T.R. Reid, the author of "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care" recently wrote about the five myths that are fueling the debate for Health Care Reform in the United States, but the most persistent myth of all, he says is that "America has the finest health care in the world".
Perhaps this is why there is such a strong reaction to the current debate that is going on in Congress and in the country. Americans like to be the best and questioning or examining the present health care system magnifies the problems within it which seems to bring a sense of fear and vulnerability to many Americans.
What is Vulnerability?According to the Livestrong.com website, one definition of vulnerability fits well in regards to the health care struggles for change: Vulnerability is the fear of being trapped or imprisoned in a situation where feelings and rights are ignored.
It seems that Americans are fearful that if changes are put into place for different health care options they will be trapped in some system that is worse than what currently exists. Fear is overshadowing the dialogues that are essential in order to make changes that are wise and workable.
The Town Hall meetings that have been held in cities and in towns throughout the United States are great examples of how vulnerability and fear interrupt discussions. This is what fear and vulnerability look like--people fighting with any emotional or irrational weapons that they are able to find. They are scared that a way of life in the United States will soon be gone.
The Reality of Health Care in the U.S.The current health care system of private insurance companies is built on capitalism which means these companies exist to provide health care, but also to make a profit. This means that decisions about insurance coverage and approved medical procedures are often viewed from a fiscal standpoint more than a health care perspective.
The costs for medical care not covered by insurance or beyond the allowable limitscontinue to increase and often leads to bankruptcy. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, of Harvard Medical School surveyed 2,314 people who filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and found that 62.1% of the bankruptcies were medically related. A similar survey in 2001 found only 46% of the bankruptcies filed were medically related.
Medicare does provide care for those over 65 and those that are found to be disabled, but many people who are elderly, pay for supplemental insurance to be sure that they have more options and better coverage. Health Insurance costs for self-employed people is very expensive and if a pre-existing medical condition is present, it may not be an option at all.
The present health care system in the United States is not a model for other countries, because it is a system that is need of change. Fear of the unknown and a sense of vulnerability is overshadowing the realities of health care in America. The need for honest, open, rational dialogue about the present health care system is needed, but right now it may be too frightening for too many people for that to occur.