Nicholas Kristof, who is rapidly pulling ahead of Gail Collins as my favorite New York Times columnist, today talked to Wendell Potter, former spinner for Cigna, the health insurance concern, now reformed.
Potter was one of the people responsible, at Cigna and before that Humana, for the meme that the Big Bad Gubmint is going to socialize our healthcare. And that this would be bad.
Would that it would happen, though! That would mean all citizens would have access to healthcare, including the sick, minorities, and the self-employed. This would be good for everyone, wouldn’t it? If people could get care when they’re sick, even if they don’t get a wage or salary—not just unemployed, I mean contractors and entrpreneurs of all sorts, any dreamer of the American Dream—they would be able to contribute to society rather than being a drain on it, such as by taking up space in a pauper’s grave. Healthy people are the ones who put into society, and society benefits proportionally from keeping them healthy.
Right now, Kristof says, the health insurance companies’ business model involves not insuring people. Possibly one of the few businesses, in fact, in which it’s considered perfectly ethical—even, according to the column, grounds for a perfect performance review—to take customers’ money and provide nothing in exchange. Even a casino offers better odd than that. But insurers frequently “seiz[e] upon a technicality to cancel the policy of someone who has been paying premiums and finally gets cancer or some other expensive disease.” In any other field, that would be un-American. In health insurance, apparently, it’s the American way.
The socialized medicine meme, alas, is fiction, a lie created to scare people into acting against their own interests. None of the half-dozen or so plans floating around involves anything like socialism, unless your definition is “something and I don’t like it.” But socialized medicine is what would help people.
If that’s what you’re interested in.