When I was teaching college in Pennsylvania, I had a colleague whose car sported a telling bumper sticker: “Our national health care plan: Don’t get sick.” As true as that is, I think America’s real health care plan can be summed up by a corporate motto of my own coining: You can make a lot of money off sick people.

This came to mind today as my wife returned from a routine medical appointment. She overheard a lady complaining to a clerk that she didn’t understand her health insurance and why her latest procedure hadn’t been covered. Meanwhile, my wife noticed a sign about Medicare at the office, something about a new requirement that medical professionals were apologizing for in advance. And so it goes in the land of the free …

If you’re an American and 100% pleased with your medical care, you are a rare bird indeed. It’s an incredibly complex “system” with its own logic driven by the need to make money, whether off drugs or surgical procedures or whatever. I’ve talked to doctors and they tell me they’re typically allotted fifteen minutes per patient. They have to see a certain number of patients per hour, creating billable actions in the computer tablets they increasingly carry around with them, to fulfill quotas and to stay in business.

A heart specialist I was seeing, a truly sympathetic and knowledgable doctor, got fed up with all the emphasis on billing and money and took another position at a different hospital where he could do more research. At his practice, I noted new computer monitors in the examination rooms featuring videos that advertised drugs to lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and the like, along with pamphlets featuring shiny happy people taking various drugs related to heart and blood care. Honestly, I felt good for my doctor that he was going to a better job for him even as I felt bad for all his patients, myself included.

A big reason I supported Bernie Sanders was his seemingly empathetic and principled call for affordable health care for all, some kind of national plan that would deemphasize the profit motive, ending the tragic reality that some Americans have to choose between their own health and bankruptcy. Naturally, the Democratic Party, in league with big Pharma, health insurers (they should be called health deniers for their business model that seeks to deny claims whenever possible), and other corporate forces, threw their considerable financial support behind corporate tools like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Biden promised a public option. I guess he forgot about it.

Speaking of Biden, he of course promised a public (government) option on the campaign trail, only to renege on that promise once he became president. Biden, a tired corporate hack, will never go to bat for affordable health care, which is no endorsement of his Republican opponents. Their “plan” consists of encouraging bake sales and go-fund-me appeals along with vague hints of Scrooge-like notions: If you can’t afford your health care, you had best die to decrease the surplus population.

Are there no prisons, no workhouses?

The health of our society, in a sense, is the aggregate of the health of 333 million of us. Americans are increasingly sick, obese, depressed, tense, even suicidal. And it seems the first question some “providers” ask here is: How can I make money off this?

P.S. I kid you not. I just got an email from Amazon saying that “Your new pharmacy is here.” I feel happier and healthier already!

BC guest Commentator WJ Astore is the

Creator of Bracing Views. Contributor to

TomDispatch, Truthout, HNN, Alternet,

Huffington Post, Antiwar, and other sites.

Retired AF lieutenant colonel and

professor of history. Senior fellow,

Eisenhower Media Network.

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