The Cruel Twist of American Healthcare

In the US, if you lose your job, you will most likely be unable to afford health insurance unless you have a substantial amount of money stashed away. In usual circumstances, most people who lose jobs also end up losing health care due to their inability to pay health insurance premiums.

Would it not be logical to assume that people who are out of work need healthcare the most?

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been following the town hall meetings and the question and answer sessions between Americans and policy makers and I see so many people who vehemently oppose universal healthcare. These are the same people who will benefit from having an umbrella of protection rather than trusting free markets and capitalist forces to find solutions for their healthcare needs. Capitalism unfortunately is concerned about profitability rather than the health of individuals and when it comes to healthcare, the system has failed.

The successes of manufacturing in lowering costs cannot be applied as an analogy towards reducing healthcare costs. The reason is that while capitalism and free markets end up find the cheapest way to manufacture a product because the components that go into creating a product can be quantified, the services that go into healthcare is not so precise and the industry is very service intensive. A doctor can easily order up 20 tests instead of 5 and the average patient would never know the difference. Treating people also is different from one patient to another.  Therefore having more competition does not necessarily result in reducing costs.  Healthcare insurance providers tend to consolidate smaller businesses and invariably a couple of large companies control the entire system as is the case in the USA.

Insurance companies are hugely profitable and if you examine the profitability of any US operator, they are profitable in all economic climates. If this trend goes on, in a decade most  of these town hall protesters will not be able to afford healthcare themselves.

I happened to watch a documentary on PBS (Channel 13) on the uninsured in America and I saw the problems that many people in the US are facing every single day of their lives. Many people end up dead without access to adequate and timely healthcare.

These are average people who have held steady jobs and paid taxes all through their lives. While the documentary was enlightening, the fact that there are about 45 million or more people in the US without health insurance is real and well documented. If you add another 10% of the US population to this number due to the current unemployment scenario, we come to a figure that suggests that about 25% of the US population does not have health insurance and therefore little or no access to healthcare.

We see screaming and yelling at these town hall meetings with people making statements like they do not want to pay people to be lazy, their small businesses cannot face additional taxes and all sorts of other unreasonable comments without factual data to back up their arguments.

Think about this: would offering universal healthcare drive up or reduce healthcare costs in the country? I think costs would go down with more people participating in a system.  Aren’t we all already paying indirectly for all those people who land up at hospitals without health insurance?

Offering universal healthcare would be actually great for small businesses who right now find it difficult to offer a good healthcare plan to its employees. Something affordable for small business would be awesome.

There is another argument that I have seen from some quarters that “universal healthcare is unconstitutional”. This is the most profoundly idiotic statement I have ever heard. The constitution of the US was adopted on September 17, 1787. This was a long time ago. The constitution has been amended many times after this date and while the constitution is remarkable for any day and age, it is not all-encompassing. In my opinion, universal healthcare should be a right in a developed nation.

Another stupid argument made by Glenn Beck at Fox  is that people from all over the world come to the US for treatment and therefore the system here should be really great. We’ll its true – provided you have lots of money.  These people who visit the US to get treatment are the super rich.

The reality today is that health insurance providers can refuse to insure you for pre-existing conditions. This is fine – till you or someone you care about gets cancer or some other serious disease or health problem. Blindly trusting free markets and good old fashioned capitalism is pretty naive because it works sometimes and it fails quite often. It (healthcare) fails 100% if you do not have money.

Another reality is that healthcare costs in the US is the #1 reason for bankruptcy. Many people with health insurance can still not cope up with the bills due to a major health problem.

I think this is a great chance for the country to make progress on giving universal healthcare to all Americans. Let’s not lose it. Call up your Senator and Congressmen and let them know that you would like to see universal healthcare implemented soon.

We the People of the USA should not be so petty and cheap to not care about the fellow Americans who may not have access to healthcare due to whatever reason. Please support healthcare because the “benefit of the many is more valuable over the benefit of the few”. And your job may be the next one to be axed and shipped overseas.

I for one, am willing to pay more taxes or whatever it takes to make healthcare a universal right in this country.

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