Blind, philistine pig ignorance is rampant among Americans on health care subjects, the product of a generation which (thanks to government's refusing to help) has had to make do when it comes to personal health.
Now that we seem to have the political will to change, ignorance is threatening to undo it all.
Take the subject of vaccines.
A vaccine is generally a weakened form of an actual disease. By its nature it carries risks, but these are offset by benefits. If we know that 1 child in 1,000 will die from a disease, but 1 in 1 million may be harmed by the vaccine, it's pretty obvious what you should do, right?
But Deirdre Imus (who is it that puts microphones in front of these ignoramuses?) says no. Vaccines are all a plot. They're trying to kill us. Just say no.
This kind of idiocy kills people. It kills little kids. We have a rising epidemic in measles, mumps and rubella (german measles) because stupid parents are listening to a-holes like Imus and refusing to immunize their kids. There's a whole industry devoted to this kind of ignorant resistance.
Even after it has been shown that the originator of this pile of shit, Andrew Wakefield (a gastroenterologist, not an immunologist, not an expert on infectious diseases of any kind), made up the only "scientific" study showing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, using kids hand-picked by lawyers looking to score on the backs of worried parents, it goes on.
There is an entire industry dedicated to resisting vaccines and letting innocents die. We saw it in the controversy over Gardasil, which must be taken between the time a woman starts menstruating and before she starts having sexual intercourse. In other words, adolescence, preferably early adolescence, which most parents still define as childhood. Parents must consent, and many don't. As a result this form of cancer will kill thousands of women across the country 20, 30 or 40 years from now.
But the nonsense over vaccines is nothing like the nonsense over electronic medical records (EMRs).
Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are great. They can be delivered, almost instantly, at the point of care, so your new doctor knows what your old doctor did. They can track you as you age to alert people to incipient conditions while they are still preventable. They can include your entire genetic code, again so we can prevent death before it starts.You can download, add real-time data to them, and gain total control over your own health.
There is a problem with EMRs. Under the American system health insurance is governed by underwriting standards. Insurers are allowed to pick-and-choose among risks. If you come into a program with any existing condition, that condition can be excluded from coverage, just as auto insurers discriminate against drivers with bad (or the risk of bad) driving records.
Underwriting creates an incentive for both insurers and employers to get your health records and use them against you. So there is a real link between EMRs and the need for universal health coverage, under which that discrimination goes away. With universal coverage the incentive to look at your records disappears. The only incentives then are illegal discrimination, which we can and do legislate against. Or blackmail of some kind, which again we have laws against.
So it is no surprise that those who want to keep Americans paying 50% more than other countries for less health care than they get, who like the idea that our poorer citizens live 10, 15 or more years less than our wealthy, who think it's cool that Americans subsidize most of the world's medical research, want to fight EMRs. Some, like Betsy McCaughey, are actually quite open about it:
The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry.
I can respect that. Feudalism may not be popular, but if it's honestly advocated I can have an honest disagreement on it.
Unfortunately most opponents are not nearly so honest. Most lie and just say they want "privacy" or "choice." It's feudalism masquerading as principle. As I said, strip away the incentives for people prying, leave us with illegal discrimination we can sue or jail people for, and the "privacy" case against EMRs falls of its own weight.
Want to test the theory? Ask those making any argument against EMRs how they feel about universal health care, which promises to both reduce costs and increase lifespans by making sure kids get their shots, young people get check-ups, and the rest of us aren't discriminated against.
Go ahead. Ask 'em.