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Universal Health Care

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My first thought was to perform research and to document that the amount of money spent in the USA on health care is astronomical, and that the majority of the population does not have access to affordable health care.  I decided not to spend my time assembling facts and figures that everyone already knows, that are readily available elsewhere, and that most people would not read anyway.  Instead, I decided upon a different approach.

The issues we face about health care in this country are not simply statistical or economic.  The issues also involve philosophy, morality, common sense, and the question of whether or not we intend to act toward each other in a manner which is humane.  Come to think of it, most of the failed social polices in this country can be described in exactly the same way; lacking common sense, morally bankrupt, and inhumane.  This article is the declaration of an ordinary American, who is speaking on behalf of millions and millions of Americans who have completely lost faith in their elected officials, who have completely lost the ability to communicate with their elected officials, and who are no longer represented by their elected officials.

Politicians take heed; the current “official” vision of the future of this country is unacceptable.  In order for us to survive as a society and to be able to sustain ourselves in the future, several changes must be made.  First and foremost is a mandatory Universal Health Care Plan.

I believe it is time that we recognize that the experiment we have been conducting by providing health care to our citizens with a free-market system, especially employer-sponsored health coverage, is a failure.  It does not meet and will never meet the basic needs of our population.  Too many persons have no access to health insurance coverage, and those who do are seeing themselves being slowly but surely priced out of that market and unable to afford basic services.  Meanwhile, for critical care, those who are unable to pay don’t, and the cost is indirectly passed on to those who can through higher premiums and higher service costs.

An analysis of this model shows that this trend is not sustainable since more and more employers are reducing or eliminating coverage for employees altogether, thereby reducing the amount of persons in the pool of patients with access to care and with the ability to make payment for the care.  The shrinking pool of covered patients can only result in higher prices for all services.  The costs are spiraling out of control, and yet we are able to provide less and less care for fewer and fewer persons. Is this humane?  Emphatically, no.  Does this make sense?  Of course not.  Are our elected officials listening to us when we say that we want meaningful, lasting change that will meet our needs?  I am afraid not.

A popular critique of the idea of a Universal Health Plan is that it is based upon a “socialist” model which has no place in a free-market society.  Those who support the free-market version profess to want to provide the most care and the best care to the highest number of persons possible at the lowest cost possible, driven of course, by free enterprise.  However, those persons are not willing to take the final step that is necessary in order to protect those who have coverage from paying for the care of those who do not have coverage, namely, refusing those persons access to care.  This is viewed as inhumane, and rightly so.  Critical care is provided whether or not payment is afforded, and the cost is merely passed on to those who do have coverage. 

The flaw in the logic, then, is that while it is currently professed that we live in a society with a market-driven health insurance model, nothing could be farther from the truth.  We are spreading the risk over the entire population in order to pay for the care of the entire population, and are simultaneously paying for care for persons who do not or cannot participate in, or contribute to the plan, for a variety of reasons.  The current system, while disguised by political pundits as a free-market enterprise, is nothing more than a socialist model which is broken and which does meet the needs of the entire society.  I dare a politician to announce that we, as a society, will no longer pay for care for those who cannot afford it, and that we will exclude those who cannot pay from using our system.  This would include critical care needs in auto and other accidents, acute and long-term care for the critically and terminally ill, and children, and non-citizens, to name a few.  It will never happen.  And unless it happens, the system we have is not a free-market enterprise, but rather a substandard version of a socialized plan. 

The true socialist model mandates that everyone have the same access to care, regardless of income or social status.  If we are going to operate under a socialist model, we might as well be good socialists and at the very least meet the needs of all of our citizens.  Since our current system, mislabeled by politicians as a free-market system, cannot meet the needs of our society, it is time to replace it with a system that will.  If that system is based upon an ideology that is considered to be “socialist” or “communist,” but yet provides a more comprehensive and humane approach than our current system, then perhaps it is time to recognize that the free enterprise model of economics cannot and will not solve the health care crisis, and that perhaps the notion that a free enterprise system can solve every problem in society is flawed. 

Is that un-American?  I think not.  Is that anti-capitalist?  I don’t believe so.  I believe it is more anti-capitalist to expect that employers and employees continue to pay enormous costs that prohibit them from being competitive and that ultimately lead the businesses to fail.   What is so wrong about wanting to find a way to provide health coverage for all our citizens in a cost-effective manner that protects both our lives and our jobs?  Nothing!  What if the most effective method is a “socialist,” mandatory, Universal Health Plan?  So be it! 

We need a Universal Health Plan that provides cradle-to-grave coverage for all members of society, citizen and non-citizen, funded by premiums paid by all participants based upon the ability to pay (yes, a graduated, flat tax with no deductions, exemptions or loopholes), that eliminates the current level of bureaucracy in the administration of benefits, that frees the most amount of money to be spent directly on patient care rather than on bureaucracy and administration, that is free from the propaganda of managed care (another colossal failure) and that allows freedom of choice in treatment options, that fosters research, innovation, and a high quality of services, and that excludes no one.  Is anybody listening?

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DaveyS is a 5th-generation Texan now living in California, a proud liberal (product of the public education system in North Texas!), and a staunch critic of conservative policies that are destroying our nation.

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