Your health is not negotiable

Joseph Glatzer

Health care is a right for everyone. It shouldn’t be considered a privilege based on class rank.’ The fact that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship is a disgrace.

A single payer not for profit system is the answer. Everyone in the U.S. would be in one big insurance pool, with private insurance companies abolished.’ Everyone would pay into the system with their taxes.

It would eliminate the profit motive in health care.’ An insurance company makes money by denying care.’ Every chemotherapy treatment and breast cancer screening it denies adds to its bottom line.’ With single payer denial for coverage based on pre-existing conditions, $5,000 ambulance rides, being denied treatment because it’s considered experimental, and going into bankruptcy because you got sick would all be a thing of the past.’

Taxes wouldn’t increase. If you consider astronomical medical bills, co-payments, and premiums, then taxes would decrease under a single payer system.’ Whatever the slight income tax increase would be, it would still cost the average person much less than what they pay now.

The focus would be on prevention, instead of forcing the uninsured to wait until an illness becomes catastrophic and having to go to the emergency room.’ It would have been relatively cheap to treat that person early on, but instead the taxpayer is stuck with a much larger bill.

According to the World Health Organization, we spend more money per capita on health care than any country in the world, yet we still have approximately 46 million Americans without health insurance.’

If the money isn’t going to care, then where is it going?’ It’s going to million and sometimes billion dollar executive salaries, TV commercials and magazine advertisements touting things like the newest erection pill, and lobbyists in Congress.’ This is the so-called free market at work.’

If we cut out the middle man, we can save a lot of money.’ The lobbyists protecting this multi-billion dollar industry have been fighting reform and cost-control procedures since universal health care was first considered by Former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935.’ ‘ ‘ ‘

Some things are best left out of the marketplace, such as fire departments, police, schools and libraries. We consider these institutions important enough to society as a whole to ‘socialize’ them.’

We all pay taxes to provide these services to everyone regardless of income or class status.’ Should a firefighter ask for a fire insurance card when someone’s house is on fire?’ Should the local librarian kick a poor child out of the library because they don’t have library insurance?’ As ridiculous as these things sound, it’s even more ridiculous to kick a less fortunate child out of a doctor’s office for not having health insurance.’

According to the World Health Organization’s exhaustive survey from 2000, France is ranked No. 1 for providing the best overall care.’ Other western and northern European social democracies, like Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom follow closely behind in the rankings, as would be expected.’ What’s abominable is that poor countries like Chile and Costa Rica rank above us.’ The U.S. is ranked 37th.’ Even Cuba, a poverty stricken island due to the U.S. embargo, provides universal health care and is ranked 39th.’

The main criticism of single payer countries like Canada is the wait times.’ I recently met Rodolph Pierre-Louis, a Canadian temporarily studying in the States.’ I was curious to know what the Canadian system is really like. Pierre-Louis said, ‘If it’s minor surgery, it won’t take that long, if it’s a complicated one it might take a little longer, depending on if the surgeon is available.” He couldn’t think of anyone he knew who had a really long waiting period, and told me what he likes about Canada is its system is based on meeting the citizens’ needs, not profit.

Maybe you will have to wait a little longer for elective surgery in Canada, but no one has to worry about filing for bankruptcy or losing their home because of’ medical debt. No one has to stay at a dead end job they hate just because it offers health insurance benefits and no one dies because they can’t afford to pay.’

In the U.S. it’s a different story.’ Those who are lucky enough to have good health insurance don’t have to wait.’ Unfortunately, there are approximately 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance.’ There are another approximately 50 million who are considered under-insured.’ In the U.S., half of all bankruptcies are now due to medical debt, more than half of those are people who actually have insurance and thought they were covered.

People are needlessly suffering every day due to lack of care.’ How do you determine who is worthy of medical care and who isn’t?’ It’s not right to live in the richest country in the world and still leave so many millions of people behind.’ We can do better than this.