The idea of a universal, government run, health care system seems from this side of the Atlantic a ‘no-brainer’. At 17% of GDP, or more than $7,500 per American per year, you are paying double what any of the other industrialized nations pay where everybody is insured, while in the US 46 million go without health coverage.
But what strikes me even more than those in the US who defend an expensive and dysfunctional private insurance system is the fact that a lot of these costs are due to the extraordinary greed of the CEOs and executives in the health care businesses.
If you really want to get angry, don’t look at Wall Street. Check out the salaries, perks, bonuses and lobbying of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. (For an exhaustive list see “The Sick Business of Health-Care Profiteering” by Matt Kapp, Vanity Fair, 9/24/09.)
For some reason which escapes me, the rich and greedy have managed to convince many of those who would have everything to gain from a cheaper and more universal system that they should oppose it.
Sure, working people can get upset for paying for those who don’t pay but the point is you are going to pay any way, so would it not be better to pay less? Although many do die because they cannot afford the proper care, hospitals and doctors are obliged to do something when the sick and injured show up and it’s your taxes which foot the bill.
The present system with no government regulation leads to extra costs, often because un-needed tests and medicines are prescribed in a world where the profiteers scratch each other’s backs. Also, because uninsured people do not see a doctor when the illness could be checked quickly and cheaply, you end up paying more when the complications set in.
We have not moved far since the early 1920’s when the UP’s Carl Victor Little wrote : “Millionaire Harold F. McCormick today bought a poor man’s youth,” in reference to one of the first male gland transplants. Eighty years later we still have a 1st, 2nd and 3rd class system.
I work in a country listed as number one for health care by the UN. You live in number 37. True, I pay a hefty sum to the kitty and I get angry over abuse and the fact it is always the same people who pay for those who always take. But at the same time, this system saved my own life 12 years ago. I often wonder what care I would have got in the United States given I would not have been able to afford the on-going treatment, not to mention the $200 000 operation? I have not paid a penny.
In France, when a drunken, homeless man falls and cracks his skull in Paris, he will be picked up by an ambulance and taken to hospital where he will receive the same kind of care as I would. That is worth paying (less) for.
I heartily recommend that those opposed to universal health care take the time to reflect on who is profiting from the bad system in place and who would benefit from a new single payer system? I think you will find you are a victim of vampires who just cannot make enough money off of people’s suffering and death.
I must add that in countries where there is a universal system, doctors are not starving, more nurses are being hired, hospitals have modern equipment and all these countries have dynamic and profitable pharmaceutical and insurances industries.
To cite Winston Churchill, Americans always end up doing the right thing after they have exhausted all other options. Well?