How Accurate is History?

Have you ever wondered how much we learned about our history was modified to suit the narrative of those in power both when it is happening and afterwards? This has bothered me more recently when there have been attempts to remove statues of important figures involved in the founding of North America. Does destroying them or putting them in storage erase them from history? How about their contribution to making North America what it is now? Even when what was acceptable behavior then may not be acceptable now? 

Revisionist history can tell a story that is either incomplete, partly true, or in extreme cases, outright lies. In all of these cases, while it may support some current causes, is it serving our best interest in the long term? We can’t change what actually happened, but we can change how we accept what happened.

For a period of time when I was in Washington, D.C., I participated in lobbying for Association Health Plans that would allow the small companies that were members of associations to enjoy the same protection from health insurance state mandates that large companies have. Large companies were immune from the state mandates, by federal law at that time. Associated with this effort were hearings on this topic that were held by the committee in Congress charged with studying this proposed bill and determining if this issue should be put on the congressional agenda for a vote. That is the way the process works. These hearings were reported on by the media.

At that time the Clinton administration was pushing universal healthcare, so they were against any association health plan bill. The reason for their objection was that somewhere around 50% of the employees in the USA work for small businesses and the passage of this bill would largely eliminate the problem they were trying to solve.

The media were strongly in support of the Clinton plan as well. The insurance lobby was also against this bill since most small businesses were forced to stop offering health insurance as a benefit because of the cost, or to leave their employees to seek individual coverage. The premiums for individual coverage were a lot higher than they would be if the association health plan passed and the benefits paid would be the same, yielding more profits for the insurance companies.

Public sentiment would also factor into what happened from there on with this issue. Factoring this all into the matter, what was reported on TV was only testimony and/or data that would not support this bill. What was not reported was the benefits where specifically around 50% of working Americans would enjoy if it passed. I attended the hearings and heard both sides presented but only one side was reported. The media only televised testimony that did not favor passage.

In the end, this bill never made it to the House floor for a vote, leaving many Americans without health insurance or much poorer because of the high premiums they were forced to pay.  

Why did something like this never even get to a vote?  Let me count the ways! The administration in power wanted to champion universal healthcare to solve the growing problem of the uninsured, but there weren’t enough uninsured to make a strong case. So, defeating this bill would greatly increase the number of uninsured, creating the problem that they would then position themselves solve. They also had to get enough of the voting public on their side to be credible so their coconspirator, the mainstream press, needed to control the narrative being communicated to the public. The insurance lobby also had a lot to gain since they could charge much higher premiums to small business employees and increase their profits if the bill failed. The pharmaceutical and healthcare lobby also had a lot to gain as they could and did jack up the cost of premiums. I will bet that you never heard this side of this story because that part of history was modified by those who had the most to gain. The bill never got out of committee to a vote on the House floor because the powerful sponsors and cosponsors needed to accomplish this were not going to sponsor this bill because they had been influenced by the wealthy insurance and healthcare lobby to be against it.

What most people believe is that there was a rapidly growing number of poor people that were not insured and were not able to get needed healthcare services. It was true that there was a rapidly growing number of uninsured, but they were not necessarily poor people. They also could get healthcare by paying out of pocket for the service or going to the emergency room. Many of these people were not poor but those who had previously been insured by their small business employer before the healthcare reform and state mandates drove the cost of healthcare insurance up to the point it was no longer affordable. The government had created the problem that put them in the position of being the only solution and growing their span of control.

What was the incentive for pushing for universal healthcare in the first place?  If the government could control and manage healthcare, they would gain control over that segment of the economy.

In 2021, 18.8% of the GDP was spent on healthcare, amounting to a whopping $4.3 trillion, or $12,914.00 per person. In 1960, it was only 5% of the GDP. By 1990 it had more than doubled to 12.1% of GDP. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993 it was even more, and the administration saw an opportunity to take control of that part of the economy. Part of the plan was to change hospitalization insurance to be all inclusive and call it healthcare insurance. They would mandate this extended coverage and not give the public a choice between having insurance that just covered major expenses only or the broader coverage that would cover everything.

The insurance commissions of each state that control what coverage should be included in their jurisdictions jumped on the bandwagon and enacted mandates to define what had to be included in their states. Within a short period of time 25 states all had different state mandates greatly complicating writing policies in multiple states. The federal government stepped in to write legislation that exempted large companies from the state mandates, leaving small companies that were members of associations with no options but to go to individual coverage that would comply with the state mandates. The premiums for this coverage were doubling every year. I remember paying $25,000 a year per employee in the 1990s for health insurance forcing me to drop health insurance as a benefit and leave my employees to fend for themselves for coverage. Health insurance had become my biggest expense and I had to drop it as a benefit for my employees or go out of business. Several of my employees opted to go without coverage because they could not afford the premiums. They were not poor people as the media was depicting. The result was that millions of middle-class people became uninsured, creating a healthcare crisis that persists to this day. This whole mess was created by the same government that positioned itself as the solution. 

There are many stories just like this that an uninformed public end up supporting that were created by controlling the narrative (modifying history) to realize a result that increases the perpetrators’ wealth and power. Rarely do they benefit the people that elected them in the first place. Once they are set in motion, they gain momentum and cannot be reversed. In this case both parties in the following administrations have only made this situation worse. The cost of healthcare in the USA is now hovering close to 20% of GDP.  The USA now has the highest cost of healthcare of any other industrialized nation by far. Canada’s cost is about half of the USA’s, but getting access to healthcare when needed is an issue. Is that a tradeoff that you are willing to live with?

The only positive outcome is that the medical business in México benefits by the many people coming from the USA and Canada for medical services they can no longer afford or get in their home countries. The element of greed is always the motivation.

How much history is revised like this?  Does it serve the greater good?  Is it justifiable? Is there anything we can do about it?   

One thing we can do is not take everything that we hear in the media as fact. Do your own research before you blindly follow what is being presented. Frequently both sides of the issue are exaggerated or misrepresented. Those who are trying to convince us that they have all of the answers usually have an ulterior motive. Of course, they sound sincere because they sincerely want and need your support. If you always start with doubt, you will get closer to the truth, and you might be surprised at what you will learn.

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Tim Eyermann
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