Unprescribed Medicine

When I was a kid and perchance my brother or I got sick, my Mom would schlep us in the car to the doctor’s office on Robertson Blvd.

The schlep didn’t come, of course, until it was fully determined that the medical problem couldn’t be solved with a tab of St. Joseph’s children’s aspirin and bedrest.

We didn’t make frivolous office visits for sneezing and sniffles; we held out for the more serious stuff like measles and chicken pox.

Anyway, Mom would drive us to the GP, we’d get exams, a diagnosis and maybe a prescription. We didn’t have “health insurance,” so my mother would pay cash at the little window by the front door.

End of story. There was no “co-pay,” no “deductable,” no “bill the insurance,” no “go to a specialist.” Just simple “fee for service” or “pay out of your own pocket.”

The doc had his own practice and he could give us as much time as he wanted

For those who think the terms “fee for service” or “out of pocket” sound like a foreign language, well, “health insurance” is actually a relatively recent invention. Prior to the first half of the 20th century, there was no such thing as health insurance.

In 1850, what was known as “accident insurance” (aka “disability insurance”) was first sold by a company in Massachusetts. This was offered to insure against injuries resulting from steamboat or railroad accidents.

Employer-paid health insurance did not evolve until the 1920s. The first employer-sponsored hospital plan was created by teachers in Dallas, Texas in 1929.

So how did we get from steamboat accidents to HMOs to ‘Obamacare’?

Contrary to the socialist/progressive segment of the US population, health care insurance is not an “entitlement.”

Employer-paid health coverage was originally a response to strict federally-imposed wage controls during World War II. The labor market was tight because of the war, so in order to get around wage-control, employers began offering “fringe benefits” such as sick leave and healthcare coverage to attract more employees. In fact, employer-paid health benefits were considered taxable income until 1954.

Well, one generation leads to another and after awhile folks came to believe that they were entitled to employer-sponsored healthcare.

Admittedly, when I entered the work force in the 1970s, I thought that employee health insurance was simply the status quo for any job. And besides, I mostly just took it for granted, being young and immortal and all that stuff.

In 1945, Harry S. Truman was the first US president to suggest a public health plan, but the American Medical Association (AMA) condemned it as socialism and that ended that.

But…(of course there’s a “but”!)…in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into effect Medicare and Medicaid legislation. The good part is, as we know, that it’s a great benefit to senior citizens, disabled people and children.

The bad part is that out-of-control medical fees, new technology, designer prescription drugs and patient demand are bankrupting the system.

Of course, the United States healthcare system is a heckuva lot more convoluted and complicated to explain than what can be written in a single blogpost.

I’m not an expert, by any means, in economics or the intricacies of insurance policy.

But what I do know, is that government-sponsored healthcare is a very dangerous and risky business.

In March 2010, “Obamacare” (the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”) was signed into law. This is the same bloated healthcare package about which Nancy Pelosi stated: “But we have to pass the [health care ] bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Beginning on January 1, 2014, any individual who does not purchase public health insurance will be fined an annual fee of $95 or 1% of income, whichever is greater. In 2016, that penalty goes up to $695 or 2.5% of income.

Okay, so that’s just one small part of the healthcare bill that nobody-really-knows-what’s-in-it.

BUT…REQUIRING any individual in the Republic of the United States of America to buy something is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

That should be a big enough Red Flag to any concerned citizen. But one generation has led to another and American “progressives” now consider the Constitution to be a trivial document.

On June 2011, Time Magazine featured a depiction of a shredded Constitution with the question, “Does It Still Matter?” (Nevermind the better question, “Does Time Magazine still matter?”)

Well, in a nutshell, since “We the People” are still in charge of the government rather than the government in charge of us, uh…yes, it still matters.

But I digress…kind of….

Earlier I asked, “How did we get from steamboat accidents to HMOs to ‘Obamacare’?”

Part of the answer is that there are SOME who would have us believe that the Constitution is irrelevant and that we would all do better living under the steel-toed boot of socialism.

Or maybe it’s just inconvenient that nowhere in the Constitution does it state that citizens are entitled to…uh…entitlements.

In my opinion, “fee for service” could work again, considering that it worked just fine from 1776 to 1929.

But that’s just me…I like to keep things simple…. (Well, I TRY….) And I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. And the pay-as-you-go schlep with Mom to the doctor’s office was a helluva lot more comforting than the possiblity of putting my health into the hands of the government.

©June 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver

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About pjh95811

I am a writer and poet living in California. I love cats, dogs, nature, poetry, spirituality and the Pacific Ocean.
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