The Liberal Press:
Single-Payer or Bust!
It’s time for the United States to join the First World. Yep, hold your dismissals for a moment and consider this: About three dozen countries in the world provide better quality of life for their citizens than we do. They provide access to education to their citizens at all levels, including College. This does not mean access to loans to pay for expensive tuition, it means real, affordable, education, subsidized by tax dollars. First World countries also have single-payer healthcare systems, in which every citizen has the right to adequate, affordable health care. This does not mean access to exorbitantly pricey “health insurance,” but rather the guarantee that every citizen will have their health care needs met.
I have been exhorted by family and friends to call on my representatives to reject the new, deeply misanthropic health care proposal. I will do more than that, and call upon all of us to reject the old one. While Obamacare was well-intentioned, it was also, unfortunately, an extension of our for-profit health care system, which permits insurance companies to profit from our lack of security.
We deserve the same rights and access to healthcare as Canadians, Europeans, Scandinavians, and many other people living in the developed world. Medicine as a for-profit industry has failed our society, and now we live in a country where health care costs (for healthy, insured individuals) approach the cost of a home mortgage. All elected officials say that change comes incrementally. I contend that incremental change within a broken system is not real change at all. Within all of the new legislation, no one is suggesting that we cut the cost of medicine. How do we cut the cost of medicine? It will take numerous steps, none of which are appealing to lawmakers;
- Tort Reform. We are one of the only countries in which an individual’s right to sue someone else is unfettered by consequences. Why is this so important to health care? Because doctors and drug companies are subject to numerous frivolous suits every year and need to have very expensive malpractice or liability insurance policies. This is good for insurers, and good for lawyers. Tort reform will have a huge positive impact on many levels of our civil society, but the most important will be to lower the cost of health care.
2. Allow more competition in the drug and pharmaceutical equipment industry. There’s no good reason why we should pay ten times more for drugs and treatments than our European counterparts. A single-payer system could more effectively bargain for better prices with drug companies.
3. Reject new drugs and procedures that are too expensive for middle-class people to afford. An innovation no one can afford is no real innovation. Solutions must be scalable to the user, which is all of us.
4. The elimination of the costly middle man. The Health Insurance industry is a huge, and very profitable industry that sucks money away from patients, doctors, and treatment. We need a pool of funds to cover expenses that is not curtailed by profit and dividends. In a single-payer system, private health insurance companies will exist to offer supplementary policies for the wealthy, and those with special needs.
5. Make medical school free for qualified students.
6. Force lawmakers to share our fate. Our elected officials have little incentive to improve a system in which they can legislate their own sweetheart health plan deals, which they enjoy for life. They should have the same care as the rest of us, period.
The United States spends more money per capita on health care than any other country in the world, and places in the low 30’s for medical results. It is estimated that our government already spends the same amount per capita on health care as England does, yet England provides universal coverage for its citizens with that amount. We are obviously doing something wrong. When lawmakers are more concerned for the people they claim to represent than they are for business interests and industry, we will model our own health care system more closely after the better ones outside our borders.
Until that happens, we are going to have to be satisfied with being a rich, developed Second-World nation. Tinkering with a broken, expensive, and ineffective system will not help. Removing millions of people from the rolls of Medicare to give the very wealthy tax cuts will certainly not help. We must elect representatives who have the single-payer system as their goal, and remove those that do not.