Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hooray for the red, white and blue.

Remarkably, Americans of all political stripes have long reserved for our veterans the purest form of socialized medicine, the vast health system operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs... If socialized medicine is as bad as so many on this side of the Atlantic claim, why have both political parties ruling this land deemed socialized medicine the best health system for military veterans? Or do they just not care about them?” ...
Occasionally one does come across an American politician who mutters something about privatizing the V.A. health system. I doubt this idea would have much political traction... In fact, I would dare presidential candidates professing a distaste for socialized medicine to call openly for abolition of the V.A. health system in favor of a purely privatized system – e.g., a defined contribution system such as that advocated for Medicare by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin...
So far I have not received a satisfactory answer from detractors of “socialized medicine” to my question of why we have the V.A. health system when socialized medicine putatively is so evil. Perhaps some commentators ... will enlighten me - Uwe Reinhardt (Economists View)

 It occurred to me early in my naval career, such as it was, that I was working and living in a socialist system. Looking at it realistically from my first day of boot camp and for the rest of my life, except for a short period in the 70's I was a ward of the state, regular paychecks commensurate with my time in service and paygrade. Each paygrade being the same as any other branch of service depending on specialty or needs of the military. Also throw in medical, dental and housing benefits and even an allowance for meals. Pretty good deal I thought so then and i think so now, though I bitched and moaned as a sailor should. So I would say was raised as a good socialist though of course we were not indoctrinated into that philosophy and our job was to fight for free enterprise.

  Last month I got to experience another aspect to socialism that Americans don't like to discuss; Socialised health care. As a Navy retiree I have medical benefits that for a few dollars a month and my willingness to be seen in a Naval Medical facility gives me cheap and easy access to medical help. In October I had another heart attack and blood flow was completely stopped to my lower extremities. I went from ER immediately to ICU. After 3 days of stabilization I went for placement of what turned out to be 17 stents. That fixed part of the problem but I still need more work as the loss of blood flow to my heart has done severe damage that will need to be addressed as soon as I get a bit stronger.

  So I got off track a bit. This was about socialized medicine. four years ago when I had cancer and was hospitalized for three months I had full insurance through my employer for which I payed a pretty good monthly sum plus my navy medical benefits payed for all of what turned out to be $300,000 worth of care in a civilian hospital with civilian doctors. Another good deal. You see I have no ax to grind here. I will say that my experience under socialized medicine compared favorably; in fact somewhat better than my experience in the civilian sector. However,  I was fortunate. I knew when I signed those re-enlistment contracts that this was part of the pot of gold waiting at the end of my military service rainbow. I counted on it being there when I needed it. They did right by me.

  3-4 years ago there was much talk of going to a single payer system of medicine similar to Canada's and Britain's National health care. My experience and my compassion support this option. Obamacare, what's left of the push to go to Universal Healthcare in the US is a good program despite some flaws such as most things designed by committee have, is already helping the economically disadvantaged including children and senior citizens. Another thing that intrigues me is that health care under their system costs about a third of that in the US. That means that as a country we pay two thirds more and I wonder where does that money go?