Birth Control ‘Debate’ Reveals Flaw With American Health Care

Health care reform protest at Blue Shield of California - photo by Steve Rhodes

The recent ‘debate’ on birth control has exposed a fundamental problem with the American health care ‘system’ and I hope it will be the catalyst for continued conversation. The flaw with American health care is that we are beholden to our employers. Lose your job and you lose your health care insurance.

But Republicans would like to make it even worse.

Some members of the GOP would like to allow employers a greater say on what is or isn’t covered in your health care insurance plan. If your employer doesn’t believe in birth control, then these Republicans would like your employer to have final say on whether you have access to birth control via your coverage plan. For a party that talks about government overreach and personal freedom, this shows they are less concerned about freedom and instead more concerned about maintaining and cultivating the American plutocracy. After all, it’s the wealthy and powerful who best know how the rest of us should live our lives.

You hear Republicans talk about ‘Obamacare’ as a government takeover of health care. But the Affordable Care Act is nothing if not a gift to the private insurance industry. It changes nothing about how most Americans get their health care insurance, through a private insurance company plan offered by an employer. How is that a government takeover of health care? It’s not even a government takeover of health care insurance. Republicans simply lie when they say the government is getting between you and your doctor.

While I say it’s a gift to the private insurance industry, I do think there are good provisions in the health care reform law, like requiring 80% of revenue to be spent on direct care and not allowing people to be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I also think that health care reform passed and is now law is a huge step towards the goal of a single-payer system, or simply, Medicare for all.

When you talk about a single-payer health care system that’s when Republicans lose their minds. If they are already labeling the Affordable Care Act as a government takeover and socialism what’s left for a single-payer system? Communism? Although for Republicans to label it communism, that would require they actually understand the difference between communism and socialism.

Republicans offer the same argument to a single-payer system, that it would get between you and your doctor. They say you don’t want a government bureaucrat making decisions on your health care insurance coverage.

And this is when we come full circle.

Republicans say you don’t want a government bureaucrat making these decisions and rationing health care. Instead, Republicans say that your employer as well as private insurance company bureaucrats should make these decisions.

Make no mistake, health care rationing is already a reality in this country. Health care is rationed for the sake of private insurance company profits and it is rationed by having tens of millions of Americans unable to afford insurance.

A single-payer health care system simply means that government is the sole insurance provider, like it is for veterans, members of congress and those who are 65 and older and on Medicare. A single-payer health care system is still not a government takeover of health care, but t IS a government takeover of health care insurance.

Nobody is making the case that a single-payer system will solve all problems but it would cut the overhead and complexity of American health care. It would eliminate the hundreds of different forms and documents required by the current disorganized patch work of insurance providers that only serves to raise the cost of health care for everyone. And it would remove profits from the decision-making process.

So why can’t we have Medicare for all?


photo by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

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