12 August 2009

Health Care, misinformation, and Harry Potter

This morning, I updated my Facebook status to this:

Vincent Olivieri heard that if ObamaCare passes, his grandmother will have to play russian roulette as part of her annual checkup.

It didn't take long before there was a flurry of discussion on the recent health care debate. Once the misinformation got rebutted by fact, the debate devolved into absurdity. I'll post the entire dialog here, but I'll take out the identities of the posters:

College friend #1: we're so afraid of death in this country that we can't even think about talking of end-of-life care without getting paranoid! and then noone actually has a clue about what we might want and it causes families lots of extra stress when they don't need it.

Me: Amen!

College friend #2: Hahahaha!!! I heard that they were going to redub the whole health care system "Kevorkianomics"...and that Obama will actually be slated to pull the plug on one-in-four elderly Americans PERSONALLY... Now THAT, my friends, is a President with a bedside manner...

Theatre friend #1: Apparently, they're giving up on the whole "kill granny" line of attack.

The new one is they'll kill your kids. Cause, you know, that one's more plausible...

Me: They say that violence against the homeless is most often a teen beating up an elderly homeless person. Sounds like ObamaCare in action!

College friend #3: It's not paranoia -- it will be reality. Talk to some people from Canada and Germany who are familiar with the health care systems there.

Me: Wow, clearly I'm misinformed. I have friends in Canada and Germany (and France, and England, and South Korea), and none of them have mentioned death panels. In fact, I have one friend who chose to return to South Korea for cancer treatment because it was better for her (both in terms of price and quality) than care in the USA.

If you can point me towards some people who can vouch for the death panels, I'll be happy to check into it.

College friend #3: There don't have to be death panels -- just a refusal to provide certain treatment or surgeries to someone over a certain age.

Theatre friend #2: wow , and this from a president who doesn't even have a birth certificate. Of course he doesn't care about death, he isn't really alive! :)

High School friend: Many people in England still have private health insurance, and I've heard them complain about their national healthcare system, but they've opted not to use it.

When I lived in England, I found the national healthcare system to be wonderful, not very different from the PPO healthcare system I'd experienced until then in the states.

Friend of Sarah: Didn't Obama appoint Kevorkian as the new Health Care Czar? Or was it the cabinet position as head of Health and Human Services?

Theatre friend #3: There are so many good things about universal health care: I lived in Scotland for 2 years and during that time my foot got run over by a car and it was seriously messed up. I tore all the ligaments and ripped the skin. Had to go to the emergency room, get x-rays, stitches, be on crutches for 8 weeks and do physical therapy. It cost me NOTHING. All they asked was that I return the crutches when I was done so that someone else could use them. Again, it cost NOTHING. Had I been stateside, I would have been screwed.
And for the record, I have never heard of anyone over a certain age being turned away for treatment.

Alright, devil's advocate time. Even IF what Allegra is saying is true, that there will be panels that will choose to deny non-cost-effective care to elderly people who are on the government plan, isn't having that plan STILL better than no plan at all?

Those of us with insurance (and I'm one of those lucky people) can keep our non-death panel plans, right? This new plan is for people who don't have insurance, right? So, wouldn't the EVIL DEATH PANEL plan be better than no plan at all?

I think I need to read my way through this plan. I'm still not convinced that it provides for death panels, but honestly, I haven't read it myself. I'm getting my information from Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Specter, etc. Which is a far sight better than getting it from Beck & Limbaugh, but not as good as just reading the damn thing myself....

Have any of you read it?

Extended family:
Just remember you will be old one day. When you are young you get everything. As you get older it is more difficult.....

Long Beach friend: Having just dealt with the medical system while my mother was terminally ill, what we have now isn't so humane, I have to say.

Me: Right, but even if the EVIL DEATH PANEL plan were in existence and it passes, it still wouldn't affect Medicare benefits.

And even if the EVIL DEATH PANEL plan were in existence and it passes, it still wouldn't affect your current health plan unless you wanted it to.

I just read for myself the section of the bill that pertains to Advanced Care Planning. There's nothing in it about killing anyone, old, young, healthy, or sick. Nothing. Everything in there is about setting up opportunities for the elderly to think about and plan for things like living wills, etc. Which everyone should have anyway. I put my living will & DNR documents together when I was 31....

I've just done some quick research, and here are some links.

The link to the Advanced Care Planning section of the bill:

This link (from an admittedly progressive site) debunks five big health care plan myths:

Not trusting their claim of endorsement by AARP, I went here:

And got connected to this debunking page:

...which refutes Allegra's claims.

That article then links to this page:

...which allows you to compare key points of all the major plans. This just obfuscates the situation, since it reminds us that there is no agreed-on plan. There are still a bunch of different plans out there, all vying for support. It's tough to say what will or will not be in the plan, because everyone's still working out the kinks.

Short ending to a long story: Medicare benefits are unaffected, there is no EVIL DEATH PANEL for the elderly, and the claims of denial of non-cost-effective treatment are grossly exaggerated and just BARELY accurate.

Long Beach friend:
So, I've thought a lot about this while taking a bath just now, and it's all clear to me now. Obama is Voldemort. I just knew it. Maybe they'll send an army of dementors and death eaters after the elderly. That sounds efficient. Speaking of which, Vinnie, wanna do Harry Potter in 3D Imax, come on, it will be fun.

Me: Also, Obama and Voldemort are tall and slender.

Long Beach friend: LOL

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