Dropping In: Medicare for All, Adventuring, and You
Words by Kyle von Hoetzendorff
If you’re alive then at some point you’ve had a health issue; hangnails to broken bones, common colds to genetic disorders. Being alive means being at the mercy of injury and sickness, precarity is part of the human experience. The degree to which each one of us has to address health in a very large part comes down to luck; genetic, location, etc. It would be one thing we choose to live in a padded room with platinum-level HEPA filters and a well-curated mix of cultural sensory input to prevent the self-inflicted harm that would surely stalk anyone forced to live in a padded cell their entire life. But then that’s the point, most of us don’t want to live in hypo-precarity.
Nearly everything we do, no, everything we do puts us in harm’s way. Our lives are an endless (save one) multiverse of failed Final Destination plots. We know this and yet not only do we choose to go through life tempting fate in supermarket aisles and shower stalls, the banal dangers of the day to day, but if you’re reading this then to some degree you are one of those who actively taunts injurious inevitability. Bicycling, hiking, camping, swimming, surfing, climbing, frisbee golf, regular golf, etc. If you’re doing one or all these things then you’re courting injury and if you’re courting injury in America well then at some point you’re going to have to get square with our health insurance system.
And guess what, our health insurance system sucks. It just does, and if you’ve ever had to interact with it then this isn’t news to you. What I am not saying is that our doctors, our nurses, our hospitals, and all of the other functional pieces of our modern age that come together to fix you and me when we catch a bug or clip a corner suck. No, that’s stuff is great, thank you team. What I am talking about when I say that our Health Insurance System sucks is the Health Insurance System. I like to think of Health Insurance System as a goiter thirsting on our health and our income. Functionally useless, a parasite that operates simply as a means to its own end.
But who says we have to live with this parasite? At this very moment, there is legislation in Congress that if enacted will excise this parasite and allow you, me, and everyone we know to have real functional healthcare. This is called the Medicare For All Act – HR 1384 and it would give Americans, all of us, a system of healthcare that will be on par with that of the rest of the developed world and much of the developing world.
What having a system like this would mean is that you wouldn’t have to wonder how you’re going to pay for it if something goes wrong “dropping in.” Or whether or not you should go get that thing checked out. It means not having to stay stuck in a job that you can’t stand simply because being without healthcare benefits is too great a risk for you or your family. It means not having to launch a Gofundme to help fix a broken leg or buy insulin. It means that the lives of everyone we interact with will be greatly improved. I am not saying that universal healthcare is a panacea for all of society’s woes but you can’t deny that there is a strong correlation between countries with a high happiness index and those with universal healthcare.
Yes, this means that the government will take a bigger role in how healthcare works but the way I understand it we live in a democracy, and as such we, the people, are the bosses of our government. On the other hand, privatized healthcare means private companies and shareholders are the ultimate bosses, and as corporate entities, these businesses are required by law to do their best to make a profit for the shareholders. Free-market folks will argue that open competition will ultimately mean consumers win, that business is forced to work to win our business and that the best product is that which will have the most to offer a consumer. But this isn’t the case when a small cohort of cartels conspire to dominate the industry. What’s more for-profit insurance doesn’t ultimately mean that competition will yield the best offerings for consumers, it ultimately means that the final offerings must create profit for stakeholders, and these two things are vastly different. It would be one thing if I were just some crank spewing fantastical ideas but polls show that 70% of Americans are already in favor of Medicare for all. Now we just have made our elected representatives hear us so that they understand the gravity and importance of our demands.
I caught up with Riley Brann, he is as an organizer for the National Nurses United’s Campaign to WIN Medicare for All and is pushing hard to enact this legislation in Congress to talk about some of the specifics regarding Medicare For All.
In the most straightforward terms can you explain the idea behind Medicare for All and how it would work. Yes! Here are the main points: 1) A Single Health Program – Everyone will be covered by one health insurance program, administered by the federal government, and have equal access to all medical services and treatments. 2) Comprehensive Coverage –
All services requiring a medical professional will be fully covered. You go to the doctor of your choice. Dental, vision, mental health, and pharmaceuticals are all included. 3) Free at the point of service – All healthcare costs will be financed through tax contributions based on ability to pay: no copays, no fees, no deductibles and no premiums. Ever. 4) Universal Coverage Coverage for all United States residents — non-citizens included. So what we are talking about is something that would truly transform our broken healthcare system and give us something robust that would serve all of us.
For people looking to get involved with Medicare for All and the push to make it happen what are some ways people can contribute? One of the first things you can do is contact your representatives, your congresspeople and senators. Call them and ask them to support Medicare For All. It’s important to call because their office logs each message and this is a way for your representative to directly poll the need and mood of their constituents. Here’s a handy tool to help you get your rep’s contact information. NEXT: Tell your friends and family to do the same. Another great way to get involved is to find an organization in your local area that is supporting medicare for all and donate time, effort, and/or expertise. Maybe your schedule won’t allow you to attend marches or meetings? But you’re a graphic designer, photographer, writer, knitter, etc. There is a good chance you can use your skills to help our your local organization. Just ask!
What are some common arguments that people make against Medicare For All. Too Expensive – People always ask: “How are you gonna pay for it.” Well the funny thing is MFA is cheaper than our current system. Financial analysis reports that implementation would save the U.S. money. Currently we pay more than any other major country for healthcare.
Not only is there a financial savings to be made but also a major reduction in physical and emotional pain and suffering through early treatment and prevention People also have a fear of government control of healthcare. But under Medicare for All we would actually have more control and more choice for the patient. Under a Medicare for All system, rather than having to wonder if something is “in network” or covered, or if this procedure will be covered or that, everyone has the same medical card, that is good at any doctors. So you can go anywhere, be seen by any licensed physician and get the care that you need! Which ultimately gives the consumer more choice and more control over their healthcare.
Other common things that come up when you’re talking about this, like more money in taxes? Yeah people do ask that. So the way that works is it will be funded through tax. But unless you are making over 250K a year (95% of US population and most likely everyone reading this) you will PAY LESS in taxes than you’ll pay in healthcare premiums now and could save upwards of tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Politics are a hard topic for most of us. They lay bare the fissures, conflicts, and opinions that can make us uncomfortable. I don’t think this can be completely extinguished nor do I think discussing important matters should be totally avoided. However I’ve recently learned of a new yet to be codified word, Sonder, the definition of which is “the profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.” I.e. Empathy. I.e. against solipsism. Empathy doesn’t solve problems but it helps us get to the root of our conflicts. And once we’re at the root we can start to have conversations based on shared understanding and definitions. There isn’t always going to be a solution but there’s a 100% better chance at finding a solution if we try than if we don’t.
The other observation I think is apropos is that our culture is flush with incantations to be creative, unique, to think outside the box, to “think different.” Yet when it comes to these truly big ideas, like medicare for all and climate change, the media class and the majority of our reps tell us we must work incrementally, that we have to compromise, that incremental change is the only pragmatic way this could possibly happen. These claims are false, look at the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Program, the WPA, are not incrementalist movements, but initiatives based on action and the need for change.
So that’s the point, maybe when you’re out on a ride, a run, during a trail building day, on the drive back from a surf, helping a neighbor, having a beer you can bring up something like Universal Healthcare and have a discussion about it because when you’re out riding not having to consider about how much it would cost if you got hurt really makes the experience so much better.
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