Fear and Health Care

Fear drives us into irrational, even self-destructive actions. It is instinctive that we react to fear without rational thought. If you are out gathering berries, and a Saber-Tooth Cat jumps up and runs at you, you don’t have time to rationally think about the risk, to analyze various ways to respond, etc. All of our ancestors who took that approach stopped contributing to the gene pool because they were eaten.

When something triggers our fear response, we act without thinking. We flee, fight, or freeze. No higher brain function engages for a while. That is why clever manipulators know they can get you to act without thinking if they can engage your fear response.

Even shopping for a couch, the sales person can use fear against you. You like this couch, but you don’t know what other stores might have, so you begin to walk away. The sales person says, “But you need to act today; these sale prices are only good for today.”  If you don’t buy now, you are going to lose ‘your couch.’ That kicks in the fear response.

It turns out that we are more motivated by a fear of loss than by any logical, rational case that might be made.

Fear is a major element in the argument against Medicare for All. “YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE!!!” Fear of loss kicks in and the rational mind is left in the dust. But a rational examination of the facts would realize that with a genuine Medicare for All, there would be no need for private, for-profit health insurance. Yes, you would pay for M4A with taxes, but far less than the current health premiums. Everyone is covered, no one is shackled to an employer so as not to lose health coverage, and no one goes bankrupt from medical bills. The cost of covering everyone in a single-payer system in comparable countries is one-half to one-third of our costs which do not cover everyone. And their outcomes are superior to ours in every metric you care to name, except for the profits of the insurance companies.

What is lost? For-profit health insurance companies lose several trillion dollars of profit, elected officials lose tens of millions of ‘campaign contributions’ from the industry, employers lose a point of leverage to keep their employees from leaving.

When a Saber-Tooth Cat is chasing you, fear might keep you alive. When the issue at hand is whether to keep vastly profitable health insurance companies raking in your money while skimping on your care vs. a system that covers everyone for one-third the cost, fear can stampede you into making a bad decision.

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