A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund highlights one of the United States’ biggest — and least excusable — problems. The study compared health care in the top 11 developed countries and found that the US ranks #11 for quality and accessibility. The best health care is in England. As if to add insult to injury, the report notes that the US spends about $8500 per capita on health care, while the far superior English care is only about $3400. We spend 2 1/2 times as much to receive much less than the English.
So much for the ridiculous argument that “socialized” medicine is no good. Our own success with Medicare ought to have proven that to everyone in the country but some folk are just hard to convince. Speaking personally, I am alive today because of Medicare. Without it I would have refused the costly surgery, preferring to die rather than leave my wife bankrupt with no hope of ever getting out of debt. Had I not already been in my 70s, I might have chosen differently, of course.
One doctor told me the US has the best health care in the world. . .except that very few people can afford the best. He thought that was no more of a problem than someone not being able to afford a Rolls Royce. I am very disappointed in that doctor for failing to recognize that there is a difference between luxury and life itself. But his insensitivity does suggest part of the problem: Our practitioners are (at best) unaware of how much harm they are doing by making such inordinate profits off other people’s troubles.
Oh yes, I’ve heard all the arguments that the US needs to spend a bit more than others because we are doing all the best research and development. That line has a couple of flaws. One, we are only doing some of the R and D, not all of it and not always the best. Two, the outrageous monies we’re paying cover not only R and D but huge profits for the industry.
There is, I am very convinced, no possible moral justification for the cost of health care in the US. I certainly do not, I emphatically do not believe that saying “It is just good capitalism” is a moral argument.
While I have been ashamed of those politicians who have told so many awful lies about Obamacare and for political reasons have tried so hard to make it fail, I do not believe the Affordable Care Act addresses the problem squarely enough. It is an attempt to answer the wrong question. We should be asking not how to pay the great costs but how to contain them.
Can you imagine Jesus getting rich off his ability to heal people?