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 could 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!