Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thinking About the Health Care System, Part 1

According to my records, I have written about the general topic of health care in this blog 30 times in the past 12 years. It's a topic I care a lot about, for a lot of reasons: for one, I have a large family with a lot of children and grandchildren, some of whom need various types of special care; for another, I'm getting old ... and we all know that as we get older, things start to go expensively wrong, no matter how well we've tried to take care of ourselves along the way.

Most people would agree that America's health care system is a mess. We have some of the best doctors in the world, supported by fantastic equipment, state-of-the-art facilities, and safe and powerful drugs. Unfortunately, too many ... if not most ... of us can't afford the the level of care that's available. Why is that?

I believe there are several major reasons why our health care system is such a dumpster fire. In this post, I'm going to talk about one of them; in a subsequent series of occasional posts I'll discuss the others, and then culminate with my proposal for a total reform of the American health care system. Stick around for the whole discussion before you tell me how little I understand about the real world and how stupid and un-American I am.

Here's the first of my theories about why our health care system is messed up:

We are conditioned by our history to stress individual responsibility and self-reliance. A real American takes care of himself and does not expect others to carry his weight.

This is essentially the same argument used to justify unrestricted gun ownership and open carry/concealed carry laws - you can't count on the police (or anyone else) to protect you, so you have to be prepared to protect yourself at all times. In the health care context, it means that if you get sick, it's your own fault because you didn't take care of yourself. Nobody else is responsible for taking care of you ... you need to plan to pay for whatever treatment you need to recover from the results of your failure to maintain your health.

This emerges from the doctrine of rugged individualism, defined* as

"The practice or advocacy of individualism in social and economic relations emphasizing personal liberty and independence, self-reliance, resourcefulness, self-direction of the individual, and free competition in enterprise."

This is the quintessential American approach, in which the individual is of primary importance and the country was always meant to be a land of rugged individualists - people descended from the tough men and women who conquered an untamed wilderness armed only with grit, guns, and self-reliance.

Thus, focus on individual responsibility is the first of the key elements that has shaped the American approach to health care.

That's Theory #1. Number two will follow in a few days.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* In my trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

So is rugged individualism good or bad? Where does responsibility6 begin?

Heidi O'Rourke said...

I worry that the State will act in a manner consonant with the interests of the State, and discount the interests of the individual.

Mike said...

I'm blaming the anti-vaxers when I get sick. They are my new go to patsy's.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Anti-vaxers ignore science and common sense.

Come to think of it; common sense is not as common as we would wish.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

There's always room for error, whether its source is the potential patient, doctors, or admnistrators who would act as gatekeepers for possible treatment.