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Problem Child, Healthcare

Alina R

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Spread the Truth

Most countries pride themselves in having universal healthcare coverage for its citizens, it is quite a different story in one of the most developed nations in the world, the US. Most people here have a private insurance which often is expensive in comparison and doesn’t cover enough preexisting conditions. Some people who were unlucky enough to get diagnosed with cancer had to face another harsh reality, the fact that their insurance doesn’t cover such a serious illness. Bankruptcy and cancer, unfortunately often go together in the United States.

Many are opposed to a socialized healthcare system, partially because they have fallen for the doctrine and vilification of the word “socialism” seemingly ignoring that they are likely using, or having used other social systems. A vicious circle emerges, with people not having healthcare,
getting sick, not being able to pay their bills and us having to pick up the check for the Hospitals spending money trying to get their money back, i.e. lawsuits etc. Ultimately affecting the economy.

One of the many myths surrounding “free” healthcare in countries such as Australia, the UK or Canada, is that they pay much higher taxes which they are used for healthcare. Not the case; in fact, the US spends much more of its taxes on healthcare than the above-mentioned places. Only around 28% of Americans get their healthcare through government-funded programs.

The cost for private healthcare, which most Americans use, is way higher than anywhere else, making up 18% of the GDP. The reason for that is that everything is more expensive, opposed to beliefs such as the higher obesity rate in the US or unhealthy lifestyle habits.

One interesting factor why the price for healthcare is so high is that doctors are scared of malpractice lawsuits hence why running a lot of unnecessary tests on their patients. Tort reform has been passed in some states, limiting the number of malpractice suits, resulting in a significant drop, for the cost of healthcare.

“Why is universal health care, which is commonplace around the world, so hard to achieve in the United States? Why are we unable to overcome a market-based system that leads to a hundred thousand unnecessary deaths each year? Corporate interests in maintaining this system are powerful, as is a culture of competition and consumption that sees health as a personal choice rather than a human right. The odds against universal health care advocates are long: What does it take to turn a market commodity into a public good, and dismantle an entire industry along the way?”

“Also, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey from February 2016 showed that the label
matters as well. Over 70 percent of Americans support Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan. But they weren’t as enthusiastic about “universal health care” or “single-payer” health care. Although there are some real potential differences in these concepts that voters might be responding to—the term “universal health care” doesn’t specify financing or delivery, and “single-payer” doesn’t specify how the scheme is actually administered—the KFF poll potentially illustrates that there are barriers to understanding whether the public actually wants and understands a universal health-care system.”

It doesn’t end with people just going bankrupt, around 45,0000 Americans die each year as a direct result of being uninsured.

Republicans say that Americans don’t want top-down government control of their health care. But what we have at the moment is top-down corporate control of health care. Insurance companies, drug makers, sellers of expensive equipment, hospital executives, labs, home-health-care services and others unnamed prosper by exploiting the chaos in our health care system.

“As Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and 15 other senators release details of their universal healthcare bill – one that guarantees access to healthcare for all Americans while simultaneously creating cost savings – there will be many healthcare conspiracists claiming that such a plan is infeasible. So as we consider these arguments in the coming weeks, we must always be prepared to make sure they pass the “look!” test.

That is, when someone argues that something cannot be done, we needn’t argue. Rather, we simply need to point and say: “Look!”

Doesn’t someone believe we landed on the moon? “But look! There’s an American flag up there!” Doesn’t someone believe we can insure every single American while simultaneously reining in the exorbitant costs of our healthcare system? “But look! Every other developed country in the world is already doing it!”

These medical conspiracists claim that such a system would be impractical, overly expensive, or provide inferior care. But to make these claims in the face of obvious proof is laughable.

If Canada is able to provide coverage for each of its citizens from birth to death, with no out-of-pocket-costs to any of them, all the while providing high-quality care with excellent patient outcomes at half the cost of our system, it is unacceptable to say that we somehow cannot.

Real people living in other countries are currently enjoying these systems. They can change jobs without fear of losing access to their diabetes medications. They can go jogging without worry that one slip and broken bone would send their families into bankruptcy. They can go to their doctor never questioning that, at the end of the day, she has any incentive to do anything but make them better.

So how could one be so bold as to deny this reality?

The truth is that nobody is content with our current healthcare system. We do poorly when it comes to access to care and equity, administrative efficiency and cost containment, as well as basic health outcomes.

We pay more than double what other countries do, and get worse results. Our life expectancies are shorter than any other developed nation. Children die in the US unlike in any other modern society. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US. Our overspending on health care directly limits what we can do with defense, education, and infrastructure.

Real Americans are going through real pain every day
Yet when it comes to talk of change, people become skittish. Doctors become scared that change would mean lower incomes. Patients fear longer wait times and loss of access to services.

The fear of losing the small benefits we currently enjoy is prohibiting us from enjoying far greater ones at half the cost. It’s as if we’re so scared of losing our crumbs that we are ignoring the entire loaf sitting within reach.

We need to learn to trust our eyes and ears and be suspicious of the naysayers fearmongering us away from something better. We can, and should, argue about the precise form our system will take – the US’s universal healthcare system will almost certainly have a different flavour than, say, France’s – but we can no longer accept that such a system is impossible.

Importantly, we should never forget the stakes. Real Americans are going through real pain every day. I have seen a patient come to my emergency room stating: “They diagnosed me with cancer but said they couldn’t see me because I have no insurance. I have nowhere to go.”

I have seen a patient having a florid heart attack walk out against medical advice stating, “Thanks doc, but my brother went through this and lost his house. I’m gonna go.” And I have heard many well-insured patients say “I hear you and you seem nice, but all you doctors want to do is make money off me, so I don’t know who to trust.”

To experience all this while knowing that something better is already out there is simply unacceptable.

There are no easy answers or solutions to this complex issue.

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