The healthcare debate (or clusterf*ck, if we’re going for accuracy) is still raging. We thought it was over, but Scott Brown’s election just reheated this problem like a microwave burrito. It’s even more confusing and contentious than ever. Luckily, UCB Ph.D. student (and Berkeley lecturer) Robin Flagg, MPH, spoke Tuesday night about healthcare, and now we’ve got the 411.

Flagg (who has taught Public Health 150D at Berkeley) described herself as “living healthcare policy.” Indeed, she’s been in the field for decades in various capacities, including field hospitals and health departments. So you know she’s got the cred. Here are some of the things she had to say:

People dislike healthcare reform in part because, for some, “changing it is scarier than leaving it as it is.”

People without insurance can still go to hospitals, and they won’t be turned away if they’re really sick. The rule is that the hospital must stabilize you. However, as she put it, they can stabilize you and then kick you out–they’re under no obligation to treat a long-term patient without insurance.

Besides the rule above, the only people guaranteed treatment or some kind of insurance in our country are prisoners and the elderly.

In 2003, the US had the highest infant mortality rate of developed countries, in spite of our “really advanced” system.

Insurance companies “cherry pick” the healthiest people they can and cover them. They look at family background and reject anyone with a problematic preexisting condition. Nowadays, they’re even looking at genetic tendencies, “Gattaca” style.

Insurance companies charge women almost twice as much as men because they are potential child-bearers, and we all know that having children is so damn expensive.

In conclusion, as Flagg said, “our system’s effed up.”

And whether you’re red, blue or purple (moderate, in this metaphor), that’s a statement we all can get behind.

Image source: tandemracer under Creative Commons

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