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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

 

How About Outsourcing The Sick, Elderly And Disabled?

Beautiful Dreamers For A New Millennium

By Stephen Simac

Health is the number one concern for more Americans than any other issue, except for money. We say we have the best medical system in the world because it's so expensive. Americans are close to spending $3 trillion a year on medical care in America, but we are far from being a healthy country.

Measured strictly by basics like life span, infant mortality, teenage pregnancies, infertility, rates of disease and disabilities, our medical system is no bargain. We're way down on the list of industrialized nations, all of whom spend far less money on "socialized medicine." Dollar for dollar, even places like Jello Biafra compare favorably.

The US also has socialized medicine, but we don't call it that. Medical training is government subsidized and regulated through medicare payments and tax incentives to hospitals and institutes of conventional medicine. The medical careers field relies on socialized medicine as a foundation to support the spires of private payer care. Medicare for congress (preferred providers), the elderly, the poorest and assorted others (take what you can get) is socialized medicine. Medicare primarily picks up some pieces after illness or accidents erodes the sufficiency of individuals, families, businesses, communities.

Most political progressives favor universal coverage with a single payer system, basically channeling tax dollars or promises of them through the federal or state governments to cover medical insurance for everyone, rich or poor.

It's not a bad idea. But like Dick Gregory said, insurance is like gambling that you're gonna' lose. The cost of the single payer systems in place now, Medicare (federal) or Medicaid (state), is growing so rapidly that states will begin to declare bankruptcy under the current load. Even the feds will be staggered in the near future to run the printing presses to "pay" for an aging, unhealthy population. The cost of medical care has been rising at two or more times the rate of inflation for a few decades now, and there's no indication that will slacken.

The health of Americans right now is so bad, and the cost of American medical care rising so rapidly that it will be impossible to afford medical care for everyone. At least while we are at war with terrorism.

Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee

New year's resolution: focus on solutions to problems, write about these instead of all that nag, nag, bitch, moan journalism. Never worked nohow. Affirmations are like seeding the noosphere. Not the nonosphere. What's the use of pointing out all the errors of the past? Even those of the present are too well embedded in the matrix to be changed by critique. It's like trying to reason with concrete.

We are well into a new millennium by now. Progressives will have to create a new Age of Enlightenment, begin a new rennaisance if we are unwilling to remain in the Dark Ages. A strong vision of Paradise feeds on ideas for a better world, a healthier, safer, cleaner world, sustained with fairness and balance, and all those good things.

Improving the health of Americans to reduce medical care would probably be easier than lowering the cost of treatment. Less resistance from entrenched interests. It's not rocket science to improve overall health. Regular exercise, quit smoking, eat more vegetables, blah, blah, blah. In a world of temptation it can be an effort, even expensive. A little too much stress and the path of least resistance will always be sliding down a greasy chute towards an overstuffed couch in front of someone else's reality tv show.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

We could always outsource our medical care. We're already outsourcing our pharmaceutical supplies. If Canada has cheap pharmaceuticals, check out Brazil or Mexico. You usually don't even need a doctor to prescribe them, there.

There is no doubt that it would cost far less to ship our ill, the elderly, the depressed and disabled, the injured and addicted Americans off to foreign lands for adequate if not superior health care. Put 'em on underutilized cruise ships, medically supervised, low cal diet with spa services-hot stone massage, bikini waxes, the works.

Drop em off for a few weeks of treatment with whatever the specialty of that port of call is. Chinese herbs, mercury enemas, voodoo pickles, or just plain vitamin D. With our health record we're in no position to point fingers. Pick em up on the way back with a tan, or in a casket if the cure don't take. No need to worry about greedy trial lawyers driving up costs, the laws are different out there.

There's no reason patients couldn't choose from preferred locations for their treatment, based on their special needs. There's certain countries that are already known for their slimming diet at a real bargain.

It's everyone's oyster, step up get your pear

Screw single payer insurance, catastrophic or preferred provider, just get me on that boat. As long as it has warm, sandy beaches, and they put the lime in the coconut, doctor. Even just looking forward to regular health care treatments like this would reduce stress levels better than a placebo. That could reduce symptoms by half, put a slow leak in ballooning medical costs on the home front.

Now of course, the medical industry is a significant employer so we'd have to go slowly. Offer relaxing rotations for medical jobs on the cruise ships to lubricate resistance against the idea. Get the cruise ship industry behind it. Link it with lower taxes.

Start with the elderly who no one visits, the drunks and addicts who no one helps, and those who can't be helped, congress of course. Uninsured Americans who are charged several times more for hospital care than insured could be offered freedom of choice.

With tangerine trees and marmalade skies

There's a way to use this to clear up both the undocumented alien and social security mess. We could offer enough vetted visas to countries for their citizens who want to visit or work in America. These could be dependent on numbers of US patients/visitors/retirees who choose to get their medical care-vacations-affordable retirement in that country.

The now documented workers could pay into social security, with a percentage going into their own foreign retirement funds. The balance would help pay for social security for the booming masses of American retirees, who could then affordably retire to Mexico or wherever.

Sick Americans would be providing employment in poorer (but healthier) countries. There'd be fewer who'd work in some far away, unhealthy country for minimum wage or worse. Then our own teenagers would have to take those jobs, paying for their grannies stay in Baja. It could get ugly.

Of course there's always gonna' be resistance to any progressive idea. The naysayers, nattering nabobs of negativity, the no-noers. Dreamers of Paradise just have keep pushing the snooze button on their alarum.

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