also are
Libertarian...or conservative...or who just think universal health
care is a moral hazard, I have a question for you:
Doesn't that give the lie to your faith?
Did Jesus not pay the price for your salvation when He freely
offered up his life on the cross to pay for your sins?
No, He did it for love, love of the whole world; He paid for all and counted not the cost
Where would you be if God had withheld His mercy and sighed "Moral Hazard".
Are you truly following in Jesus' footsteps?
Moral hazard brings this to mind:
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
- J.K. Galbraith