Health care: Policy makers ignore exploitation

By Richard A. Damon, M.D.
The Missoulian, Letters, July 23, 2015

I am convinced the health care system’s systematic exploitation of the middle class, for the benefit of the privileged few in the U.S., has been purposefully overlooked, underestimated and conveniently ignored by congressional policy makers, major health industry players and health care reform analysts.

The regressive policy-making, in my view, is no accident, but primarily based on self-serving political interests that welcome the financial benefits from medical industrial stakeholders, who in turn profit from the status quo. Policy-makers refuse to view health care as an economic good for the entire nation. They promote illusions and outright misconceptions to manipulate public thinking about health care issues.

The premises ignored by those who make the laws are: (1) The burden of paying for health care, a common good, should not fall disproportionately on those who are least able to pay for it, and (2) Americans with lower incomes should not be compelled to pay for health care coverage that is consumed disproportionately by the well-to-do.

Nevertheless, the system we have is designed by and for elite interests, rewarding the providers of insurance, drug makers and essential medical devise purveyors. The eventual day may come where populist policymakers will tell consumer-voters the truth about the extortion-like protection schemes practiced on them by the health care industry complex that guarantees profits off the sick while making consumers choose between paying what the system demands versus putting their family’s health at risk. This truth has been kept from consumers and preserved under the cloak of trickle-down, market-based economics.

Responsible health care reform legislation lies idle (H.R. 676) at the door of congressional action. The improved "Medicare for all" movement might gain political traction if middle-income consumers were enlightened about how much they are paying to support a health care industry essentially unaccountable for its escalating costs.

Dr. Richard A. Damon resides in Bozeman.