Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Rant About U.S. Universal Healthcare

There is so much rancor out there right now regarding the U.S. Universal Healthcare (legally known as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) and the country is starting to believe, majority-wise, that universal healthcare is a bad thing.

Most people seem to be in fear of the cost of the plan, as in dollars. I tend to think about the cost to people, as in human beings.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, "a non-profit, private foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health care issues in the U.S." has done extensive research and analysis on U.S. healthcare.

Here are some of their findings:

* In 2005, the U.S. spent $2 trillion on health care, which is 16% of GDP and $6,697 per person
* Health care costs have grown, on average, 2.5 percentage points faster than U.S. GDP since 1970
* Almost half of health care spending is used to treat just 5% of the population
* Prescription drug spending is 10% of total health spending, but contributes 14% of the growth in spending
* While about 26% of the poor spent more than 10% of their income on health in 1996, the number increased to 33% by 2003
* Many policy experts believe new technologies and the spread of existing ones account for a large portion of medical spending and its growth

These are very sobering statistics and here is one more, 32 to 46 million Americans, of them 9 million children, have been without health insurance in the U.S. That is more than 10% of the population.

And we are all to blame for the increased costs in healthcare. We choose to take drug after popular drug based on our own neurosis, and worse, we shove drug after over-prescribed disorder drug to our children.

We are the most obese and sickly citizens in U.S. history and we take on the least amount of exercise than any citizens before us. And we are possibly raising the first generation to live, on average, fewer years than their parents. I hear gym classes are not even mandatory in many school across our country.

And all of this has happened over time, this did not become the norm over night. And yet screaming blabbermouths on the air scream "Obamacare!" like it's the threat of the nation.

Personally the threat of the nation is 46 million uninsured people going to emergency rooms across the country for colds, sprained ankles, scrapes and other conditions that could have been handled by a competent doctor in his/her office with an appointment, if they had healthcare.

I'm also wondering when we became such a selfish country. To think 46 million people without health insurance is a better system than universal healthcare is just unfathomable to me.

Partly I think people are not looking at this issue on a human scale. Look at your extended family of say, 50 people. Now of that group, choose 10% of them and tell them they cannot have health insurance. Look at your niece, tell your grandfather, tell your child, "sorry, health insurance is not for you".

You can't do it, right? Well, we do it as a country every day, but no one has to go out and tell an American that you can't have health insurance, it is just part of being a free country. The markets decide who can and who cannot afford health insurance coverage. It's easier when no one has to take responsibility for it.

It's time to stop being such a frightened and paranoid country and to start making bold moves to ensure each and every citizen has the rights and freedoms to be healthy, happy and strong. And that includes ensuring each and every one of us has adequate, safe, and cost-effective health insurance coverage. No one should have to choose between dinner and a pill. It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be cheap, but what is more humanly expensive than 46 million Americans without health insurance?


Keith said...

Interesting (and more than a little scary) reading this in the UK under our new government.
All I can say is dream on! Your figures say it all really - it's just too huge an industry to allow the kind of wholesale changes that we all know to be morally right. The man and woman working on the production lines of US factories know it to be right, yet there pension dollar is inextricably linked to it!
I do wish you all the best of luck in the fight for fair healthcare for all, but it will take time.

Nic said...

Anything the government gets there hands on goes to shit! Enough said.