Posted on | November 17, 2010 | No Comments
“We Americans have the best health care in the world.” That’s what politicians tell us. And if you are (a) wealthy, (b) well insured, and/or (c) have the right connections, you have probably experienced the truth of that statement. But many of us also know people who do not fall into those categories and who have had great difficulty in getting timely, quality medical care.
And as a result of the ongoing and heated debate about health care reform, we also hear that other countries have health care just as good as ours, provide health insurance to all their citizens—and do so at a significantly lower cost. So what is the truth? Do we Americans really have “the best health care in the world”? And if we truly have the best, why does it need reform?
Alas, when the subject of reform comes up, we usually find ourselves awash in a tsunami of political posturing and caustic catchphrases, such as “government takeover,” “market mayhem,” or “death panels”—all of which are calculated to scare the daylights out of us, so we stop thinking about the underlying issues. But we need to start thinking and start talking. I recognize that for most Americans, finding out “the truth” about current problems or possible fixes is virtually impossible amid all the emotionally charged rhetoric. If you’re in that camp, I would like to reach out and help you…..
We do have many mini-systems of health care and insurance programs in this country, such as private medical systems like the Cleveland or Mayo clinics, or public insurance programs like Medicare or Medicaid. However, there is no national system that binds them together in a working whole. And when you’re scrambling to find health care insurance you can afford—when you or a spouse lose a job, when your company decides it can no longer afford health insurance, when a young adult finishes or drops out of school—you are faced with the reality that there is no national plan as a backup or replacement.
During this past decade at ABC News, I began to realize that it was just as important for me to report and talk about health care problems as about new medical developments. Lack of health insurance can be just as deadly as lack of antibiotics, as it is often the cause of delay in getting good medical care.
I also began to realize that most Americans (myself included) had no idea how costly and complicated our health care had become, and how often politicians used rhetoric that was either deliberately misleading or downright false. So I decided that I had to start talking and writing about health care in the same way I have reported on medical discoveries all these years: with honesty and using terms that people could understand. And, quite frankly, I am also motivated to do this on behalf of my children and grandchildren, because they are going to face disaster if we don’t fix the current problems with American health care. That’s why I have spent increasing amounts of my professional time studying health care in America. And I would like to share with you the most important insights I have gained……
Throughout the book, I will also discuss how some of the ideas in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (usually described by opponents as ObamaCare) might affect our future health care. I will not go into an in-depth analysis of that new legislation, because most of the essential details will certainly change over time. In other words, this book is about essential principles rather than policy details.
My intent is to be as honest as humanly possible about the problems we face with American health care. I have no political axe to grind. I am independent in my political judgments; I vote for the person, not the party. Yes, like any human being, I do have opinions, even biases. But I hope they are informed by facts and figures, not by fables or fiction. You will have to decide for yourself. Now that I am no longer the full-time Medical Editor of ABC News, I can more freely express my opinions on this vital subject.
My goal is to help you understand what I think are some of the most important issues that need to be addressed by any honest proposals to reform our health care. I hope to foster a dialogue that will get all of us—whatever our particular political or social opinions—talking seriously about how we can help to solve the problems we face. So let’s get going.”