Monday, July 17, 2017

The Death of Empathy

The End of Reason, and Health Insurance

It's always dangerous to think one has an important idea, since we are all so capable of self-delusion.  But I'm going to try to communicate what should be a simple idea, but seems to have so little oxygen in the post-factual era of Trumpland.

Here's the deal: The very idea of insurance has been corrupted.  We have been played so deeply to buy into this American ideal of self-reliance, that we lose sight of caring about those less fortunate, less healthy, less wealthy than we are.  The whole idea of the 'skinny policies' Ted Cruz wants insurance companies to be able to offer, is crazy.  Even the health insurance companies, no angels, agree it's unworkable.

For all its shortcomings, The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) tried to at least define what a real insurance policy is, and tried to get rid of 'junk policies.'  Because of this, right-wingers constantly accuse Obama of lying, for saying "You can keep your doctor."  The implication was simply that "You can keep your doctor, if your health insurance is not a junk policy."  By mandating that all policies have certain minimum standards of coverage, and that all must have insurance, and the rich will help subsidize those that can't afford it,  we have made great strides in lowering the number of uninsured.  But, this is such an evil thing?

So, let me try and finish off my basic point.  We have been fooled into thinking insurance is just healthy people paying too much money for insurance, and those 'other people,' those freeloading sick people, are benefitting from the rest of us.  But insurance is much simpler than that.  We are the sick people, we are the genetically disadvantaged, we are the ones with preexisting conditions. We may be healthy now, but someday we will be those people 'cashing in' on the insurance we paid into earlier when we were healthy.

See? What I've just said is pretty obvious.  So obvious, it shouldn't need to be said.  But, in this 1984 world we've entered, logic is unavailable.

"Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person's frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's position."

It shouldn't be so hard to see, but in a logic-free world, we've been bamboozled into not caring about "another person's frame of reference," and have nothing to hold on to, save our own solipsism. We are pawns in a game of divide and conquer. Please wake up. We need each other. We need to help each other.


Jeff Johnson said...

Good summary. It is true that many people don't understand health insurance. During the debate about Obamacare, one critic of Obamacare commented on Facebook: "I will not pay for anyone's healthcare but my own and my family!" He apparently didn't realize that by having health insurance of any kind, including whatever policy he has, he already is paying for other people's healthcare. That's what health insurance is: people pooling their money to cover those who need it at any given time. Sometimes other people in your pool need some of the money; sometimes you need it.

Jim Hoffman said...

A good restatement of how we *should* be thinking about our insurance -- it's not just "I got mine, to hell with everyone else." By taking part, we ALL GET OURS.

Unknown said...

I've never understood the Republican attitude, frankly. However I work with low income seniors, so I live in the real world.

Tom Rickert said...

I couldn't agree more. And beyond this discussion lies the trend of technology to put increasing numbers of people out of work. An obvious example is the rush toward self-driving vehicles and the underemployment and unemployment this will evidently cause. More people may be unable to afford health insurance without strong government support. So thanks for your comments, Geoff.

Anonymous said...

I was going to get into the weeds with your post, but considering the bigger
picture I don't think it's worth the effort.

The current "debate" about healthcare in the U.S. would be a tragicomic farce if
not for the fact that millions of real peoples' finances, well-being, and even
lives are on the line.

Three dozen industrial nations, including most of our closest allies, are able to
1) provide universal health coverage to all of their citizens
2) obtain better results as measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.
3) spend only one-half to one-third as much of their GNP as the U.S. on healthcare

Dickering over the ACA, the AHCA, or whatever is small ball... the question should
be how can we get on parity with the rest of the civilized world? I don't think
single-payer is a requirement; as I understand it, both Germany and Japan have
excellent healthcare without it. Rather than arguing about systems that are
fundamentally broken, we should be asking how we can adopt a healthcare model
that has already been proven to work by other countries.

Geoff Gould said...

just curious about who I'm talking to here. Dynamic range being what it is, right now, there's a life and death difference between ACA and AHCA. Universal is what I want too, but we live in an country tightly gripped by brainwashing forces.

Bob Mc said...

All this being said, it boils down to a simple choice as a society - Are we going to provide healthcare to those who cannot afford it? Obviously the answer is yes for anyone who cares about others and understands that affordability is a real issue when you are living at or near poverty level. And for those who hesitate and perhaps argue against this for cost reasons, they need to realize that we are all paying for it now, indirectly, whether one likes it or not, through unreimbursed ER visits and health care expenses that drive our premiums through the roof and line the pockets of the for-profit insurance carriers. Someone has to pay, and shared risk/cost is essential. And with the preventative healthcare that insurance can provide, we can seriously reduce the overall costs. As you describe it, Geoff, it's insurance - I would actually be happy not to get my money back but if needed, I want it there - as would all of my fellow humans. In the end, we all win, morally, spiritually, financially.

Geoff Gould said...

well said Bob!