Monday, November 22, 2010


As a writer, I often draw inspiration from my readers. And I have many wonderful readers, whose presence and comments I appreciate. You really do make my day.

This is a case in I am drawing some inspiration from my dear bloggy friend, Joanne. And thank you, Joanne.

I'm referring to a comment from "Reasons" in relation to my post, "Hard Times Come Again No More". (If you're not reading Joanne at Reasons to be Cheerful, 1, 2, 3, you should be; she is one very gutsy lady, and writes very well, too!)

Her point, in my relation to my last post, was that things in Britain are a lot better than in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. And she is absolutely correct! Things are better in Britain. In lots of places they may not be. But in Britain they are. In Canada, too. And the United States. Still, there are lots of individuals, in Britain, Canada, and the US, for whom life is really terrible.

But there was one particular bit that made me stop and think. In reference to Britain's system of benefits (the "social safety net," if you will), she notes it is "under threat now due to abuse."

That word "abuse" always causes me to pause and wonder. Abuse of whom, by whom, to what end?

There has long been a myth, in the United States, and I think elsewhere, that people abuse the health care system. Yet good research studies by doctors themselves show this is rarely the case. I know that a lot more people end up in hospital Emergency Departments, often because their family doctors tell them to go there, particularly in evenings and on weekends. And often people end up in Emergency Departments because they do not have a family doctor, since many doctors have so many patients they will not take any more. (Why take on more patients than one can care for adequately?) The research is corroborated by the stories of "front-line" hospital personal with whom I serve on health care ethics committees.The matter is further confounded by a lack of specialists in the medical system (at least in Canada, and, I suspect, in Britain), when compared to the needs of patients.

So, when I hear of "the system being abused," I wonder what is really happening, and whether this is more perception than fact. I don't know, but I wonder.

I think the larger threats to the health care system in Britain (and in Canada, as well as the United States) have come from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are wars being fought for dubious reasons, with very mixed consequences.

I've always believed that, for any government, the first concerns need to be the health and education of its people. (When I say "health," I include effective access to good food and clean water.)

The problem is that wars are expensive. And the money to fight them has to come from somewhere. So, why not take money away from health and education to fight the war? And if that is being done, does that constitute "abuse" of people by their government?

And while I agree that "it was much worse then than it is now," are we seeing a significant reversing of the trend? How far might that go?

These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night, thinking. 

What's a Bear to do?


Lori said...

I went over right away to Joanne's place and was very blessed to read her words. You are right, she write well and seems pretty gutsy. Thank you for pointing me in her direction.

I too, lie awake at night thinking of these kinds of things and when I find myself caught up in them and confused as to what the answers are, I pray. So for me I have found prayer to be the answer. Maybe it's therepudic to just lay it all down or letting it go for the time being?

Happy Monday to you Rob-Bear...hope this week is a good one for you. XX

The Blog Fodder said...

You called it. It just grates on me when I hear the "abused" line referring top some welfare mom or similar.
The system is abused by people in power positions skimming billions off the top but somehow, especially in USA that seems to be OK. Go figure. Steal $500 billion and you are a hero. $500 and you are causing the system to go broke. Insert unprintable obscenity here.

Rosaria Williams said...

Lots to think about. We are in war and it will be a while before we get out. Hopefully, we can begin to be more rational about how a government should conduct itself.

Diana said...

Well Bear I'm so sorry that these things keep you up at night. Getting a good nights sleep can be rough enough without troubles floating around in our brains!
On the contrary I feel as though I am being abused by the health care systems. While I receive excellent care, unfortunately it is care that really hurts my family financially.
Even with insurance. My family has had several surgeries and other major medical issues over the past three years that quite frankly, the worry from it may possibly kill me.
My last post explains a bit more on this. There are sooo many times that I won't go to the doctor or buy my medications because it comes down to that or buying food to feed my family. Something definitely needs to be done but I don't have the answers. So I just try to stay happy and healthy so that I can enjoy what little time I may have left on this earth! Love Di ♥

potsoc said...

The system is abused a lot less than is said and by a very small percentage of users.
The worst abuse I witnessed while sitting (and presiding) on a hospital board came from the doctors themselves. It was a rural hospital and patients had to travel several kilometers to go to an appointment.
Some doctors took to having their social welfare patients transported to their appointments by ambulance believing it cost nothing since welfare was paying. Turns out the hospital was billed for those transports. When we confronted the doctors with the bills they gasped. The practice stopped and within a year we shaved off 100 000$ from our expenses.
The patients found friends and relatives to drive them to their appointment, even the volunteer bureau pitched in. Nobody was left without care...but the board, at first, had to hold firm.

Rob-bear said...

® Lori: Glad you dropped in on Joanne.
Lying down and letting things go is a good thing. Praying about them is even better.
My week is off to a good start, Lori; I hope yours is, too.

® BF: "The system is abused by people in power positions." That is true more often than I would care to think.

® lakeviewer: Given the American two-party system, and the lust for political power, I'm not sure there will be much of a change for a long time.
But I hope I'm wrong.

® Diana: I am so sad about the situation you describe: food or medications.
That is why Canadian people demanded a better health care system, and got the kind of coverage we have today. It isn't perfect, but it works for most of the people most of the time.
I know that President Obama tried to get a more universal plan, but the legislators (because they're heavily funded by health care businesses) wouldn't have it.
My sympathies to you and all Americans.

Angela said...

In Germany, our health care system is surely not perfect and needs some change, but on the whole almost everybody is ensured and gets all the treatment we need. With the population growing older and older and new hips and diabetes treatment and dementia all needs taken more care of, the companies mourn and ask for more money. But still, on the whole, we are content and only wonder why such a system is obviously NOT wanted in the US. I think Obama was right in trying, but some influential people called that "socialistic" - how crazy!!

Unknown said...

In my humble opinion, there are more physicians abusing the health care system in America than there are individuals; filing for more services than they actually gave their patients. And from what I've read, it's difficult to find these so called doctors.

Gutsy Living said...

There are people of all types: abusers of the system, non-abusers, etc.
As far as Angela from Germany, I wish we could have the same system in the U.S. Perhaps American doctors and insurance companies are too GREEDY. They want millions of dollars in their pockets. Could that be the problem, vs. doctors in Europe?

Rob-bear said...

® angela: That's pretty much the same as in Canada.

® Gaston Studio: I'm not surprised, Jane. But that is sad.

® GutsyWriter: To be straightforward, Sonia, I think you're absolutely right. That's why I feel so sorry for Americans. Especially poor Americans.

Amanda Summer said...

so perceptive, bear

indeed -- you make a good point suggesting that the government stands accused of abuse of its people by engaging in warfare vs. the highest priority, which as you aptly said is providing for their health and education.

as always, thank you for this thought-provoking post. also loved reading all the intelligent comments, in particular, geli's and sonia's ---

Sniffles and Smiles said...

A very thoughtful post, dear Bear! Full of profound insight! I'm glad you share your deep thoughts with us!! It is a privilege to read your posts! Just wanted to say "hello!" and to let you know that you've been in my thoughts! Hugs, Janine

Rob-bear said...

® potsoc: Sorry I missed you earlier. Thank you for sharing an important story.

® Angela: Thank you for providing your European perspective.
Sadly, I fear many Americans do not understand the difference between co-operation and socialism; they mistake the two as being the same.

Rob-bear said...

® Amanda and S&S (Janine): Thank you both for your kind thoughts.

I've always believed it is important to have public discussion of key social policies and activities, especially away from the glare of television lights.