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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for November, 2008

Is Universal Health Care Necessary?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

It’s likely that some form of government-provided or government-mandated health insurance will be enacted or at least seriously considered by the Obama administration. The major reason for this is the often cited figure of 46 million Americans without health insurance. But what does this number mean? Does our entire health-care system need to be remade in order to protect the uninsured?
Most Americans believe that the uninsured are too poor to purchase insurance and that government programs aren’t available to them. But studies have shown that 25 % of these uninsured are actually eligible for existing public coverage, and another 20% could afford coverage on their own. Using these figures, roughly 25 million people actually need assistance in order to obtain health insurance.
There are other common misperceptions: that the uninsured don’t get health care and when they do, they don’t pay for the care they obtain. A California study demonstrated that among uninsured California residents with household incomes at least twice the poverty level, 50% received medical care during the last year for which they were charged. This study also found that 89% of these people were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their medical care, and only 15 % of them utilized the emergency room rather than a doctor’s office or clinic when they became ill. Another recent study found that uninsured Americans received $86 billion worth of health care in 2008.
Another finding from the California study, revealed that 80 % of the uninsured who obtained medical care and were charged for it, paid for it, and 20% paid in installments. It was estimated that the uninsured would pay $30 billion for their health care costs, 30 % of which would be out of pocket.
So it would seem that the millions of uninsured who are getting and paying for their medical care are not forgoing needed care and are not sticking the public with large ER bills.
Thus, is it necessary to expand government programs, probably with a legal requirement for everyone to carry insurance, when this type of information is examined carefully? If millions of people are able to access and pay for satisfactory health care without insurance is it rational to force them to buy traditional health insurance?
A better plan would be to encourage those who are currently eligible for existing government programs to enroll in them before expanding programs to include people who might not need assistance. Let us hope that those who will be studying ways to cover the care of those who truly need it, will be wise enough to tailor solutions so that limited resources can be applied in the most appropriate fashion.

Misery(or the horror of Stephen King)

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

A literary item.  I’ve been reading American Gothic literature for the past several months.  I wrote one post about the early American Gothic novel, Edgar Huntly a few months ago.  Thereafter, I’ve read novels and short stories by Poe (the master), Hawthorne, Lovecraft, Wharton, Faulkner, Levin and Budnitz.  All of these works are carefully crafted and well written, often with subtleties and nuances. And then came Stephen King.
King uses a hammer, an axe, and a bulldozer to make his points.  His novel, Misery, is so horrific, so filled with epic violence, that it loses its effect ––– it literally numbs the reader.  It is so graphically brutal and savage that it begins to resemble a bad comic book.
King is a highly successful writer.  Misery can be interpreted as a metaphor for the pain and torture of writing, since the protagonist is a writer who must write a novel to save his life, and the reader can critique King’s novel as well as the protagonist’s novel ––– a clever device.
Despite the success of Misery (it made the New York Times best-seller list), I think King’s literary talent based on this novel is inferior to those writers I mentioned earlier.

What do you think?

Personal Note

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Health issues in the family have kept me up to now from posting items for the month of November. So I will inundate this last day in November with several posts, and hope to keep it up for December.

Some Thoughts for November 5

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening  the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

–Abraham Lincoln

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