Thursday, 13 August 2009

We love the slightly confused healthcare argument!

Ok, I'm going to try and keep this brief (this is a games blog after all). Now there seems to be a few misconceptions regarding both our healthcare in Britain and what Obama proposes to do in the US. The first point to make is that the two are in no way related.

I'm sure anyone reading this already knows this, but Britain and America have very different ideals regarding healthcare. Here in Britain we run a socialised healthcare scheme, whereby any treatments are paid for out of peoples taxes. This ensures that everyone can get treated, but can sometimes lead to long waiting times for procedures and some treatments financial viability coming under heavy scrutiny. However in America most healthcare is dealt with by private companies, meaning that the cost of healthcare is burdened directly onto the consumer (It feels weird thinking about ill people as consumers). Because of this fact, costs are often considerably higher, meaning that many people cant afford treatments when they are in need. To solve this issue private insurance companies cover healthcare for a fee (some would call it an extortionate fee). Unfortunately these insurers are not particularly interested in peoples health, instead focusing more on profits. As a result of this, insurance companies often deny peoples claims fo treatment for entirley fraudulent reasons in order to minimise costs and maximise profits.

So that leads us to Obama's current proposals, the cause of all this controversy. The mistake many people are making is in thinking that Obama is trying to nationalize healthcare, he isn't. What he is in fact doing, is offering a public option for insurance, massively reducing the cost of insurance and increasing the number of claims that are met. He also intends to abolish healthcare costs for the most disadvantaged. This seems like a rather good idea, given that 46% of Americans simply cannot afford healthcare.

So why the comparison with the NHS? If any of you are familiar with the rightwing news networks in America you probably have a fair idea. What this comparison actually aims to do, is to disguise the fact that Obama is only providing public insurance, not healthcare. Why do this? Well it turns out that a lot of people inside the private insurance companies are quite scared by the thought of a cheaper more reliable coverage option (who would of thought it). Coincidentally, the rightwing news networks have a lot of links with the private insurers (yes, I am being sarcastic) and as such want to protect their interests. How better to do this than pretend that Obama is a socialist Nazi?

Ironically the media's attempts to divert people from the truth of the situation is working on exactly the kind of people it was meant to help. For the most part these people aren't well educated or particularly wealthy and their only source of information on the matter is the media. These people are being betrayed by the very people they trust and it is very deeply saddening. When you see these people on tv, storming town halls and slowing political progress it's important not to think of them as idiots or crazy people. They are very deeply scared that they are in danger of losing something, something very important and on those terms, they are sort of being rational. It's not they're fault they've been misinformed.

I'd like to make it clear that I don't have a bias towards either social or private healthcare (there are valid arguments on both sides and I'm not really in a strong position to decide which is better). However, I do have a bias towards everyone being able to get the healthcare that they need. The public option that Obama is trying to provide to the American people is a truly wonderful progression for the US and should be applauded. Anyone who doesn't trust the new option can stick with their old insurers if they wish and the people who haven't been able to receive healthcare in the past will now be able to. Hopefully this bill will pass and America will have a fully comprehensive healthcare service, then we can have a real discussion as to whether private or public healthcare is better. Until then, leave the NHS alone, it's doing the best it can.

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