Whether used as their denotation (dictionary definition) or connotation (cultural coloration), words are supposed to be tools for precise communication. This requires agreement between speaker and listener on what the words mean. Go means go, stop means stop, and reform means change for the better.
When they say “health,” they mean the opposite: sickness. Our current system does not measure, does not encourage, and therefore does not pay for wellness. Two entities benefit when people stay healthy: us as individuals and our nation, which should handle health care like what it should be: a wise long-term investment in infrastructure maintenance.
The “care” in politicians’ health care is actually health insurance. In a rare moment of candor, the President referred to Congressional legislative efforts as “insurance reform.”
Insurance is one way to pay for services, neither the only nor the best. In theory, having insurance increases access to care. This is true if and only if someone (provider) and something (health care institution) is there to provide that care. Nurses, doctors, and hospitals provide care. Insurance does not. Just because you have insurance does not mean you receive care.
Check out the long waiting lines in Great Britain (there they are called queues) and Japan. Consider the treatments you can get in the USA that are not available in Australia and Taiwan. Notice the residents (not citizens) who have no health insurance in Germany and France. All these countries have so-called universal coverage. “Universal coverage” is a new WMDc. If you doubt this, read Daniel Putkowski’s novel of the same name.
“Reform” (change to make something better) is not happening. What Congress is doing to healthcare should be called exacerbation. They are making it worse. Reform is another WMDc, used by Congresspeople to facilitate re-election, not to fix a broken healthcare system.
One of the most powerful and yet subtle WMDc’s is cost, particularly cost reduction. When you and I use the word cost, we mean the sum of all materials, time, and profit required to deliver a service or produce a product. When the government talks about “cost cutting,” they do not reduce the sum of “all materials, time, and profit.” They reduce their payment (of our money) to providers and institutions. Reducing such payments translates directly to reducing services. Is it reasonable that governmental “cost cutting” is code for cutting care?
Health care versus Healthcare
Even the phrase “health care” is used deceptively. As two words, health care is a service and hopefully a partnership of provider with patient. As one word, healthcare refers to the system that is supposed to help providers offer service. It is healthcare, rather than health care, that is sick. Yet Congress is changing the payment for service (health care) and doing nothing to fix healthcare. This is not a semantic difference.
If the healthcare system is sick (it is), why are they treating a symptom or a part, and not dealing with the SYSTEM itself? The answer is obvious after you answer the following question: who or what is ‘the system’?
Providers, institutions, drug companies, insurance purveyors, even Medicaid/Medicare are all parts of the system but not the system itself. The creator and supporter of our sick healthcare system is…the Federal Government. Politicians need to learn from their medical colleagues: ‘physician heal thyself.’
Though spending for healthcare keeps going up, payments for health care are being constantly cut. Where do all those increasing hundreds of billions of dollars go? Answer: to State and Federal bureaucracies and to the insurance companies they protect. The Government increases spending (paying itself) while decreasing payments that produce patient care. ‘Cost cutting will save our sick healthcare system’ may be the ultimate WMDc.
“At least it’s a start.”
Even those who hail Congressional “health care reform” reluctantly recognize its manifold flaws, inequities, and pork. They persist in their support by suspending disbelief and repeating the disingenuous mantra, “Well, at least it’s a start.” Self-styled health care reform is NOT a start. It is simply more of the same: the bureaucracy expands increasing complexity, errors and cost.
A Real Start
What is the first step in curing a patient? Answer: the patient must accept that she or he is sick. Healthcare has huge problems. The biggest problem is refusal of the patient–the U.S. government–to recognize that it is sick and must heal itself if we are to get well.
Our government is guilty of deploying weapons of mass deception.