Putting “America” Back into Health Care

August 8, 2018

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Everything went smoothly at first. Ilan, the nine-year old son of American physician Benjamin Davies, MD, broke his arm on vacation in Italy. The local hospital x-rayed the arm, reduced the fractures of each bone and applied a cast. But the question of surgery could only be determined by driving to a bigger hospital 1.5 hours away.

Dr. Davies wrote: “An attending pediatric orthopedic surgeon met us within five minutes. Looking at the films he declared Ilan probably needed surgery. Or maybe not. Call you in a few days. Ciao.”

In short, “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, Ilan’s arm could have healed wrong, requiring re-breaking and re-setting. So, no payment required but plenty of angst to follow.

Welcome to Italian socialized medicine. Dr. Davies, interestingly, seems of two minds:

Pro-Socialism: “[I]f recent polling is correct—a majority of Americans now support a single-payer system. Such a system will undoubtedly have tradeoffs Americans are not used to. I know I am not. I was severely depressed and annoyed that my child couldn’t get his surgery in a timely fashion. I will freely grant that is a small price to pay for a system that provides better care for the population and doesn’t routinely bankrupt people simply because they get sick.”

Pro-Freedom: “Socialism was not on my mind as I explained to Ilan our predicament. Instead, we searched for the next flight home.” He took his freedom and ran.

But, is untimely care and angst really a small price to pay? No. Does it really not bankrupt people? Not directly, but Italy’s debt is one of the EU’s highest.

American medical care is in trouble because Congress took individuals out of the driver’s seat and established an un-American system of expensive middlemen from bureaucrats to managed care corporations (health plans), to employers, to clinic administrators, to the health data industry.

Americans don’t want to be Italy, but increasingly Americans don’t want to be America either—when it comes to health care.

Why? Because care and coverage in America doesn’t act like America. It’s scary, unaffordable and increasingly bureaucratic and impersonal. It’s a greedy corporate version of socialized medicine with no promise of access. So Medicare for All seems simpler, feels safer, and sounds compassionate. But as Italy proves for a relatively simple procedure, it’s not.

American medical care must return to the American way: the affordability of individuals controlling their own dollars (free-markets) and making their own decisions (freedom). Otherwise, we’re headed to socialism. And that is truly scary.

Restoring “America” to care and coverage,

Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder