Universal Health Care: Part I

Views: 340

The idea of universal health care in the United States has remained the figurative 800 pound gorilla in the room.  In the our history there has never been a time that needs universal health care legislation more than we do currently.  Our country needs it and we need it now!

Today we are faced with a challenge unique to the United States.  We have been led to believe that our private system is the way to go, but now it is failing.  We spend more money, in terms of per capita and in total terms, than any other nation of the planet, but yet we have almost 50 million uninsured.

There is a problem with the healthcare system in the United States.  There are an estimated 45-50 million uninsured and even more that have substandard insurance.  We are facing rising costs of medical procedures, equipment and prescription drugs and it would be great if we could throw more money at the problem, but we already spend the most per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world. “In 2007, health care spending in the United States reached $2.3 trillion, and was projected to reach $3 trillion in 2011. Health care spending is projected to reach $4.2 trillion by 2016”.

The problem seems to be a problem of mismanagement and lack of bureaucratic efficiency. “In 2005, the United States spent 16 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2016”.  The US spends more money on healthcare than any other country but yet it has almost 1/6th of its population without health insurance.  Even those without insurance will receive medical care when they need it, but the price of medical care is so outrageous that it often leads to bankruptcy.  This will just continue the horrible cycle of poverty that has crippled so many working people in the United States.

The rising costs of maintaining our healthcare system is increasingly burdening employers, hospitals and the people who have the policies. “Premiums for employer-based health insurance rose by 6.1 percent in 2007. Small employers saw their premiums, on average, increase 5.5 percent. Firms with less than 24 workers experienced an increase of 6.8 percent”.   The employers are burdened and they pass the expenses on to their employers by finding cheaper policies, canceling insurance or simply making the employees pay for the difference.  Since 2000 the costs employees pay for their health insurance rose 143%, rising at an estimated four time faster than the wages of these employees.

Workers who have to support families are asked to contribute even more.  An average annual premium for a family of four is $12,200, significantly more than the $10,712 made by a fulltime worker earning a minimum wage salary.

The system of healthcare that is seen in the United States can be described as inefficient, unresponsive and difficult for average people to manage.  The current system is a confederation of various Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) who control prices and quality of care and manipulate legislation to prevent state run healthcare.  HMOs are the service providers of a healthcare plan, they coordinate through regional alliances between clinics, specialists, doctors and hospitals, to get you care.  The biggest flaws concerning the practice of HMOs is that they restrict where one can get their care to facilities that are incorporated within the regional network.  This makes it so if one wants to see a specialist, or have the freedom to choose between a wide range of doctors they cannot.

There is a lot of news regarding the quality of care received by HMOs, most if it regards them as not fulfilling their quality of care standards.  However, studies have shown that patients tend to prefer the care received from an HMO when compared to a fee-for-service or uninsured experience.  HMOs operated within the system to provide the best service that they can for the least amount of money.  They negotiate, often times with hardball tactics, to lower prices so that they can net a larger profit.  A plan for universal healthcare would either eliminate the need for HMOs or it would drastically reduce their influence, profit margins while forcing a number of them out of business.

The US single-payer system known as Medicare is often criticized for not utilizing its strength more properly. I like to think of a single-payer system as being similar to Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart negotiates with its vendors to provide their supplies for a much lower rate then they would to other companies. This is due to the fact that Wal-Mart is the largest company in the United States and is capable of selling massive amounts of merchandise.  Wal-Mart has a philosophy that if they are not getting a reasonable price then they are not going to sell that product, which will hurt that company a lot more than it will hurt Wal-Mart.

The US single-payer system increases competition amongst the companiesIf the U.S. or Minnesota (for example) were to operate on a single-payer system they would receive the best rates and high quality products. If pharmaceutical companies refused to negotiate or lower prices then the single-payer system could find other sources, such as Canada, to find the necessary prescriptions and supplies.

Since the days of FDR universal health care has been one of the programs that we need the most, but yet it always seems to fail.  In the year 2008 the United States is the only developed nation to not offer universal health care.  China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Serbia, Russia and many other countries offer health coverage for all of their citizens.  Why is the world’s leading democracy refusing to provide health care for all of its citizens?  (Links)

Comments: 10

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

  1. So, we get Socialized Healthcare and then what, we end up like, “China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Serbia and Russia?” Yea, lets turn the greatest country in the world, with the best healthcare in the world into Serbia or Costa Rica… that sounds just great!

  2. Wow, where do you people come from? Do you love to drink the political koolaid? Don’t you see that this administration is attempting to convert this country into a COMMUNIST state? Wake up and smell the socialism!

  3. Those that believe they can take care of themselves should go find an island and take care of themselves. What is the point of building a civilized society when only a privileged few benefit? Social Security and Medicare have helped to create a civilized way of life. Problems with those institutions only arise when inadequate resources are allocated. Government is people working together for a recognized common good. Our institutions should be celebrated and constantly improved. Be part of the process. Be part of the solution. Division hurts everyone.

  4. Profits from human suffering are immoral. Universal healthcare should be a basic human right in the USA. Disease and suffering are the enemy. It will take a united effort to to win this war. The profiteers are laughing at the mass stupidity goaded on by the fear mongering Republicans. End the waste. Share the resources. Ease the suffering.

  5. Universal healthcare is simply the humane path for this nation to take. It is clear that unregulated business or government is fraught with peril. All of the “isms” have their problems. Throwing out labels as invective and fear mongering is pointless. In an educated society science will always search for answers to cure disease. Again, I say, profiting from human suffering is immoral. Until we face disease as we have faced other adversaries, united in purpose, needless suffering will continue. Keep your profit machine for everything else, healthcare should serve humanity. Universal healthcare for all Americans.

  6. Science is doing its job. Progress is being made. Until the knowledge is delivered in the form of comprehensive healthcare, people will needlessly suffer. Isn’t it interesting that Darwinism is condemned by the fear mongers and yet Darwinism is the fact of our current system. There is no logic in continuing that which has failed. Universal healthcare is the only solution to redirecting efforts to serve the common good. World War II proves to me that it’s possible to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and that good will vanquish evil. Until we all work to that end, the status quo will be maintained. It is time for universal healthcare. It is the only ethical path.

  7. Pessimism is a symptom of our times. A paradigm shift needs to be made in order to help President Obama clean house and redirect efforts. I personally believe that Republican ideals have been proved wrong. Republicans squandered the good will of the world after WWII just like they squandered a budget surplus and borrowed money for the war in Iraq. Their policies have destroyed the world economy. All this while enriching 1% of the population and ignoring the environment. How do one equate universal healthcare with loss of freedom? I would rather a regulated and accountable government ration healthcare than have profit driven insurance companies ration healthcare. Obama was elected to get us out of Iraq and to develop a reasoned healthcare system. The people have made their choice. The fear mongers are doing their best to stop his efforts. They will fail and their failure will be a triumph for universal healthcare and all Americans.

  8. I have faith in the basic goodness and kindness of American values that have succeeded over evils of the past. The right wing wants chaos. They want unequal treatment. They don’t want to clean up the environment. They want everyone to carry firearms and let vigilantes to rule the day. I believe in a government by and for the people. Government shouldn’t control us. We should control our government. If we don’t control our government, government isn’t to blame, we are. The right wing is scared to death that equality under laws will prevail and that the status quo will no longer remain. A weak government has given us a load of suffering. We now suffer from a disintegrating infrastructure, botched responses to natural disasters and the weakening of our military through commercial contractors. We need to continue taking back our government. Chaos has nearly brought us to our knees. Universal healthcare is one way we can celebrate a civilized society.

  9. I haven’t responded because I haven’t felt a need to but I guess I’ll ad my opinion. The numbers that you say (the 45-50 million uninsured) are misleading as that’s not the true number. If you want to get really down to it there are like 15 MAYBE 20 million you are truly suffering (they can’t afford it and they don’t qualify for a government hand-out). To those people, my heart goes out but that’s why we have charities to help those people who fall through the cracks. So when you take the ACTUAL numbers you have less then 10% of Americans who can’t afford Healthcare, and that means what? That MORE then 90% of people are covered or could be covered.

    You also have people who believe its a basic right, you have the right to life, liberty, and health care. Sorry but Health care is a service, its not a right. My right to life does not impose on your right to life but my right to health care imposes on those who produce health care (doctors, nurses). You’re basically telling those people that they should live as slaves for the sake of others.

    Let’s get something straight there is a difference between the health care system and the health care delivery system. We have the best health care system in the world, its the delivery system that needs help and hat issue can be solved by getting the government OUT of the way so that a free market work. Contrary to what you may believe we have NO where near a free market system that we should have.

    Here are some facts given to us by Mises.org (I totally encourage you to go there and start learning about free-markets)

    1. Half of all US dollars spent on health care come from Medicare (government health program).

    2. Medical schools whether by intention or accident restrict the total number of graduates per year (or semester).

    3. The pharmaceutical industry derives most of its profits in the US (and not worldwide).

    4. State license boards also restrict the number of doctors allowed to practice medicine (whether as a total population or per year license review/acceptance).

    5. The HMO Act of ’76 had restricted the means of litigation when a given HMO failed to comply with its obligations [per contract]. (Note: I’m not sure if the so-called Healthcare Bill of Rights law actually removed this particular restriction or not, so I’m assuming it has.)

    6. The FDA restricts many medicines that have been proven safe in other countries, and in other trials, especially those related to cancer [tumor] treatment.

    Well, that’s about the six I can think of off the top of my head in terms of factors that add to the costs of health care in the US. Number 1 has to be the most important because Medicare is a bitch to deal with as a doctor as certain doctors will not accept Medicare covered patients as such (unless they offer cash or private insurance instead). Numbers 2 and 4 are important as when you restrict the supply of anything you automatically can assume a higher price for it (even if it seems nominally unimportant or invaluable). Number 3 is important because what people don’t grasp is that because most other nations have socialized medicine, they also have restricted the price ranges on medicines. So, in essence, the US market on medicines is paying for the rest of the world’s ‘cheap’ medicine. Numbers 4 and 6 are important too because it shows further supply restrictions (of two distinct kinds). Number 4 in particular restricts the supply of competent HMOs by virtue of the fact that there’s little [civil] legal fear when a given HMO has failed to fulfill its [contractual] obligations. Thus, the flipside of the market where negative feedback leads to better services [through direct change in the failing firm itself or from a competitor] is nonexistent. Number 6 is very important in terms of restrict the supply of the kinds of medicines one can receive. There are many cancer fighting drugs that are accepted worldwide, even in European nations, which are quite effective and cost effective to produce, yet the FDA has categorically restricted their use or prohibited use entirely.
    (thank you ladyattis)

    I’ve taken up too much time and have written too much. We’ll see if there is anything else I want to write about.