Friday, October 02, 2009

Freedom vs. Greater Good of Society

In the United States, everyone is debating on how to reform the healthcare and it seems there are as many ways of reforming the broken healthcare system (that everyone agrees) as there are special interests and lobby groups such as the insurance companies and drug companies who are spending millions of dollars to win their side of the argument with the lawmakers.

Joining the debate bandwagon, an alliance made up of major health agencies, including the American Diabetes Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and two former surgeon generals, wants to reverse the obesity epidemic by investing more in health promotion and disease prevention, especially to kids. The alliance has urged the lawmakers to pass legislation and deal with this alarming health problem which is not only dangerous by enormously expensive.

The group says the American children are getting addicted to poor diets--loaded with salt, sugar and fat--and sedentary lifestyles, which leads to cancer, heart disease and diabetes later on, costing billions of dollars to the taxpayer. Obesity-related spending contributes $150 billion to healthcare spending each year. (Link. HealthDay)

Amid the media coverage of the often rowdy and sometimes abusive language against any form of national healthcare heard in the townhall meetings, it is stunning to read that America- the world's only superpower and the world's largest economy, is expanding a free health service meant to take modern medicine to the third world as reported on CBS.

"People from all around Los Angeles have been lining up around the clock since Monday - waiting, hoping to get free medical care.

Some 1,500 people a day - many working poor, almost all with little or no health insurance - file into L.A.'s cavernous Forum to see hundreds of doctors, dentists, and optometrists. All of these medical professionals are volunteers. All of these people are in need.

Larry Durst's disability check won't cover the glasses he needs. He says without this clinic he would suffer and go without.

Kenya Smith needs a checkup for two-week-old Zoe. Her insurance doesn't cover it.

"They wanted $1,500 for just to be seen by the doctor plus co-payments. That was a lot of money I thought," she said.

Anna Garcia got in line Tuesday for dental work. She works for Orange County, has five children, and her husband is out of work. The co-pay for three year old Aizza's root canal: $1,000.

"I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want her to lose her teeth. So I once read about this program, and I had to take advantage of it, even if it meant missing a couple of days of work," she said.

The program is run by Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group established 24 years ago to take modern medicine to the third world. Today they do some 40 multi-day free clinics a year - 65 percent of them now in the U.S.

"There are about 49 million people who don’t have access to the care they need. They simply can’t afford it," says Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical."

The debate over healthcare reform in the United States centers around questions of a person's right to health care, access, fairness, sustainability, and quality purchased by the high sums spent by the taxpayers. The mixed public-private health care system in the United States is the most expensive in the world, with health care costing more per person than in any other industrialised nation. The U.S. is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system.

Just like the American tobacco industry and their lobbysts who spend vast sums of money to influence lawmakers and persuade people, particularly younger people, that smoking is an assertion of freedom and liberty- so too does the drug and insurance companies and the lobbysts of the private healthcare industry spend vast sums of money to kill off any legislation that will bring in a public option which can compete with the private healthcare.

The present healthcare debate has pitted two opposing ideologies against each other, and a proper balance between them needs to be found to satisfy the majority of the people.

President Obama, the democratic president considers health care a freedom issue: everyone should walk as equals under the same insurance umbrella. That people are left out in the rain is contrary to the American ethos.

Conversely, Republicans see it as a liberty issue. Obama's reform plan leads to some with the individual's power of choice. In large part, this choice is the choice of how to spend one's money, but there is no small amount of philosophical objection to government telling you what to do -- that's also contrary to the American ethos.

Read about the five freedoms Americans will likely loose if the public option of the healthcare reform bill intended to provide affordable healthcare to the poor and compete against the private insurance is enacted into law.

United States of America- the world's great bastion of freedom- is deeply skepical of any program such as the universal healthcare that gives power to their government to control any aspect of their lives.

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