‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now.’ The marketisation of compassion and responsibility

My view of blogs is simple, write when you feel you have something to say or when something you read triggers that need.  Here’s the trigger, it was written by Hannah Middlebrook of Tulsa.

After reading this morning’s terrible news, it struck me my friends in the UK need to hear something many Brits may not have considered. If the Manchester Arena bombing had happened in the US, every family with a dead or injured member would begin receiving bills in the coming days. Parents who lost their children would get a detailed and unadorned list of services provided by the medics that tried to save their relations’ lives. And they would be expected to start making payments immediately.

While they mourned heartbreaking losses, American families would be billed for the ambulance rides, morphine, CPR, anaesthesia. They would be expected to pony up for surgeries that were unsuccessful, medication that didn’t work, and the time the anaesthesiologist spent trying to keep their children comfortable during major procedures. They would continue to receive those bills for month upon month after the death of their children.

Many families would set up GoFundMe accounts to pay for the medical expenses of their deceased child. The bills would run in to the hundreds of thousands, so even the best-funded account would only pay a fraction. The parents might have to sell their homes while trying to wrap their minds around the needless loss of their children. Ultimately, many would declare bankruptcy: who has time to pore over bills, fight the constant inaccuracies, totalling hundreds or thousands of dollars, when they’re battling depression and anger?

Think about that. It’s the kind of society you’re really signing up for when you vote for a party that wants to privatise your healthcare. Please don’t make that mistake.

In sum, don’t get yourself hurt, or shot, or damaged in any way in the US.  It could cost you your home.  Or your life.  I asked two of my American friends who worked in the medical world in the US for many years if this was true.  Strong women both, caring, passionate about healing, they always tell me like it is.  

From one, ‘The horror is that ill people have to worry when they need to recover.’  

From the other, more trenchant, ‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now that depending on the insurance the individual is carrying it would not be unheard of for the injured or their families to receive an invoice.

Of course, the lawyers would probably beat the mail to the door of the injured claiming wrongful death and offering to sue whomever for a price or percentage of recovery.  We don’t have the one party payer most of the developed world has and what we do have is the worst of all….greedy insurance companies and incompetent government combined to offer the Affordable Care Act….it is neither affordable nor particularly caring.  If a foreign citizen is injured in the US I’m not sure what the compensation collection would look like, but rest assured that individual would be billed for services rendered…

So, if you have the money, you’re okay.  If not, well, tough, live with it.  Or die with it.  How long will it be before people realise that health care and health inequality is not just a financial issue, it is a social issue, a class issue?

If you think I’m exaggerating, watch this. Worth watching.  All of it.  The speaker, Sir Michael Marmot, is also the author of ‘The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World’.  Here’s just one point, ‘What makes these health inequalities unjust is that evidence from round the world shows we know what to do to make them smaller…’  

His report was presented in 2008 and all that was required was the political will to invoke his recommendations.  We are now in 2017.  Noticed any change?  No, me neither.  

In Scotland, we have Sir Harry Burns who retired as Chief Medical Officer in 2014 to take up the appointment of Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University.    During his tenure as Chief Medical Officer he also stressed the connections between dire social conditions and ill health.   

Caring people both.  Bright people both.  Passionate about health inequality both. 

They, along with countless other health professionals, have been pushing for social change in healthcare for years, if not decades.  

So why hasn’t anything been done?  It’s the marketisation of social responsibility, that’s why. 

Privatise the NHS.  Put people’s healthcare in the hands of organisations whose priority is profit for their shareholders.  Why not?  Give tax breaks to private schools whose parents can afford the substantial fees involved.  Why not?  Hang on a minute…  Ignore tenants’ concerns regarding their housing and safety?  Why not?  (Just don’t mention the arrogance of Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Grenfell Tower fire).  Allow tax avoidance to continue to cost the UK and many other countries, billions.  Why not?  Oh, yes, that’s still being done.  Bail out the banks despite it being their greed and lack of responsibility that got us into the current financial mess – and don’t make them pay in any way.  Oh, yes, we’ve done that… Privatise rail.  Oh, yes, we’ve done that too…  Working out well isn’t it?   (You do know that I’m being ironic don’t you?)

In the UK there is political chaos.  In the US there is, well, there’s Trump.  Is the fact that none of the changes necessary to create a healthy and responsible society have taken place linked to this current and past political reality?  I think we should be told… (Btw, I’m still being ironic.)  

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

4 thoughts on “‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now.’ The marketisation of compassion and responsibility

  • 20th June 2017 at 3:34 am

    My comments do not reflect the scholar I really am! However the fact remains adequate healthcare is a basic human right, not a luxury!

  • 20th June 2017 at 8:02 am

    As always, sweet lady, you nailed it.

  • 20th June 2017 at 2:16 pm

    It’s a terrible reflection on the world in which we live today that lack of or insufficient money can seriously injure one’s health, perhaps even endanger survival. Sadly we have become used to hearing about it in the ‘developing world’ but the ‘marketisation of compassion and responsibility’ epidemic is now worldwide. It takes all forms, some more obvious than others, and it is often insidious.

  • 20th June 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Perfectly put, Polly. Started two or three decades ago and has continued since. It’s about time it was stopped.


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