The Pipe Dream of Universal Health Care

Look, I am just like anyone else: I would love free healthcare so that I rid myself of greedy, corrupt health insurance companies. I would love to just be able to walk into a hospital or doctor’s office, get taken care of, and walk out with having to worry if that day’s healing process was covered or if I have met my deductible yet or if I have met any of the other dozen concerns that I have to worry about with health insurance.

The problem is, that is not going to be the way universal healthcare, Obamacare, or any other mandated health plan will work for the people that really need it. Universal Healthcare is a pipe dream that will only make things easier for middle to upper class families that already have it relatively easy. A few lower middle class families facing catastrophic medical debt will also benefit, but we already know most of those cases since Obama’s defenders are trotting all of them out in the media like they are the norm (even though they are really extreme outliers).

The truth is, even if we could find a way to pay for and hand out free healthcare for all U.S. residents tomorrow, most of the poor that need this help will not benefit from it. Why?

One reason is access. Many people that need health care simply don’t live close enough to a hospital or clinic to even get the care they need. They don’t have a vehicle and they don’t have enough money for bus fare. On top of that, they may not even be mobile enough to get themselves to a vehicle. So what good is free health care if they can’t even get to it?

The second reason is the issue of what is causing their health problems in the first place: diet and exercise. So even if you get these masses of people to a hospital for treatment, a large chunk of them are going to find out the best thing they can do to improve their health is for them to eat better and exercise. But most of them are probably living in a food desert and eating whatever they can find. And exercise? How? They don’t have room or money for a home gym, and probably live in an area that is not safe for exercise outside. So they are going to get health care and then find out that they still can’t get better.

Our country really doesn’t need universal healthcare as much as it needs universal health education, food chain reform, urban renewal, and host of other factors that will actually improve quality of life more than free access to doctors.

What all this fighting over universal health care is really about is finding a way to assuage the nagging guilt that the well-off have about those less fortunate. It is a simple, easy solution that we just want to throw at people and say “see! I did something!” Kind of like food stamps made us all feel like we didn’t have to go out and feed the hungry any more. We think we “did something” – but do we care if it really works?

Thankfully I married someone with a Ph.D. in Health Studies. She really opened my eyes in a lot of ways to how politicians are not doing a very good job actually helping people in ways that truly work. Its also sad how many people will throw around opinions and not even stop to ask someone like her who might know a thing or two about these issues. People really are just justifying their vote and not stopping to look at the wider issues. Or for that matter, even examine the problems with their current side.

metamodern-faith-avatarWe need to realize that in between the two sides are real people with real health issues that have been really researched by real health educators who really know the real way to help them. These hurting people don’t care what side you are on. All they know is that the two sides in the Obamacare fight are both dead wrong. When are we actually going to start looking to the people who know how to do something meaningful?