Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, August 06, 2009

  Exiled by health insurance

I'd guess that many readers have heard of Americans who are tied to poorly paying or unsatisfactory jobs because they or a family member have health problems and simply cannot give up their employer's health insurance. With a pre-existing condition, they become immobilized almost as if they were indentured. Well, there are other ways that the arcane and illiberal health insurance industry in the US oppresses Americans as if it were a law unto itself. One phenomenon, little discussed, is the way that some of our fellow citizens are forced to live in exile abroad due to the exigencies of the for-profit American health insurance industry.

I've lived in several countries that, unlike the US, have rational and humane health care systems - especially in the UK with its National Health Service. The British NHS is one of the favorite whipping boys of American opponents of health care reform. I found that it worked well; it provided good basic care, quickly and inexpensively. I'd trade the mess of a health care "system" we now have in the US for an NHS in a heartbeat. I'd happily settle for a single-payer system such as Medicare for all.

However I won't support any of the health care reform bills currently being excreted by Congressional committees. Each of them bolsters the failed private insurance industry by mandating that we buy insurance, while tacking on a weak and highly exclusionary (i.e. small) public option in the pretense that it might somehow bring under control an already long out-of-control industry.

This history of the public option by Kip Sullivan explains in detail why the heavily watered-down public option proposals embodied in the various bills coming out of Congress are doomed to fail. It is essential reading.

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