Fomenting Fear on Health Care

April 04, 2011

(Rutland Herald)

When all else fails, make people afraid of change. That apparently is the strategy of many opponents of any “universal” health care plan. For example, at a recent meeting at the Statehouse that I attended, an anesthesiologist compared universal coverage for Vermonters as leading the way to dictatorships similar to Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot. (I guess Stalin didn’t make the cut.) Another opponent at the same meeting relayed secondhand anecdotal evidence of a hospital horror story in Canada. The doctor’s comparison is so absurd it defies comment, while any anecdotal evidence about Canadian health care would pale in comparison to anecdotal horror stories here in the U.S. Incidentally, life expectancy in Canada is approximately three years longer than the U.S. at about half the cost per capita.

Another fear we hear about is that some doctors will leave the state if a universal/single-payer plan is adopted. However, out-of-state medical students and doctors who rallied at the Statehouse on March 26 said they would prefer to practice in Vermont if such a plan becomes law. The ridiculous amount of paperwork under the current health insurance system is given as one of the main reasons. Doctors should be able to practice medicine, not have to act as billing clerks for insurance companies.

Concerning the exaggerated fear of government control of health care, how many of us would trade their Medicare coverage for an expensive, high-deductible insurance policy that many others must settle for?

What we really have to fear is a continuation of our overly expensive, convoluted, and inefficient system with premiums and deductibles escalating to the point of making comprehensive health care unaffordable for most. In fact, the concept of an insurance company regulating our health care is rather bizarre in the first place. We are people, not property.