President Obama took his show on the road yesterday to preach the urgency of reforming our health-care system. The reason for this, he explained, is that the current approach is too expensive. Get it? We need government health care to save money.
The Big Lie theory is well-known, having been elaborated in a German book called Mein Kampf written by a house painter who later went into politics. He explained that people force themselves to believe a lie so colossal that no one “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” The idea that a Federal single-payer health regimen mandated for everyone would cost less than we pay now is so stupendously mind-boggling and jaw-dropping startles us out of any rational response.
Rather than debate this absurd proposition let me tell you a story of a real Socialist medical regimen as experienced by this author. In October 1981 I moved to Israel for a few years. I had never been out of the country before, other than my two years living in Montreal between the ages of three and five. My ex-wife was pregnant with our second child and the first order of business was to find a capable obstetrician.
We sat down with friends who explained what was what. It turned out that the government did allow a couple to contract with a private obstetrician, but by so doing they would forfeit the hospital coverage. So you had a choice. If you wanted the personal care of a private doctor who could be called to the hospital to deliver your child, you not only had to pay his fee, you had to pay the hospital out of pocket. If you could afford your own doctor you must be able to afford the hospital.
If on the other hand you wanted to enjoy the benefits of free hospitalization, you had to accept birthing by a midwife. In this case, as well, you were supposed to accept the midwife on duty whenever you happen to arrive at the hospital, a woman who knows neither you nor your case. If a surgery is required, it will be assigned to the doctor on call at the time.
“So you mean everyone goes along with this rigmarole and all children are delivered by strangers?”
Oh, no, our friends laughed. Nobody actually does it this way. All this is only for show. What actually happens is you meet with a private doctor or midwife, then pay them with no record and no receipt. They will meet with you through the pregnancy like a regular private patient, all off the books. Once the contractions come and you need to head to the hospital, you call the doctor at home. He then ambles down to the hospital, pretends to be there by coincidence and personally supervises the delivery. All the hospital staff play along with a wink and a nod. The birth is registered as having been achieved without the assistance of a private doctor, thus allowing the hospitalization to be free of charge.
Who do people use? Who is recommended? The top two men in Jerusalem are Doctor W, a Hungarian Jew and Doctor A, a native Israeli. W is older and more by the book, while the other brings a youthful flair. They each charge a sizable fee. Just don’t be the one to bring up the subject of money, let them broach it in their way. Oh, and right now they are both under indictment for these very infractions.
We chose Doctor W and had a nice session in his inner office. He was asking all the right questions, standard pregnancy issues, then he suddenly pointed to a painting on the wall and put his finger to his lips. The police were bugging his office. He kept on talking while jotting something on a small Post-It note. Without pausing in his conversation he handed me this paper. “Two thousand dollars,” it read.
Well, I’m not proud of it but I allowed myself to be swept along by the tide. I paid up and played the game along with everyone else. It turned out my daughter, Rachel, was more than two weeks overdue and a Caesarean was indicated. Doctor W happened along at just the right moment to perform it capably. That was February 23, 1982, and twenty-seven years later, Rachel is doing fine, living in Toronto with her husband and four children.
Although I am still flabbergasted and speechless by Obama’s contention that services will be provided while money will be saved, my story speaks on my behalf. The last word goes to my friend, Mister Greenblatt of Memphis, who ran into me on a Jerusalem street shortly after my daughter was born. “Oh, you used Doctor W? I heard he only delivers under the table.”