We have the most expensive health care system in the world but that does not mean we are the healthiest society. We rank 27th in the world for the quality of our health care. We have 45 million uninsured people. And, worst of all, we are 25th in the world in life expectancy, infant mortality, and rates of immunization. We claim to be the greatest country on Earth but usually that means militarily. Out of the 36 industrialized democracies in the world we are the only one that doesn’t consider health care a right.
Many insured people have to file bankruptcy because their health care coverage doesn’t pay for uncovered deductibles, procedures or co-pays. Also, the bankruptcy law was changed in 2005, making it infinitely more difficult to obtain.
Many people die because their illness is considered pre-existing and they can’t get health care and even fully insured people perish because their treatment is “experimental.” It wasn’t always this way. Centuries of human history have revealed that health care was always considered a right. The village healer was always available and people helped each other.
In the United States between 1940 and 1980, most states had laws requiring hospitals to be non-profit organizations and to treat all who came through their door. The philosophy was that we want doctors making decisions on what is best for their patients and not what makes the most profit.
Then along came Ronald Reagan, followed by Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. Health care became a privilege and not a right. The local example is the loss of the Washoe County Medical Center as it morphed into Renown Health Care. Now if you have a lot of money you can get the necessary health care. If you aren’t rich, you get what won’t cause a loss to the medical corporation. People in power made huge profits off of the privatization of hospitals by milking all of the money out of them when they made the transition to a private entity.
We have two methods to bring the United States up to first world standards. We can socialize medicine where government provides all the health care through its own facilities and doctors. Or we can have single payer healt care where the government is the only insurance company. The Veterans Administration is an example of socialized medicine and Medicare is an example of a single payer system.
In a single payer system you can still choose your doctor and just show your health card and get treatment. If you have money you can still get private medical services.
We have been brainwashed that privatization and competition leads to better health care services. It doesn’t. It just leads to monopolies and more money for those in control of the large corporations.
We need to reclaim our right to health care. We need to guarantee health care for all our citizens. If that means that someone can’t make a profit, so be it. No one should profit off the suffering of others.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.