Health care for all is long overdue. All one has to do is look at the credit card commercial featuring an independent black businesswoman who announces to the camera that the cost of a six-day hospital stay due to an asthma attack came to $17,000.
The circumstances were clearly defined, but the message itself was somewhat mixed in my mind because she credited the card company with enabling her to survive by coming up with a payment plan. The question in my mind was whether the company actually paid off the medical bill or adjusted her payment schedule from a previous transaction, enabling her to avoid bankruptcy.
Her message was: “They saved my financial life.” Was the larger message that the “loan sharks” had changed their ways?
Usually, commercials are self-serving attempts by companies to promote an image of goodwill. In reality, some of the most venal and self-serving companies come up with the best commercial messages. For example, one has only to look at the commercials for the oil companies to see the truth of this premise. They talk about doing everything under the sun to help the planet — except lowering their prices.
Placing too much stock in a commercial slogan can be disastrous. To many home owners along the Gulf Coast, Nationwide was “on their side” until the hurricanes came to town. And even today, most of that area still looks like an abandoned battlefield. Yet the Republicans act as if Katrina never happened.
For as long as I can remember, hospital patients have been complaining about the HMOs coming between them and their doctors. All the time this was happening, not a peep was heard from the Republican scream machine. Apparently, they felt that the market would straighten itself out in the future. Well, the future is here.
Just as the credit card companies have used their clout with the politicians to push back on capping interest rates, no one should be surprised that the insurance companies and their HMOs are using theirs by trying to push an untruth: That government intervention means interference between a patient and his doctor. Since when?
There has also long been a disparity in the level of health care offered to the black community in this country. It is a fact that has yet to be fully addressed or explained.
So don’t be surprised when the health care battle comes to your neighborhood this summer. Just be sure to pull on your boots.