Ebert on Health Care and Death Panels

From his blog:

The notion of “universal health care” does not mean “socialized medicine.” It means just what it seems to mean. America is the only developed nation on earth that does not provide it. Why does it inspire such virulent opposition? Who is behind it? It is opposed mostly from the far right, whose enthusiasm seems to be encouraged by financial support from some (not all) insurance companies. Those companies have priced American insurance out of the reach of millions.

One result has been that our national life expectancy ranks 42nd among all developed nations. We spend more on medical care that any other nation, and get less than 41 of them. These figures are pretty clear.

I don’t pretend to know if this information is available to the angry people who have shouted down their representatives at town hall meetings. I think I do know where their anger is fed. The drumbeat of far-right commentators fuels it. Their agenda is not health care, but opposition to the Obama administration. It takes the form of demonizing Obama. It uses the tactic of the Big Lie to defame him him. An example of this is the fiction, “he wants to kill your grandmother.” Another is the outrageous statement that he is a racist who hates white people. A person capable of saying that is clearly unhinged and in the grip of unconditional hatred.

Do you know what the “public option” is? It would be the establishment of a federal fund to provide health insurance for those who cannot afford it. I have the feeling that if Jay Leno went Jaywalking among the protesters at a town hall meeting, even those holding signs opposing the public option, he would find few able to define the term.


  1. I think “Jay Leno jaywalking at a town hall meeting” is just what this debate needs. The liberal media may be able to disseminate the correct information, but it’s just preaching to the choir.

  2. “One result has been that our national life expectancy ranks 42nd among all developed nations. We spend more on medical care that any other nation, and get less than 41 of them. These figures are pretty clear.”

    A perfect example of “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” There are so many confounding factors that using “life expentancy” to measure a health care system’s efficacy is nonsense.

    By reacting to Beck and Palin, Ebert adds to the debate about as much as could be expected and about as much as he desired, I guess.

  3. BJB: Are your expectations of a health system inclusive of preventative medicine or exclusively reactionary?

    If you factor in preventative measures like nutrition, vaccinations and early detection screening, of course your health system is going to have an effect on life expectancy.

    In much of the debate surrounding US Healthcare, I keep hearing the phrase “I pray that I’ll never get sick because I can’t afford it”. If you can’t even afford reactionary measures, how are you even going to CONSIDER preventative?

  4. Amanda,

    Nutrition? I can’t wait until the national health service prescribes food to people. That is the only way to get Americans to eat like the Japanese. Except even then they still wouldn’t, considering the large percentage of noncompliant diabetics.

    I don’t understand what you mean by not being able to afford preventative measures.

  5. Preventative measures such as regular screenings to catch any problems as early as possible so they may be nipped in the bud. I know a man who works for a large American power company who is currently battling with his sugar levels very succesfully because his company pays for a doctor to swing by his office and check up on the staff every 2 weeks or so. Who knows how often he’d see a doctor if not for his company promoting preventative care. If not for them he could very well have hit full blown diabetes by now. Now, that being said, by preventing him from becoming a diabetic they also save themselves a lot of money. Telling him to exercise more often and eat differently costs them nothing (well, aside from the fraction of the doctor’s fee that went towards his time in her office). Otherwise, had he developed diabetes, they’d be paying for many more screenings, testing supplies or possibly even surgeries.

    As for not being able to afford preventative measures, I can’t afford to see my regular doctor at all for the time being. I haven’t been in to see him in about 2 years. Last I saw him I got an all clear but since then something could have gone off that a standard blood test or simple examination might have caught at an earlier and more treatable stage. Hopefully I won’t look back at this post and regret not putting myself into crippling poverty to save my life.

  6. A conservative acquaintance of mine recently became a convert for health care reform…she just took her 6 month old baby in for a general checkup/wellness exam, found nothing wrong with the baby, of course, but the bill was $750 dollars. That’s for a well baby, not a sick baby. Did the baby receive high tech, razor’s edge premium American health care? No. Would this have been free or next to free in any other country on earth? Yes.

  7. Sadly, Patricio, when it comes to healthcare reform, it seems that nearly the only way to have opponents (mainly conservatives, but not exclusively so) “convert” is for them to either (a) get sick themselves, or (b) have a close family member become ill. It seems that for this issue, it has to hit these people right where they live before they will admit there’s anything even slightly amiss. I just don’t understand it. Very, very few of us will live out our lives without some major medical issue coming into play at one point or another, yet those so virulently opposed to restructuring our system act as if only deadbeats are going to reap the benefits of an overhauled system.

  8. I hear ya, JustSayin’.

    You know, it’s no wonder people are putting off having kids. Get a well baby exam, pow, $750. Kid got a cold? $300, and that’s on top of the $12,000/year for family insurance. Kid got peanut allergies? That’ll be $2,000 for tests. Break a bone? Need minor surgery? Better take out a 2nd mortgage.

    My wife and I want to have a kid soon. Too bad all we can think about is if the kid is less than 110% heathy, what will we have to lose in order to take care of it. The house? Our retirement? I don’t know. How such people can defend a system and bring assult rifles to speeches to “make their point” about….nothing, is beyond me.

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