Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Kelly Cummings of Fletcher, who is a member of the Vermont Workers Center’s Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign.
You have got to ask yourself, do you want insurance or do you want health care? If you answered health care, well, beware the Fear Monger. According to the dictionary, the term “fear mongering” means the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. This is a tactic that historically has been used again and again. Fear mongering. Insurance companies and their front groups like to serve it up cold for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make no mistake about it … they’re expecting you will swallow it down without question.
By now you might have seen the Vermonters for Health Care Freedom’s ads on television, the Internet or perhaps heard them on the radio. The group’s new ads trying to convince you that keeping the insurance company status quo is the right thing for you to do. Darcie Johnston, who heads up the group, has begun the group’s full onslaught of scare ad tactics. Her ads are loaded with all kinds of scary words and phrases like: “scheme,” “not fair,” “not right,”“state secret,” “they’re hiding something” and “they’re not giving us any reason to trust them.” They also mention that this is going to “cost you 5 billion dollars.” As if this is going to be a new cost to you. What they don’t tell you is Vermont is already spending 5 billion dollars on health care, with a good percentage of it going to health insurance companies and their profits rather than your actual health care. So, no facts … just those scary words, phrases and a magician’s sleight of hand.
Now, I must say in all fairness, because Vermonters for Health Care Freedom will not release the identity of their financial contributors, I do not know if they are a front group for the insurance companies or not. I, nor you, have any way of knowing if they’re being funded by the insurance companies, those “big bucks” brothers or just the average citizen pitching in their five dollars when they can. Ms. Johnston is not saying, but somebody is sure paying for all that airtime. Ultimately we will never know, unless she chooses to reveal it.
When insurance companies and their front groups use scare tactics they like to exploit some of the words we as Vermonters and Americans hold dear. Words like freedom. If you believe what the insurance companies and Vermonters for Health Care Freedom are saying, then you believe they want to give you the freedom to purchase your insurance from a free market-based insurance system so you have free choice and will be a freer Vermonter because of it. You will be so free that you will have the freedom to lose your insurance if you lose your job, to declare bankruptcy and lose your home if you can’t pay your medical bills, to remain in your marriage, even if your spouse beats you, so you and your children don’t lose your spouse’s insurance, to have inadequate health care or none at all … to get sick and die. Well … you get the picture.
Truth is insurance companies could care less about your freedom or your health. They just want your money.
Freedom. It’s worth thinking about it. And it’s time to end this fear thing right here and now. Don’t let the insurance companies and their front groups scare you out of the health care you need and deserve. Don’t let them take the very words we hold dear as a society and twist them into something that means nothing to you and everything to them.
True freedom takes courage. True freedom takes faith. It always has and it always will.
So beware the Fear Monger, everyone. Let’s stay the course and see universal single-payer health care safely to its completion.