Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why "Universal" Healthcare won't work

I had checked the mail today, not looking for anything specific, just looking at what came in. As usual, it was the bills, adverts and flyers and a catalog for a particular vendor I frequent. But I noticed there was a piece of pink paper, from the USPS, saying that there was a letter, a package or something at the local post office that had postage due. Well, I had to take the youngest kitty, Shammy into Phoenix to drop her off to be spayed. I also had to run some errands and figured I would take the USPS notice and drop by the post office while I was out.

It took me just under an hour to drive 46 miles, round trip, to the vet, through downtown Phoenix on the 405 ( my name for the I-10/202/101 highway system here, it's very reminiscent of LA's 405 anymore). I got back to the house, checked my email and computer, I have been working on solving a problem with a new processor, anyway, picked up the paper and headed out once again 2 miles to the local post office.

I got there and as usual, it was packed with people doing the same thing as me, picking up, dropping off, etc. I walked in and there was a line almost out the door with only 1 employee working behind the desk. There are 6 stations to serve people there. So, I took up my space in line and listened to people complaining about how only 1 person was serving anyone. A little while later, employee #2 came out and opened up a 2nd window and I figured that maybe the line would move a little faster. They have a business window too, but that was closed, even though I noticed obvious patrons who were there for business reasons. I just watched all the activity (or lack thereof, at this point I now there 15 minutes) and listened to more complaining from patrons. I saw at different times, 3 different employees walk out doing different things, and yet, not one of them went to help out or open another window. So, I wasn't annoyed or anything, I expect long waits at the post office. After a half an hour at this point, I notice employees #6 and 7, different people yet, wearing USPS shirts, walk out and do various things.

At this point, I have been there for almost 45 minutes, yet another employee walks out and opens window #3. Now, at present count, there have been 7 people who work there make themselves visible. #8 came out of nowhere and opened window #3 so the line is starting to move a bit faster. At this point, I have been there 55 minutes.

I finally got my turn and walked up to the counter and handed over the paper and the employee looked at it and asked, "did you get this yesterday?". I said, "no, it was in the mail today" as I had gotten the mail and brought it in. I didn't notice at the time, but he correctly pointed out that it had yesterday's date on it. So, he went into the back and came out with a letter, addressed to my mom, and said, "30 cents, please."

30 cents. I now have been there at the post office for an hour and it was over 30 cents for a letter from a clinic for my mom. All that time, I have been wondering what it possibly could be.

Now, you have to figure, the USPS is government run, although I guess you can call it a franchise of the US government. It is under the executive branch but overseen by the US government and is under protection of the US federal government. And then you factor in the fact, that with all the independent mail or freight shippers out there, it is still by far the only real mail service in the US. So, people are somewhat forced to mail letters through the USPS. There has been a debate over the years about the mail monopoly of the USPS. Wikipedia has a fascinating read on the USPS. US Postal Service.

You are probably asking yourself, "what does this have to do with Healthcare?". Well, think about it. You have a government run or sanctioned entity handling our mail. You have employees that are part of a union, yes, the postal union, serving you. They follow the labor rules set down by the postal union and are followed. With the fact that USPS is still the biggest carrier of the mail, you have really no other choice to mail letters, bills, advertisements and other such things except through the mail. Given the bureaucracy of the US government and it by far a bureaucracy of enormous size, you are at their mercy. I had to stand in line for something as insignificant as a .30 cent postage due letter.

Ask yourself this. Why do people in other countries come to the US for Healthcare? Many would say, "well, they can afford to". That's not the question though. Why do they choose to spend their money here, for healthcare instead of going through their own nationalized system? Could it possibly be that our system provides a wider range of care with many more specialists that are educated in areas of medicine that many in Socialised countries are not?

What you have to understand is, People are not alike. You can't say that one diagnosis fits all. People are not like cars that can be put on a computer and have codes come up that tell the technician what is wrong. If you combine the inefficiency of the Federal Government with the "one diagnosis fits all" you are going to have problems. Imagine walking into your local government run healthcare facility for something as simple as a flu shot. Chances are, like the USPS and DMV, you will have to wait in line, then fill out all kinds of forms, Get asked all kinds of questions and then sit and wait as there will be Government employees, who by law, have to take a break, etc. All you have to do is substitute USPS with USHS and you can get an idea of what people will be dealing with under Government Healthcare.

I was talking to my mom about Socialised healthcare. She mentioned that my uncle Bill, who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, needed to see a cardiologist. Well, she said that he has an appointment, in 5 months! 5 months to see a Cardiologist!??? Another story out of England I read a couple of weeks ago and wished I had saved, was one of an auto mechanic who had some problem regarding a broken arm. Seems, that he needed to see a specialist to attend to his arm for whatever reason and the story was about the fact that now, as a result of the wait, he will probably have to have the arm amputated. And to add insult to injury, he had to make an appointment that will take another 3 months unless it's life threatening. Then and only then will they see him and to amputate his arm. He said, if he could afford to fly to the US, he was sure that he could have gotten the arm fixed and not have to have it amputated. But since he didn't have the money, he was at the mercy of the NHS in Britain.

So anytime you think that maybe "Universal" healthcare might be a good idea, notice the lines at the post office, notice the lines at the DMV and other Government run services and think about it. What savings you might think you gain in money, you will probably end up spending in Time, frustration and even perhaps, your life.

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