The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee health care for its population. And this the cause of a a growing health crisis, made even worse by a global pandemic. Almost 30 million people have no health insurance and another 86 million adults are underinsured – meaning they have inadequate health insurance or can’t afford the co-pays and deductibles required before their insurance coverage kicks in.
The U. S. spends far more on health care per person than any other country in the world – in fact more than twice as much as the average for other rich countries. We have the best technology and certainly among the finest physicians and other health-care professionals. Yet we are not getting our money’s worth in terms of good health. The United States ranks near the bottom of the industrialized world in life expectancy, infant mortality, and other standard measures of health. The World Health Organization ranks the United States 37th in overall quality of health-care performance.(WHO 2000). No wonder, since so many don’t have health-care coverage at all and millions more have inadequate coverage.
The fundamental problem with the healthcare system in the United States is that it is designed to create profits for a few rather than guarantee healthcare to everyone. Corporations are taking over all aspects of the system giving them a tremendous amount of control over prices and what health care people can or cannot have. Major health insurance companies currently receive most of their revenues from the government by providing “public insurance” such as Medicaid managed care organizations and Medicare Advantage plans. The government has become a cash cow for the health insurers, a guaranteed payor that will line their executives’ and investors’ pockets.
The first and most basic step that needs to be taken in order to create a functioning healthcare system that is universal, improves health, and controls costs is to decommodify health care. Health care does not belong in the marketplace.
The wealthiest nation in the world clearly ought to be able to deliver quality health care to all its citizens, no less than other industrialized nations. Health care is a critical social good that demands that collective interests prevail over private gain. It should be viewed as a right, not a privilege.
Email your Congressperson and demand Medicare for All!
Howie Hawkins, 2020 Green Party Presidential Nominee, and Dr. Margaret Flowers talk about Medicare for All and a National Health Service. Read about Howie’s proposal for Medicare for All via a Community Controlled National Health Service here.