Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scary Health Care Reform












(click on the image to enlarge)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Two Sides of the Aisle.

Because of the cartoon above, I got a lot of hate mail from readers who are against government-run health care and/or are regular viewers of Fox News. I thought I'd spend a couple of minutes today explaining my position on health care reform, not as any kind of expert, of course, just from my vantage point as one who cannot afford health care in America.

I make a decent amount of money, but I'm not rich. I'm also self employed, so no one provides any kind of insurance for me, I have to buy it. Health insurance costs vary from state to state, but here in NYC, the cheapest I can find for my wife and I, with a large deductible, is over $1000 a month. That's another mortgage payment each month, into the pockets of super wealthy insurance execs, in all likelihood for nothing. Statistics show that if I ever want to use that insurance there is an excellent chance they'll find a way to deny me. That's how they make their profits. My wife had serious brain and heart surgery when she was 20, so just about anything that happens to her now will be called a "pre-existing condition." You can bet on it.

So here I sit, a reasonably famous guy who makes a decent living, unable to afford to get sick. Sure, I can afford the occasional doctor's visit or prescription, and do, but if either my wife or I are ever in an accident or get a serious disease, we're out of luck. We can't afford insurance and we can't afford to pay for the care. So we die.

This is clearly an unfair system tilted heavily toward the corporations running it. This dilemma does not exist in any other wealthy nation. Government run health care does. And it works. It's not perfect, but anyone who has spent any time going through America's current health care system knows that it is far from perfect, too. Most people describe it as a nightmare.

Yes, it is popular in the U.S. to be fearful of the government, and throwing around scary words like "socialism" is a very effective way to herd people in the direction you want them to go. There has virtually never been a time in human history when this kind of tactic did not work. But all of the top nations in the world are a combination of socialism and capitalism, including ours. Medicare, Social Security, VA hospitals, welfare, public schools, road repair, anything you pay taxes for is a form of socialism. Some people imagine it would be better if none of those things existed and we all got to keep all our money and just "pay as we go" for these services, provided by private companies. But history shows that private industry is just as likely to screw up and cheat the consumer as any government. A combination of socialism and capitalism works best, which is why it is so prevalent worldwide.

A public, non-profit health plan provided by the government is socialism, yes, but no moreso than Medicare or Social Security (which have worked well for decades, despite Fox News' inaccurate reports of their impending bankruptcy), and will not interfere with your option to pay a private insurer through the nose and take your chances when you make a claim, if that is your choice.

If you're getting your information from Fox News, that is your right, but you are kidding yourself if you think it is anywhere close to "fair and balanced." Any number of independent agencies and studies have invariably clearly shown FN is guilty of habitual misinformation, routine and obvious inaccuracies, and a consistent support of the will and benefit of a handful of the world's most powerful corporations, who already have far too much influence in Washington.

Simply put, Fox News is not journalism, it is propaganda. And not because their opinion disagrees with mine, because much of what they say is demonstrably false, and always supports the narrow interests of a small handful of the uber-wealthy. Millions of Americans are being tricked into fighting for the very corporations that threaten our freedom and welfare. When every other large news agency in the world is saying something is bright and Fox News is the only one saying it is dark, especially when the ten wealthiest and most powerful people in the world are selling light bulbs, be very suspicious.

People opposing health care are afraid the government will control their lives. Right now, huge corporations control our lives by controlling our health care and virtually every other aspect of our lives. At least I can vote against a government. I have no recourse against CEOs.

Your opinions may vary, that's fine. I'm just hoping there will be a way to afford to go to a hospital before I actually need it.

37 comments:

Swanksalot said...

Pretty much the same in the Big Potato (ie, Chicago). Our deductible is $5,000, but our premiums are still an unfunny joke, with a bonus - a nagging feeling that if we ever needed insurance, we would not get it. Yayy, capitalism…

janessa said...

Super well put. I especially liked your lightbulb analogy.

Steph said...

Amen!

M. Bouffant said...

Not to mock the lovely Mrs. Bizarro in any way, but was that some sort of Wizard of Oz operation she went through, w/ the brain & heart?

jeremy said...

This American Life just did two great shows on the current state of the health care system. You can listen here. In a lot of cases the insurance companies can't be blamed for the rates they charge. They are a product of having an entire system that is messed up. TAL does a great job of reporting on this issue. Just the opposite of Fox News it turns out.

Anonymous said...

A two-tier system would be nice. In Canada waiting for free health care can be a nightmare as well.

jeremy said...

I neglected to mention that the episodes you want to listen to are 391 and 392.

Karyl Miller said...

Dan, excellent article/explanation!
Liked the cartoon too.

LysergicAsset said...

Thanks for writing this and for sharing your very relevant personal experience. Of course, I doubt it will make any difference in changing the so-called minds of people who consider Fox News to be the TV equivalent of the Bible.

jordon.robischon said...

Dan, You're great.

I will admit to you the idea of government running health care scares the balls out of me. I dont know why, but the idea automatically reminds me of a "1984"-ish country. I certainly hope this wouldn't happen. I realize we are a MIXED capitalist country and that's ok, I just wonder how often my condition wouldn't be important enough to help me or something. I get really bad acid reflux, but would that be important enough for me to be seen right away. I was reading the horror stories about how people in Canada wait 2 years for an MRI!!! Healthcare needs to be fixed but, MY MAIN CONCERN!!! Why cant I find these new healthcare proposals? Seriously, I am not going to vote for of against anything that I cant read myself! I have searched the internet but all I can come up with is a news sites abridged version of the papers. Do you know where I can find a complete and unedited version of it? I dont know, I found it on the Barack Obama website and stuff, but I want details. I'm with you though Dan, but I am cautious. I just like to read all the fine print myself.

Yet Another Steve said...

Can there be anything more odious than people who are eagerly accepting healthcare from Medicare, or Medi-Cal, or the Veteran's Administration, or indeed cushy well-funded Congressperson health care (also government-provided), saying that government health care doesn't work, is socialistic, and so on? Their rantings would have a lot more credibility if they gave up their "terrible" government health care and voluntarily went to buy private health insurance on their own. Which, of course, they won't do, because hey, who can afford THAT? Grrrrr.

Lori said...

I completely agree with you on all counts. The comic is funny, too. I'm certain that you angered quite a few crazy people who insanely believe that the word "socialism" equals "evil."

Stephene said...

BRAVO!

ManEatingBadger said...

this was a sorely needed commentary on Fox News, Mr. Piraro, the faith some put in Fox would be comical if only it weren't so fervent... nice cartoons as always, btw, and there's always the old wisdom that hate mail is the surest way to know your stuff is being read.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Piraro - Ignore those haters. Ones who criticize are generally ones who do nothing. Unhappy people forget themselves and send all the blames to others. I love your cartoon showing "happy guys" prizing the Atheist Café.

Ryan said...

As a Canadian and a outsider who is in deep financial trouble, you situation scares me! I am within the top 10% of global wealth*, but $1000 for "health" insurance; yikes!

I watched Sicko and was a proud Canadian to be mentioned. I was also saddened by the victims of 9-11 and WE were not doing more. It was the Cubans, the "American" public enemy, who did the most.

The good news is your system is broken. That is a start to fix anything. The bad news is the rich only get richer and anyone in the 99% financial average has little or no pull.

I wish you the best...

Ryan Peterman
Dedicated & Long-Time Reader

*http://www.globalrichlist.com

Anonymous said...

As another person who simply cannot afford insurance (or a savings, despite my best efforts and budgeting) I feel I can relate. My family fears getting ill, and almost always refuses medical care (insisting that they are 'fine, really') simply because they'd rather take their chances than have to pay the money we don't have.

For example, I carried a cough (and by cough I mean painful all through the day, often in fits until I couldn't breathe at all and had tears streaming down my face coughing, sometimes with a little bit of blood involved simply due to the amount of coughing being done) for three and a half years before it got so bad that my mother went into overdraft to pay for an appointment for me to find out what I had, and pray that I could afford whatever medicine I may be given for it.

I was able to afford the treatment for three months, and I skimped on that last month's pills to make it last as long as I could. The pills are gone. That cough is returning.

I have a very difficult time not punching people who seem to believe everyone can afford insurance and/or healthcare, and/or assume anyone who doesn't have health insurance already doesn't deserve it. And by punching, I mean I'd probably end up behind bars for not stopping.

RaleighRob said...

Best. Post. Ever.

Unfortunately, knee-jerk radicals on the far-right will never understand anything you say nor will they try. But you eloquently describe the situation quite well and accurately for any level-headed person to read. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Dan.. Fox News seems to have copied their 'reporting style' straight from a polit bureau! Not that there isn't any propaganda coming from the other side of the political journalistic spectrum. As always, double check and think for yourself before coming to an opinion...

As a dutch citizen the animosity towards a government run health care system really surprises me. We've had it for decades and as you said, it isn't perfect, but it sure as hell is better then people falling ill and having no other option than to eat up their savings plans. Which in turns leads to a whole host of negative side effects, on society as a whole, not just those individuals affected.

All in all, be critical and use your vote wisely...

Sam said...

This has got to be the best, most insightful commentary on an "average" American's experience with health insurance I've come across. Not only are you a hilarious artist, you're an insightful one as well. I'm sure most will dismiss you as a "Liberal New Yorker"... (or worse.)

Most of the knee-jerk reactions I've seen have more to do with Obama-hating than anything else. It's a sad state of affairs that half of Americans seem to be opposed to these reforms primarily because it's a black president offering it. I read a piece on the weekend that ended with "And if health care was being reformed by anyone but Obama, America would be fully on board."

It's terrifying that they're trying to use "socialism" - which, as you say, is already fully entrenched in America, mostly introduced by REPUBLICANS - as a terrible thing.

It boggles my mind that these rich fat cats can provoke so much terror amongst the poor (because, let's be honest - it's primarily poor, under-educated people who seem to be terrified of government run health care) to the point that these people who would benefit from these reforms are championing, as you say, the cause of the rich insurance companies.

$1000-$5000 bucks a month??? For something you may NEVER need???

America is effed up! (Long live Canada!)

doug nicodemus said...

well spoken...funny cartoon...hahaha on the dan scale...my soninlaw liked the bank one...he said if he would have seen it before halloween he would have dressed that way ...oh as someone who has only rarely had health insurance i concur with every last word...it is sad that at 54 all i can do is pray..

ojeano said...

Right on and thank you! I'll post a link to this on my blog so my twelve readers can read it too. I hope this reaches a wide audience - you said it just right! Here's to everybody's good health - and suitably adequate, reasonable, and satisfying health coverage in the near future!

Rebecca C. Brown said...

@jordon.robischon

Horror stories about Canadian healthcare are like all horror stories about mythical bogymen: gruesome and untrue.

Check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada#Wait_times

"The median wait time for diagnostic services such as MRI and CAT scans is two weeks with 86.4% waiting less than 3 months."

Here in the states I got to wait 2 weeks for my MRI, and I paid $800 for the privilege.

Christiann said...

I, too, hate the way "socialism" is used as a scare tactic in this country. I've taken to saying to folks, "just went for a run in my socialized state park, went to my socialized mail service, and sent a package to my friend in our socialized military. It was a good day to be a filthy socialist today." Thanks, Dan, for your great work!

Geronimo D. Bull said...

death sucks, I suppose. Thank you for saying this. In sociology the professor asked how we planned to get our health insurance. I said I was hoping Obama would pull through, everyone laughed. What's so funny? The industry I'm looking at has fewer and fewer corporate jobs, and thus no health insurance. I'm 19, if Fox had their way, and current trends continued, I would never see healthcare coverage, just pay endlessly.

Allan said...

just like the Dutch Anon above, i'm also surprised at the refusal of a government healthcare system. here in Malaysia, we've had it since time immemorial, and the only problem is that there are always very long lines, the waiting room always filled up. but i'd rather put up with that than to live with the risk of having to sit and wait to die in the case of a serious disease/illness.

my mother had cancer a few years ago, and it took only a short while for her to get a full diagnosis and treatment. she was well taken care of, and today, she has fully recovered. altogether we spent less than US$300. and that's for a few years of treatment and hospitalisation.

as for me, i was in a bad car crash a couple years ago. i was in a government-run hospital for a week before being transferred to my company's private panel hospital. but i had surgery at the public hospital, and all it cost me was something like US$1.50.

so, Americans, wake up! it's not as bad and scary as those with vested interests want you to believe!

John said...

Regarding Rebecca's link to the wikipedia article: the correct link is here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_canada

As a Canadian, I am astonished to hear about how much people in the US pay for health care... including my sister, who married an Idahoan guy and told of having to pay for an extra ultrasound, etc. during pregnancy (due to possible complications during pregnancy) Unreal!

My dad, who grew up in post-WW2 Germany in the socialist vacuum filled by the Soviets at the time, told me what people joked about communism at the time: "In communist state, everyone is equal... but some are more equal than others."

Weird how this applies to the US, with life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness for all, except those unable to afford it, or are just plain unlucky, etc., etc.

Frank said...

Fox News propaganda? What about CBS's Dan Rather using fraudulent documents to influence the outcome of a presidential election. And as to your government run healthcare, today in Pittsburgh a Canadian woman with a brain tumor showed up for medical treatment. A collection for her surgery is requested. Apparently, Canada's government run health care doesn't feel her life isn't worth anymore costs. I

If you want cheaper insurance, why are you not allowed to cross state lines? You can only get New York health insurance. Car insurance is competitive and nation wide. Also, why doesn't the Obama merely allow 100% tax credits for purchasing health insurance? Because its about the power dummy, much like your light bulb analogy.

Dave said...

Dan, perhaps you and your readers missed the PEW study and the Berkley study of news organizations which concluded that Fox was the least biased of the news networks.

Second, nobody is guaranteed health care under our constitution. To be guaranteed means you are taking money out of someone else's pocket to pay for it. Fair?

Stick to your comics, which are funny. Your politics are obvious and are not funny to many of us.

Piraro said...

@Dave said...
I'd love to see the two reports you're talking about. My Google search can't locate them.

Regarding the U.S. constitution's omission of health care, I care more about the quality and equality of life in America than I do about worshiping ancient documents written by humans as fallible as we. The Bible and constitution included.

John said...

Dan -
Here it is:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News_Channel_controversies
- this wiki entry has reference to the studies related to media bias & F-news, as referred to in Dave's post.
ps.(I can find jut about anything... eerie, isn't it?!)

Piraro said...

@John...
Thanks for that link, John. That article seems very thorough but there still isn't mention of any studies that found FOX to be more accurate than the other networks. Which doesn't surprise me, because I suspect they don't exist.

Terrific reading, however.

sofia poullada said...

Thumbs up, Dan. Your cartoon was one of the best laughs of the week. Ignore the "yellers". It's 100% clear that the "government take over of health care" nonsense is just one more rallying point for people who can't stand the fact that their candidate LOST in the last election.

Frank said...

Hey Sofia, are you kidding me? Not a day goes by that George Bush isn't blamed for something. He was hated by you people for eight years simply because your candidates lost.

primerica insurance said...

Very nicely said. The current system is nothing but a huge moneymaker for the insurance companies. A system where profit is more important than the patient's health is never a good one, I'd even say, it's the worst one possible.

Lorne

Jessica said...

Your posts are well thought out. Love 'em or hate 'em, the more attention Fox gets, the more they benefit. As does the White House and the government and the parties and the pundits and the pundits' pundits and so on. The whole lot of them love the drama, it keeps them relevant. I say 'meh' to all of it. Real news comes from primary sources, or as close to them as possible. It takes a little more effort than watching your favorite talking head but at least you can parse out the truth on your own. There's your fair and your balanced. :)

Anonymous said...

Government "affordable healthcare" is an oxymoron. I understand that we have severe healthcare problems in this country. But government healthcare "at any cost" is not the answer. Our government has proven to be very poor managers of the taxpayers' hard earned money (e.g. Social Security, Medicare, Postal Service). The polls show that all but a few Americans do not trust our elected representatives, yet you and others out of desperation are willing to sign on with Mr. Obama and the Democrats. Doesn't make sense to me. Fix our system; don't try to impose the failed systems of Europe. Thank you.