Socialized Medicine, It's Closer Than You Think

Nearly 20 years ago, my father, Dr. Porter E. Barbera, MD, told me that socialized medicine would be coming to the United States and he was right. 

He said that his practice was during what he termed “the golden age of medicine.” He also disparaged medical practice after he retired as the “age of gold,” meaning that greedy pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, hospital corporations and the business takeover of medicine was beginning to drive healthcare costs through the roof, forcing socialized medicine in order for the average person to afford medical costs.

I am sure many other doctors predicted the same thing, but only now are we beginning to see socialized medicine coming to the United States and the business community does not like it. Yes, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives are against it, but they are dancing to the tune of their masters in the pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital corporations that have turned medicine into a bottom-line-based business that has little to do with patient care.

The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” as it is derisively known is but the first shot at setting things right in this country where MBAs instead of MDs make healthcare decisions based on money, not care. Programs like the ACA will force pharmaceutical and insurance companies into price competition where once they had free reign with the help of healthcare conglomerates like the Hospital Corporation of America, the largest healthcare conglomerate in the world.

Often with this unholy trio, override sound medical decisions by practicing physicians in the interest of profit, not patient well being. Disgustingly, many of these businesses profit from government largesse, while campaigning against socialized healthcare, which they are bringing about by predatory pricing and fraud. Nevertheless, socialized healthcare is coming.

In May of 2011, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, signed the country’s first ever "Single-Payer Health Care" bill into law. Although the full plan will not be fully implemented until 2017, it is a step toward reducing medical costs for all the state’s residents as well as providing healthcare insurance. It is a small step that still has a long way to go, but it is a start.

Just what is single-payer healthcare? Said simply, a single-payer or monopsony system allows a single purchaser, such as the United States government, to set the terms of purchasable items, such as healthcare insurance and the associated costs it covers. In other words, it drives down costs by making competition at a set price or lower to win the customer's dollar.

Of course, for the pharmaceutical, insurance and for-profit industries, such a system will be dramatic cuts in profits, but they were the ones that put the country in the situation in the first place. Yet, it does not need to be that way. 

Not only can single-payer healthcare help US citizens, it could also help businesses by getting them out of the insurance business, reducing labor costs, eliminating some costly benefits and cutting back management costs, thus, making it easier to compete with foreign markets.

However, here is the rub. Business does not want to pay for anything. They fear that if they are relieved of providing employee benefits that they will carry a higher tax burden. For the average citizen, corporate concerns are little more than smoke blown into a small hole as American businesses have not paid their fare share of taxes for decades and bitch about the minimal amount they pay now. 

Still, socialized medicine is coming as greedy corporation are addicted to money and shooting themselves in the foot as they will make socialized medicine come that much sooner because of their greed. Not surprisingly, the United States ranks at the bottom of so-called “first world” countries in providing healthcare for its citizens. The public favors single-payer healthcare.

It is the cowardice legislators who fear irritating financial backers and conservatives from their home states, which effectively stops the flow of common sense in Washington. That and the corporate lobbyists from the insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit hospital corporations keep the dogs on a short leash. Still, socialized medicine is coming.

Socialism is a word used as a political scare tactic that most people in the United States cou
ld not explain adequately even at a high school level. Politicians use it to confuse the electorate into voting against their own interests. Unfortunately, a portion of the US public is dense enough to buy it without realizing that Medicare, Medicaid, as well as Army, Navy and all armed forces medical care is socialized medicine paid for by the taxpayer.

In an article titled, “It’s The Prices, Stupid: Why The United States Is So Different From Other Countries,” that appeared in the peer-reviewed journal, Health Affairs, considered the leading journal of health policy thought and research in the United States, it concluded that “much higher prices are paid in the United States than in other countries.”

Even though the United States has some of the best medical facilities, doctors and technology in the world, what good is it if only a few can pay for it. In other words, in this country you cannot afford to be sick!

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 6, 2013 at 4:43pm

Stephen--Thank you. There is some serious information there. I will be passing it along to others. Again, thanks.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 6, 2013 at 4:42pm

More insurance scams are being uncovered each day. Some of them are somewhat true, but you can't somewhat true with you health. ACA is a helpful offering for those without insurance. Here in Texas we have the highest number of uninsured  as well as the second largest number of uninsured children. To top it off, Governor Perry in his wisdom decided not to expand medicare coverage, thus leaving more than 4 million people without an alternative.

Comment by Michael Penn on November 6, 2013 at 10:08am

Just got off the phone with my step father talking about Medicare, the HMO's they want you to get, (we both have Coventry now) and how the public likes the ACA but they hate Obamacare. Someone is trying to scare these old people up! We should be aware and not let it happen!

Dad thinks that once "Obamacare" becomes fully effective everyone will be forced to drop what insurance they have now and pay extremely high prices to get "Obamacare." SOMEONE is telling these seniors that is what it's all about. Lots of scams gonna happen here.

If anyone calls you wanting all your medical information for "the new plan" just hang up! They are stealing information. If they were legit they would have the info anyway, AND you would have received credible info by mail. As a vet I got info in the mail saying that I need to do nothing further. I am fully covered. If you have an HMO through Medicare your provider will mail you any changes. PHONE CALLS ARE A SCAM!

Hello. This is your bank and we need your social security number and your account number. (Don't ya think they have it already??) DO NOT FALL FOR THIS OR ANY MEDICAL SCAMS!

Comment by Stephen Gunn on November 6, 2013 at 9:24am

What a great article!  Also try:

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us - TIME  from Mar 4, 2013


Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 6, 2013 at 6:57am
Social security, Medicare, Armed forces health care, police and fire fighters, highways and more things than I list here are supported by the government through taxes. Although most Americans claim to be against "socialism" don't want its benefits removed and that is because most have no clear idea of what constitutes socialism, in part, because of political misdirection.
Comment by Michael Penn on November 6, 2013 at 6:13am

Well, we have socialized security (even though Republicans don't like it) so what is wrong with having socialized medicine? Guess I'll keep collecting my check for the rest of my life unless they shut down the government.

"Hey, Republicans. Yeah, you guys who refuse your social security checks. Line up over here on the right."

"I only refuse my social security check if it's real rape."

"Shut up, Todd."

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 6, 2013 at 6:03am
We have quite a bit of socialism in the United States, but it is not called that. Sadly, it isn't called what it is. In today's US, the word socialism is a political pejorative that in reality has no connection with real socialism. Many countries are socialist, but that is not what they it. Socialism as a strategy is not a bad thing just as capitalism isn't. However, how either is implemented can be problematic. Politicians use the word as a suggestive word that implies a connection with communism, another word that is misunderstood. I guess I said all of to say, I agree with you!
Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 6, 2013 at 5:52am
Tom--When I lived in Virginia they called the Robin Hood law. I haven't had a child in school for a long time, but I can't opt out. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes I'm in favor of it. I guess I am egalitarian in my overall view. Still, I can't think of a better way to do it.

On medicine or healthcare I am well aware of how it works and how it might be a candidate for the socialized medicine because we already pay for care for the indigent, uninsured and other emergency room users. The cost of treating those patients are passed along to the public in higher health care costs, which can also raise insurance premiums. Routine procedures performed in the emergency room are more expensive than a visit to a primary care physician. However, many coming to to the ER have no insurance and a large portion of hospital cannot refuse treatment. In addition, medication given at the hospital can be exorbitantly overpriced. A simple ibuprofen tablet that would cost as little as 15 cents or lower from an over-the-counter source may cost as much as $10 or more at a hospital.
Comment by tom sarbeck on November 6, 2013 at 5:39am

Socialized sports consists of governments using taxpayers' money to build stadiums for teams whose owners are quite wealthy.

Socialized businesses? We can start with oil companies that receive taxpayer-provided subsidies. Maybe go from there to agribusinesses that do the same. Banks?

In the early 1900s Californians voted to add the initiative and referendum to the state constitution. That was too much democracy for opponents, so they called the provisions socialism.

Much of American capitalism depends on privatizing the profits and socializing the costs.

Before America threw off British rule, England was keeping the western lands for the natives. Who paid the costs of the Revolution? Not those among the founders who became wealthy selling those lands to settlers.

For those with wealth, America has always been socialist.

Am I a socialist?

I want employees to own the companies they work for. They won't outsource their own jobs.

Comment by tom sarbeck on November 6, 2013 at 5:04am

Cenek, on the matter of choice.

I chose to have no children, but various local governments did not let me choose to pay no school taxes. There being no penalty-free opt-out, I paid to educate other people's children.

Your principle is, and will remain, imaginary.

The law requires hospital emergency rooms to treat people who are unable to pay. Do you need someone to tell you who pays?



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