On Wednesday, October 5, 2011 the world learned that the iconic leader of Apple, Steve Jobs died. It was a sad day for the entrepreneurial, and computing world. Jobs was a visionary and a man of great personal drive. His and Apple’s success was predicated on one simple principle, give the consumer what they want, and make it fun. And fun it was/is. Anyone with an Apple device knows how easy and, for the most part, reliable the products are. I personally use an iPhone as part of my everyday life, and cannot imagine NOT being connected without it.
Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in 2003 with the disease, and after eight years of treatment, including a liver transplant in ’09, finally succumbed to his illness. As I watched the out pouring of sentiment, respect and in many cases love for the man that brought the personal computer into everyone’s lives I could not help but think of how different the outcome for his life would have been had he not been Steve Jobs, one of the wealthiest men in America.
I am certain that when he was first told he had cancer he did what anyone of us would do, and seek out the best medical treatment possible. Michael Moore I doubt he went to Cuba for treatment, but rather made use of the greatest medical minds here. He could afford to spend the money needed to save his life, and save his life they did for many years.
He was fortunate. He could afford whatever medical treatment he needed, and could get it in a timely fashion. BUT what if he had been like the rest of us? What if he had been one of the 9.1% of Americans that have been unemployed for six months or longer and had lost their insurance when they lost their jobs? Just because you don’t have insurance doesn’t mean that any illness you have will miraculously disappear until you are covered again. No, instead you are forced into the public healthcare system, and at the mercies of over worked, understaffed public hospitals.
Jobs could afford to have a test and its results back within days, if not hours. But what about the man who has to wait 4-6 months just to get an MRI? What about the woman who has to wait 6 months to have surgery for cervical cancer? What about the heart, liver, lung, knee, or hip patient who needs a transplant or replacement? Being sick and not having private insurance is one of the quickest ways to getting sicker.
We, in America, have a fantastic public hospital system. They have to treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay. But that does not mean that they have to treat everyone in a timely fashion. Yes, if you come into the ER shot or mangled from some car crash you will get immediate care. If you’re having a heart attack or stroke they will treat you as fast and effectively as possible. But come in to the public hospital with a chronic illness or one that is not an immediate threat to life and you will wait, possibly for months to be treated.
Anyone who knows me, or has even a passing acquaintance with this blog knows that I am not a supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111 – 148), or as it is popularly known, Obamacare. While the idea of making sure everyone has access to medical care is noble, the fallacy of the act and the sales job done to pass the act was and is disingenuous. There already existed laws that required hospitals to treat patients with life threatening injuries or illness. Millions of the “uninsured” are young people who are healthy and willing to take the risk of declining health insurance in order to save money. Millions of others are here in the country illegally, and do not pay into the current tax system they way the rest of us do.
The idea that Obamacare will provide some sort of Utopian medical care à la Europe is, to put it bluntly, nuts. Does anyone, anyone with a shred of honesty in their body, really think that the powerful, rich or influential will stand in line with the rest of us and wait for medical care? Does an honest person really believe that the public hospitals will not be flooded with new patients after the full implementation of the act goes into effect?
Anyone who has run a business knows that if you can reduce your operating expenses you become more profitable. Companies are already saying that they are going to drop healthcare for their employees once Obamacare is fully on-line. It makes sense from a business stand point. It is one less cost that a company has to endure. Shift the burden of healthcare to the government, and free up millions, perhaps billions, of dollars for companies and your bottom line increases. And you can’t fault the business owner for thinking this way. After all he/she is in business to make a profit.
I have had over the past two years direct and personal knowledge and experience with dealing with public healthcare and the local public hospital. My illness has become what is considered chronic, and perplexing to the doctors that have been treating me. They can’t provide answers, and simply order more tests. Tests that can take weeks or months to get, and even longer to have the results reviewed and explained.
But back to Steve Jobs. Jobs, and many others like him, ie the rich, powerful, influential will get the medical care that they need when they need it. They will be able to side step the pending rules that are coming towards all of us, and as the old saying goes, “Money talks.” I cannot imagine the President who so often speaks about “fairness” and “spreading the wealth” standing in line if one of his children were to become sick. He would use his position, influence and money to get the treatment his child would need. Any parent would. But how is it fair that those who can afford to pay cash get better treatment than those who cannot? Isn’t fairness what this administration has been all about? Isn’t making everyone equal the agenda they have been pushing for the past two and a half years?
The best way to guarantee people have healthcare is to reform healthcare, but not by ramming reform down the public’s throat. Free up the markets and allow the free market to dictate insurance affordability. The President has continually stated that he is an advocate for a free market economy (see Keith Koffler’s list of Obama quotes on the free market) yet his plan will effectively destroy the free market of healthcare.
My sympathies go out to the Jobs family in their time of loss. And I am thankful that Steve and his family could afford to extend his life for several years giving him a chance to bond with his children and set his affairs in order. His family should be grateful that they were able to afford the medical care he needed when he needed it. If his illness had been diagnosed in someone who was dependent on public healthcare they would not have had the extra time. They would have been a memory long ago.