[Marxism] Healthcare Follies

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Sat Jul 5 20:09:32 MDT 2008

Thanks Michael for tackling such an important topic. I like the  
points you've already made, in particular with regard to HMO  
bureaucracy and paperwork, as well as care denial. Both key points.

I'd like to make a few small points based on my experience within the  
field of health care. I've lived and worked as a massage therapist in  
a variety of settings, both rural and urban, and over the years have  
developed professional relationships with medical doctors,  
chiropractors, orthopedists, physical therapists, osteopaths,  
acupuncturists, etc. I frequently  give and receive referrals to and  
from a wide range of health practitioners.

I've developed a bit of a niche as someone dealing with both chronic  
and acute pain reduction, so I get to see a diverse group of traumas,  
injuries, and structural imbalances.

I've come to the conclusion that private health care distorts the  
quality of care delivered, and can lead to inappropriate treatments  
based more on cost-benefit analysis rather than the health and well- 
being of the patient or client in question. This is due to the  
institutional power structures, which in many cases determine  
treatment protocol, and not to the advantage of the client  
necessarily. We see this time and again in relation to the  
pharmaceutical industry and insurance, as well as, unfortunately, to  
certain surgical procedures.

I've also observed turf wars between different medical professions,  
also to the detriment of the patient. These are of course due to  
capitalist distortions within the industry. Sometimes legislation is  
passed, usually denying access to a certain treatment protocol for  
one group of practitioners to the advantage of a more firmly  
entrenched profession, and usually the cutting-edge science is in  
favor of the insurgent profession. go figure.

US health care is also extremely expensive, favoring technologically  
sophisticated treatments, but ones usually based on some heroic  
intervention. Such is the case with a warrior culture that got it's  
medical advances primarily on the battlefield. Surgery, morphine,  

Fortunately, preventive medicine, which is in the forefront of much  
new science and traditional non-occidental practice, is gaining a  
footing within the industry. Unfortunately, the benefits seem to be  
going mainly to the wealthy. Single-payer could help to revolutionize  
medical care, taking all the current cutting edge practices and  
making them more accessible to the citizenry. The problem is the  
contradiction created by capitalism, which feeds on and magnifies  
people's dis-ease, and a health care system which would prioritize  
keeping people healthy.

Greg McDonald

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