Who’s picking up the check?

So, for some reason over the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about health care.

OK. I’ve covered those reasons pretty extensively, I guess. In fact, I thought I was through thinking about that stuff.

But then, there’s this, on the right. Click on it to get the full effect. (This isn’t complete, by any means. But dammmmmmmmmmn … )

hospital-billSo, what to make of this? It’s absurd, amIright?

Or is it? This was a major operation, and over the course of several days in the hospital (and quite a few doctors visits since then), I had a ton of people cutting me and prodding me and cooking for me and shoving pills down my throat and, generally, just looking after me 24/7. It wasn’t going to be cheap.

But … dammmmmmmmmmn.

Eleven thousand smackers for drugs that require “specific identification”? Another $6,000 for pharmacy?

One hundred and fifteen K?

This is one of those things you get in the mail that says “THIS IS NOT A BILL,” which is nice. I have some good insurance. My bit, when all is said and paid for, is going to be just a fraction of this.

But what if I had lousy healthcare, like so many in this country do? What if I had none?

What if, at the risk of getting my Bernie Sanders on, I didn’t have to worry about it?

The other day, goofing off when I should have been working, I found this site on the Webs. (You might want to turn your head if you’re a Republican.)

Physicians for a A National Health Program

And then I found this paper, written by a Canadian doctor, in the American Journal of Public Health, which concludes with this:

The universal, single-payer system has been good not only for Canadians but also for their doctors. At least, it has done no harm.

Now, I’m not advocating here. It should take more than looking up a couple sites, or watching a video or two to convince anyone on the idea of a national healthcare program. The 20,000-plus physicians that put their name to that site and the one doc who wrote that paper could be politically or financially motivated. You never know with these things. You never know.

I have no doubt, too, that there are sites out there that would shoot down the idea of a single-payer, Medicare type of system for the U.S., maybe as thoroughly as these docs present it.

So I’m in no position to argue this. Not trying to. Wouldn’t want to try.

But shouldn’t we at least talk about this and, more importantly, finally fix this thing? As screwed up as healthcare is in the U.S. — the costs, sure, but also the red tape (and, really, the whole process) — shouldn’t we stop screwing around?

Obamacare tried. Whether you think, as many do, that the ACA is an unmitigated disaster (and possibly illegal) or whether you’re glad to have coverage and not worry about existing conditions and all that, Obamacare was an attempt.

Again, this is no trumpeting of Obamacare. It certainly hasn’t seemed to have a positive effect on my situation. But, really, what are we scared of when we talk about revamping the current system? Why are we scared of a single-payer system that covers everybody?

(Oh, there’s plenty to be scared of — socialized medicine, they cry — though the PNHP docs shoot down several myths and answer all sorts of questions about a national plan on their site.)

I’m going to throw out one number here. It’s provided by the PNHP, so consider the source.

One of the biggest fears about a single-payer system — “of, relating to, or being a system in which health-care providers are paid for their services by the government rather than by private insurers,” according to M-W — is that, in the end, it will cost us money. But an economics professor at the UMass-Amherst contends that “95% of all U.S. households would save money” if a bill before the U.S. House that promotes a single-payer system is enacted.

The bill — H.R. 676 — will never become law. It has no chance.

But we gotta start doing more than knocking everybody else’s ideas. We have to find an answer. Anyone who has had any dealing with the healthcare system in the U.S. — anyone who’s had an outrageous bill (like the one above) or spent two hours waiting for four minutes with your doctor, or anyone who can’t afford to do any of that — knows the system needs fixing.

Will a single-payer system do the trick? There are those for and against it. I sure as heck don’t have an answer.

All I have is that ridiculous bill. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

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