We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When it comes to health care, liberals and conservatives often seem to be living in two different worlds. To those on the left, America's health-care system is a heartless capitalist jungle: a place where the bottom line is king, and the working poor are exploited. President Obama, for example, has accused insurance companies of holding Americans hostage in exchange for profits, and doctors of cashing in on children's sore throats by needlessly removing their tonsils. The right, meanwhile, sees American health care as an outpost of socialism: The government distorts prices and suppresses innovation, impairing the quality and affordability of care and constraining individual autonomy. Hence Republicans' call for less government involvement in insurance, and their complaints that heavy-handed Medicare rules are the source of our woes.
Simply put, liberals believe that health care is treated as a market commodity today but should not be, and conservatives think that health care is not treated as a market commodity but should be.
One of the conservative arguments about health care is the prediction of explosive growth in the use of health care when it appears to be free. I have serious doubts about that.
There's probably some truth to the idea that I'll at least go along with an additional diagnostic test or a minor medical procedure if I'm going to pay little or nothing for it. Cost is only one reason to decide whether or not to have a health care procedure, though. My sweetheart's big objection to having a mammogram isn't the cost, it's the squeeeeze. I used to work for a urologist (really) and I can't imagine accepting any procedure we did just because it was cheap for the patient. Very few people will undertake major medical care because it's cheap, nor can we forego it because it's expensive.
Most people will spend most of their life-long health care dollars during the last twelve months of life. For most, that's in the last stages of terminal illness like COPD, heart disease or cancer. For a few, that's the horrendous expense of treatment for a sudden accident or illness that overwhelms them in a matter of days. I can't vouch for the case, but remember that Jim Henson (Kermit the Frog) died within a couple of days of entering ICU. He probably had more health care expense in his last 48 hours than in the previous 48 years.
Those expenses will only go down if some people -- a lot of people -- decide to accept palliative care rather than attempting a cure. That was my mother's decision at 78; my church friend, 75, is going for a cure. What parent of a teenager is going to say, "For that kind of money, make my son comfortable and let him die"?
It's a real dilemma and I don't have the answer. I don't believe Demcare is going to increase the usage of healthcare very much. I expect it to make healthcare harder to use -- ration by waiting list.