The United States is 37 in world healthcare rankings. That’s the lowest of all industrialized, western nations. According to the World Health Organization, places like Morocco, Oman, Greece, Singapore, Andorra, and Malta all rank far above the U.S., despite having much smaller economies. What’s the reason why the U.S. can’t get healthcare right?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) — There is one big reason why healthcare is impossible to get right in the USA: ideology.
The U.S. government is dominated by two political parties, both steered by ideology and influenced by narrow special interests. This means health isn’t the focus, profits are, ideological imperatives interfere with common sense.
Healthcare in the U.S. is a $3 trillion industry. Spending is up to nearly $10,000 per person and continues to grow, rapidly. The drug industry now exceeds $400 billion. Is care and medication really that expensive? No. Every other country on the planet provides care and medication for less money while producing better health outcomes. Why?
Among conservatives, profits are sacrosanct. Healthcare is one of the most profitable industries and virtually every big investor has a major stake in healthcare. These investors also wield political power because money equals speech and political access. The result is we have an entire segment of our population getting rich off the illness of others.
The apologetics they offer is that profit-driven care means more care and better care. But that clearly debunked when the U.S. healthcare model is compared to those in other countries.
Republicans also oppose providing healthcare to people for free. Of course, nothing is free, and somebody has to pay. That somebody tends to be the wealthy and the middle class who pay higher prices, higher premiums and higher taxes to provide healthcare for people who don’t work. It’s mostly an issue of greed, because the marginal price increases are small, due to being shared across many payers, but it is also a point of fairness. Why should anyone pay to subsidize the lazy? However, it’s not just the lazy, who make a small segment of those who need care. The majority of non-working people are children, the sick, and elderly. They deserve care.
Other problems stem from religious concerns. Obamacare heavily promoted abortion, abortifacients, and contraceptives. Many Americans have sincerely held religious beliefs that oppose these practices. Yet the law does not exempt them, and forces all to pay for these procedures. It’s insane to expect a sincerely religious person to set aside their beliefs and engage in activity they believe to be sinful. These provisions in Obamacare are the cause of several lawsuits.
Common sense ought to dictate healthcare policy, not ideology.
First, it’s immoral to profit from the illness of others. This isn’t to say that doctors and nurses shouldn’t be well paid. After all, they work very hard. But there is little need for Wall Street fortunes to be made off illness. Perhaps if there is a revolutionary new medicine or procedure, one could understand a period of premium pricing, perhaps a couple or few years. Just enough to keep the incentive to innovate there. But beyond that, healthcare should not be a profit enterprise, it is a common good.
Eliminating profit motives would substantially reduce prices. Next, introduce tort reform. Doctors are humans and they make mistakes. Suing has become the new lottery, and it’s driving up the cost of care. Mistakes are not always the result of criminal negligence, and we have a criminal system to deal with such misdeeds.
Maintain a dual system of care, private and public. Some people will prefer a private system of care. That’s fine, let them take their tax money as a voucher to reduce the cost of their private plans. If they don’t like the private system, the public system will still be there for them.
Protect religious freedom. Allow people to check off a religious exemption box on their taxes and healthcare forms. Reduce their taxes, and they cannot access those things to which they object; they don’t pay, they don’t participate. And if they change their mind, they can uncheck the box and they can pay the slightly higher rate. Or, they can purchase what they choose at cost. It’s how freedom works.
American civilization has lost its collective mind. Ideology and money dictate policy, not common sense.
Unless this changes, American healthcare will continue to decline, with rising costs and diminishing quality. Obamacare is a disaster because it does nothing to manage costs. It is ideologically intended to trample religious freedom and even human life. At the same time, reform efforts are disasters because they’re frankly cruel. They threaten to throw sick and poor people off their coverage. They do little to improve prices, and they keep industry profits above health, the same as Obamacare.
It’s time to put down the smartphone, to turn off the reality TV, and to change our system. Every citizen should be demanding common sense reform, rejecting the ideologues on both sides and supporting voices of reason. We still have a democracy. We can still vote for the reasonable candidate as opposed to the party. We’ve been blinded by Republican vs. Democrat scam.
Each day it’s a new headline, Republicans won this, Democrats won that. But when’s the last time the American people won?