This image was sent to fellow anti-health reform campaigners by Florida neurosurgeon Dr. David McKalip. So why, if their argument draws on such crass resources, are anti-reformers succeeding in their attempt to stop Obama from implementing a comprehensive health plan in the US?
US President Barack Obama's plans to set up a national health service in the country were dealt a blow on Thursday after both Republicans and Democrats chose to postpone voting on the bill until September. The decision follows a chorus of disapproval from many American doctors, patients and insurers who are against the idea and label it "socialist" and describe it as "health rationing".
The US is the only major industrialised nation which does not provide universal health care for all of its citizens, leaving US patients the biggest spenders in the world when it comes to medical treatment. Obama's plan is to offer a "Public Option" - a government-run insurance scheme which would offer competitive rates so that private insurers would have to compete, keeping a tab on costs. It would also mean that all US citizens would have to be medically insured. Currently, around 85% of people have private health care insurance, most of them jointly funded by employee and employer, and some paid personally. The remaining 15% have no access to health care, unless they are admitted on an emergency basis, when the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act enforces that hospitals receive emergency patients, regardless of their ability to pay. This section of society however, simply has to ignore non-emergency ailments. There are some state-funded programmes in place - for example, Medicare (for elderly patients) and Medicaid (for low-paid/ unemployed patients). But care given depends on the city/ state, and only covers extreme cases.
“The uninsured are like people who shoplift from a department store”
Dr. Mark Kellen is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist based in Rockford, Illinois. He presides the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons which incorporates Take Back Medicine, a group campaigning against government involvement in health care.
For me as a medical practitioner, the biggest problem that Obama's plans would pose is the increased amount of paperwork. One of the problems that European doctors have which we don't is limited patient time because of increased paperwork. A lot of European countries are seeing that when the government pays for everything, quality is lowered. In the US you can shop for the best price, which boosts competition. Obama wants to put a stop to that. His scheme would simply transport money from the people to the government. Just because it doesn't work for a minority, he wants to turn a system that works for the majority of people on its head. Let me give you an example:
My daughter is a graphic art graduate, 22 years old and living alone. She's a healthy girl. So she pays a $30 [€21] monthly basic insurance instead of an all inclusive 800-900 dollar [€560 - €630] pre-payment that she doesn't need. If she wants to go for a pap [cervical] smear test for example, which is not covered by her insurance, then she pays the $70 [€50] fee upfront and cuts out the paperwork. If she should have something seriously wrong, then she only has to pay the first $5,000 [€3,500] per year, and then the rest is covered by her insurers.
Those who really can't afford insurance are funded by the government - through Medicare and Medicaid schemes. But then there's a segment in the middle you see, who can't afford insurance but earn too much to be eligible for government aid. These uninsured are the people we need to target. The uninsured are like people who shoplift from a department store. The store has to push up its prices to cover them, as do health service providers for those who turn up to ER, where they know they can get aid for free, without any insurance. The hospital has to accept them, and the people who are funding it are therefore paying their fees."
"Health Rations and You", parody from anti-reform campaigners