Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An interlude: Hysteria, hype, and health care

::pant, pant, pant::

Wow, what a ride. I was asked to be a peer reviewer on Ravelry to help moderate a thread about the current public health care issue in the U.S. Yeah, it got a little hot. But there was a lot of good information that I gleaned from it.

About 80% of the posts fell into these categories:
  • U.S. citizens with heartbreaking stories about life without health insurance: people who had insurance but lost their jobs, and when they got a new job with new insurance, were told that their issues that were covered by their previous insurance were now "pre-existing conditions" and would not be covered; adopted children who had been exposed to HIV prior to birth who were refused coverage because their HIV was a "pre-existing condition"; people working long hours at jobs that don't supply health insurance -- nor time off for sick leave -- who had to put off going to the doctor until it became absolutely necessary; people who became disabled and could not work, and so lost their employer-provided insurance; people going back to school to better their lives who, consequently, lost their employer provided insurance; people forced to choose between racking up debt and risking bankruptcy to get a life-threatening condition treated, or going without treatment and risking death. The stories went on and on and on. I had one in there, too. Yeah, I had the joy of living without health insurance for a while.
  • Citizens of the UK, Canada, Netherlands, and other nations with national health coverage who said that while there are always problems, for the most part they were glad they had a national health plan, enjoyed low-cost or sometimes no-cost medical care, and in some nations even had home visits from a health nurse for weeks after the birth of a baby. Many of them shuddered at the thought of having to get medical care in the U.S., or had lived in the U.S. and far preferred the system they were under in Europe or the U.K. Many were also appalled at the way their national health care has been misrepresented in the U.S. media.
Another 10% or so came from U.S. citizens who either
  • crabbed about having to support all those "lazy people who don't work" and who "abuse the system" and therefore aren't worthy in their eyes of health care, or
  • reiterated emails they'd received that listed all the evils of H.R. 3200, the current health plan under consideration in Congress.
And another 10% or so was other stuff: off-topic stuff, rants, and alas, some personal attacks that had to be deleted.


I know there's a lot -- a LOT -- of stuff flying around the internet about H.R. 3200. I know there are floods of emails full of all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things that will happen if it passes. I also discovered that most of the claims in these emails are terribly misleading or entirely untrue. Now, I could direct you to and their article titled Twenty-six Lies about H.R. 3200. But even though FactCheck is a non-partisan site and well-researched, I'd still be saying, "Don't believe that email/blog/web article. Believe this web article!"

And that wouldn't help the debate at all, would it?

So instead I'm going to refer everyone to (gasp!) the actual bill itself. Because you know what? Just like all those people out there who rant about Darwin who have never actually read Darwin, there are a lot of people ranting about the bill who have never read the bill. Sadly, some of them seem to be our own representatives who are voting on the bill. Maybe they should be forced to sit down and take a test on it. No Senator Left Behind, anyone?

The bill is huge. It's about 1000 pages. You're not going to be able to sit down and read this like a novel from start to finish. What you can do, though, is look up the passages in the bill that the propaganda emails refer to. Read the actual passages. See what they really say. See if they even exist. (Hint: Death panels? Not in there. Mandatory enrollment in five years? Not in there, either. Health care rationing? Nope, not there. Feds going to dip directly into your bank account to fund this? Government will pay ACORN to sign people up? Employers forced to sign employees up for the public option? Nope, nope, and nope.)

You can download H.R. 3200 as a PDF.

Or you can read the text of H.R. 3200 on

End the hysteria. Go to the source. Get the facts. Then, U.S. readers, write to your representatives and tell them what you want.


Caffeine Girl said...


Iron Needles said...

Exactly where I am today.

I understand people react out of a fear of the unknown and of changing the familiar.

But the current situation is very precarious for everyone. Insurance coverage is very tenuous, and can be disrupted for a variety of reasons beyond our control.

Solutions are out there. Intelligent informed debate without fear is the only way to arrive at them.

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