Sicko, Meet Slicko

As many of you know, I’ve been rantless for a while now, laid low by illness right here in the heartless bosom of an uncaring nation that has universal healthcare.

I was waiting for something that would set my feet back on the path of righteous anger, and sure enough it came in the form of this little gem of a press release from something called FreedomWorks …

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… as honest and forthright as your average salesman from Slicko Healthcare Insurance, the for-profit corporation that is happy to enroll you in their program for a ridiculous monthly premium (provided you are not sick, swear to never become sick, and can vouch for the fact that your bank account is even healthier than you purport to be).

As someone living in Canada, one of those wacky countries that provide government-funded healthcare along with every other industrialized nation on the face of the earth except one (hint: first two initials being “U” and “S”), I believe I am qualified to speak to the issues raised by FreedomWorks and the other oh-so-ill-informed (or should that be ill and uninformed) rightwing minions who are intent on obfuscating the truth about government-funded healthcare faster than you can yell “Free Scooter Libby!”.

Let’s start with Lie No. 1, shall we? “Moore’s approach would make the government responsible for providing health care to all Americans.”

As is the case with all nations who provide universal healthcare, the Canadian government is not responsible for providing medical care to a single citizen. Professional Canadian medical practitioners are responsible for providing healthcare; the role of government is to reimburse them for their services.

And as is usual with these ignore-that-man-behind-the-curtain types, Lie No. 1 is always followed by Scare Tactic No. 1 – and nothing scares the embarrassingly flimsy hospital gown off a right-winger’s ass faster than the idea that their hard-earned dollars are going to be used to care for anyone other than themselves: “Healthy individuals that require minimal care would wind up subsidizing people like Moore, who are overweight and/or live decidedly unhealthy lifestyles by frequenting fast-food restaurants, smoke, or use drugs.”

Yes, that’s right, folks. Under a government-subsidized healthcare system, your tax dollars will never under any circumstances be used to care for the hard-working, selfless minister of your local church whose Leukemia requires him to have a life-saving bone-marrow transplant. They will instead always be funneled to some fast-food guzzling hippo who spends ninety percent of his waking hours in the smoking section of the local bar, snorting coke off a plate of whipped cream-laden Twinkies, a pile o’ Cheez-Whiz, and a dozen Big Macs soaked in Tequila.

And what would the impact of Scare Tactic No. 1 be without the follow-up of Scare Tactic No. 2, the specter of government being involved in every aspect of healthcare? “In the 2008 election cycle, Americans will have a choice between market based reforms that empower individuals and families, or socializing health care and turning it over to bureaucrats.”

This kind of Slicko lingo is meant to conjure up the nightmare scenario of every visit to the doctor becoming akin to a day at the DMV, a nightmarish maze of endless lines, red tape, and paperwork that must be filed in triplicate and bear the notarized signatures of at least two Cabinet members and one member of Congress: “Hello, Senator Hatch? Dr. Bergman over at Mount Sinai here. One of your constituents just turned up in the ER, and I’m wondering if you can sign-off on the emergency appendectomy before he succumbs to – yes, sir, of course I’ll hold.”

It’s actually a very simple concept, folks: for-profit healthcare means just that, it is being run for a profit, and that profit comes right out of your wallet.

In the Canadian system, a portion of every citizen’s tax dollars are set aside to pay for the services of healthcare professionals; nothing more, nothing less. On the other hand, paying premiums to a for-profit insurance company means that every dollar they can save by not spending it on your healthcare needs is a dollar that goes into the pockets of the corporation’s shareholders.

In short, my Canadian doctor has no motive to tell me to take two aspirin and call him in the morning when what I really need is a pacemaker. He isn’t going to be financially rewarded for saving the system thousands of dollars – but your friendly Slicko Healthcare Insurance company sees every dollar not spent on your wellbeing as a more-than-healthy contribution to the company coffers, that magical place from which performance bonuses, seven-figure salaries and multi-million-dollar golden parachute CEO severance packages emanate like so much manna from heaven.

Of course, the most effective scare tactic in the anti-universal healthcare arsenal is the concept of deliberate abuse, the idea that the laziest citizens will clog up the system with bogus claims because “those people” just can’t pass up an opportunity to get somethin’ for nuthin’ – you know, kind of like those able-bodied Welfare Queens who refuse to get jobs so they can lounge around in the lap of luxury that only welfare checks and food stamps can offer.

Are there abuses here in universal healthcare hell? You betcha! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to sit in a crowded doctor’s waiting room, surrounded by people who are there for their fifteenth flu shot in a month just so they can stock up on those free cotton balls they tuck under your band-aid after an injection. And if you need surgery, well, be prepared to stand in line behind hundreds of WQs who are undergoing unnecessary amputations just because they can’t pass up a free operation.

All things being equal – or unequal, as the case may be – as someone who has been blessed with good health for 99.9% of the time I have been paying into the Canadian healthcare system, I have indeed contributed more money than has been expended on my personal care.

By the same token, I have never reaped the benefits of the tax dollars I have contributed to the local fire department, because I’ve never had a house fire. In both cases, my feeling in the same: I may not need the services I am paying for, but I sleep better at night knowing those services are available if and when I do need them. And if my money is spent on putting out a fire in my neighbour’s house, or covers the cost of my neighbour’s child’s kidney transplant, I think I can live with that inequity.

And by the way, if you really believe that buying health insurance from Slicko & Co. is a good investment, just remember that the next time you’re in a local bar and you see that fast-food guzzling hippo snorting coke off a plate of whipped cream-laden Twinkies, a pile o’ Cheez-Whiz, and a dozen Big Macs soaked in Tequila, he’s probably a major shareholder in Slicko, and he’s paying his tab with that big dividend he got thanks to not having wasted money on your six-year-old’s chemotherapy – oh, ahem, sorry about the kid.

It should be noted that FreedomWorks was formerly known as “Citizens for a Sound Economy”. In other words, having now ‘fixed’ the economy, they have moved on to ‘fixing’ the American healthcare system. That kind of success pretty much speaks for itself.

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