Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flipping On Health Care

Dan Carlin is one of my favorite political commentators. Carlin started as a libertarian and espouses alot of very libertarian rhetoric regularly, though I've notice him back away from the label. It's becoming clear why. In his most recent podcast, he said to listeners pretty harshly and dramatically, "My daughter was recently denied coverage because she has hay fever, so in case any of you were wondering why I flip-flopped on some sort of government health care, that's why."

Christopher Hitchens years ago called American health care a mix of the worst of socialism and the worst of capitalism. Rationing, long lines and denials despite good standing are all occurrences, and without the socialist consolation that at least the hell you're going through won't cost you anything. No, in the United States, our bureaucratic nightmare is for profit.

Carlin's experience wasn't an anomaly, and Hitchens' diagnosis still stands over a decade later:

Cathy Wiser, a former PacifiCare policyholder from the San Fernando Valley, recalled her frustration with the company. Testifying at the outset of the administrative law hearing in December, she told how PacifiCare had rejected medical claims for her son, who had Crohn's disease, even after she repeatedly faxed over forms indicating that he was covered.

PacifiCare lost the documents in its computer system, she said, heightening her anxiety over her son's health.

"Nobody should have to go through this," Wiser said in an interview last week. "Insurance companies should not be allowed to victimize patients at their most vulnerable, when they need them the most."

Wiser's experience sounds an awful like the sort of mice maze that students and their parents have to go through in the American public school system. Conservatives and libertarians have been right in their advocacy of more individualized charter school approach, but simultaneously seek to defend a system in which all the same problems are being done by the "free market." For some reason, when people like Wiser and Carlin have to fear for the health of their children due to corporate paper shuffling, a state sanctioned version just doesn't seem as frightening.

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