Saturday, July 28, 2007


I saw Sicko a couple weeks ago, and while it did not contain any new information for me, it was still disturbing. There were things I felt could have been more fully explained--for example, I had some very long conversations with my host when I was in France about their healthcare system. She always complained about the high cost of their healthcare, via taxes, and how upset she was about the high level of fraud among illegal immigrants, the lack of security for their access cards, and how they were paying such high taxes to other people's advantage. Moore's film makes it look like the French healthcare system is all peaches and cream.

But, that's to be expected. And I'm okay with that, to some extent. When making a point, especially in a feature-length movie, sometimes we don't have time to comb through all the ins and outs of a system. I think a better stance would be to think of it as like a marriage. Each system has its problems. So, let's say these problems are a human being's "foibles". My husband's foibles, which I find irritating but can live with, are not the same foibles that my friends could live with. In fact, I'm sure some people wonder how I can stand to live with him at all! But, that's what marriage is about--finding the person who has the foibles that you are willing to deal with. Because, we've all got them, those foibles. Except for me. I'm perfect.

Seriously though, the hard part for our country over the next few years is going to be negotiating a healthcare system whose primary foibles we are willing to live with. And there will be foibles--a lot of them.

Anyway, while I was at work and had a slow moment, I was trying to catch up with my New Yorker reading and read Atul Gawande's take on the movie. In the penultimate paragraph, he brought up some points about government involvement and things like birth control, etc. This got me thinking...

I'm definitely a social liberal--I'm all for government programs that help people. AND, more importantly, I'm willing to pay more taxes for them. But, I don't trust our current government, specifically, the judicial branch in the form of our Supreme Court. If we give the government more control over our healthcare system, what's to stop them from limiting abortions, birth control, morning after pills, etc.? We're already seeing this with pharmacists and some doctors. We're seeing the attempts to overthrow Roe v. Wade. Or the recent partial-birth abortion ban that is really only used in this day and age if the pregnancy will eventually put the mother's life in peril. That ban says the procedure can only be done if the mother is in immediate danger. Aside from issues of body ownership and if a fetus has more rights than the vessel/mother, this has, for me, major implications for a universal healthcare system over which this particular court would have some semblance of control.

The big problem I have is that I do want more government involvement with healthcare, but only of a certain type. A type which I'm not sure our government can really fulfill, especially with many citizens' inability to separate their moral beliefs from the rights and choices that everyone should be able to have under the tenets of our government.

I don't expect a perfect solution, but I certainly do not want one which is yet another platform for religious conservatives, or anyone for that matter, to restrict our choices in healthcare. Can this be done?


Rebecca said...

It always seems to be a case of having our cake and eating it too, eh? In this regard, we SHOULD be able to have that.

Here's the best solution I've seen so far--not perfect, but it is a start. whatissinglepayer.php

Rebecca said...

Oops. Here is the right link:

Kate said...

A big moment for me was the "Oh, yeah, my insurance company told me which hospital I had to use for my surgery. A few days before the surgery." And I didn't think twice about it. Complacency, you know.