It is a disgrace that the wealthiest nation in the history of this planet is failing to provide many of its citizens with good basic healthcare services. It is also shameful that, as a nation, we have let political ideologies stand in the way of forthrightly addressing this urgent need.
We have allowed ideologues and special interest groups to hide behind the masks and costumes of cost and practicality while 40% of our citizenry remain without any, let alone adequate, insurance coverage. Every day hardworking men and women without healthcare insurance face the prospect of losing everything they have, and ending up hopelessly in debt, due to a medical emergency or a chronic illness.
The suggestion that the cost of national healthcare insurance would bankrupt the nation is bogus. If every citizen was guaranteed coverage, this universal pool could be expected to average out the risks and, if efficiently administered, would reduce the per capita cost of delivering good healthcare services and the insurance to pay for these, and perhaps even the total cost of both.
What we now have is a system in which citizens without insurance end up seeking treatment in emergency rooms, which are the most costly source of healthcare services, long after their healthcare needs might otherwise have been treated or even prevented at substantially lesser cost had insurance been available to them. These so called "charity" cases threaten to bankrupt the nation's providers. This is significant because the effect is to dramatically increase the cost of insurance to those that are fortunate enough to have coverage, thereby creating the illusion that universal coverage would be too expensive.
The claim that universal healthcare coverage would lead to the allocation of services is a straw man. Healthcare services are already being allocated. If you donate enough money to outfit a critical care hospital room at your local hospital, you'll find the room will always be available to you. With a few notable exceptions, healthcare services are allocated on the basis of wealth and/or position, sometimes to the benefit of those who don't really need healthcare insurance.
I am interested in this issue not only because of the social injustice of our present healthcare delivery systems and the lack of availability of good insurance coverage to many of our citizens, but because I have schizophrenia and other serious medical conditions that have on occasion made me a second class citizen. I know what is like to be told I'm not worth saving.
Why is it so hard for some to comprehend that universal healthcare services and insurance will accrue to benefit of all our citizens and to the future of our democracy?
Published On: December 07, 2007