Healthcare for My Neighbors?

By Ron du Bois, Prof. Emeritus –

Our medical and medical insurance ethos sadly is that sick people are good for business. That health care should be a money making machine is the mentality of a nation tricked into believing for-profit health care and medical insurance are superior to national health care as practiced in every other industrialized nation. In contrast the ethos of national healthcare is to keep people healthy in order to save buckets of money. It works. Every nation with national health care delivers health care for all at a fraction of the cost Americans pay. The incentives of public health care are opposite to those of a for-profit system.

I am a WWII veteran. My response to conservatives who are certain government can’t do anything right is that I am grateful for VA health care and for Medicare, both run by “the government” and paid for in the same way we pay for public education and the fire department, i.e., through public taxation.

“In the box” thinking places profit over the health of the nation. It prevents Americans from having full medical insurance from day one. Unlike citizens of every other industrialized nation, Americans must wait until old age to get 80% rather than total coverage as in other nations.

We are the only industrialized nation in the world in which parents are forced to advertise in the local newspaper that an account has been set up at a local bank to accept donations to pay for treatment of a child with life threatening cancer. No Canadian, French, or English parent would need to “pass the hat” or to ask for charity in order to save the life of a child. In other nations it is never “charity”, but “healthcare with dignity.”

We are the only nation where private insurance companies can restrict services to a particular state forcing clients to travel thousands of miles for treatment, or dictate where a client can get a blood transfusion, or deny payment for a bone marrow donor search.

“Why should I pay for the health care of my neighbors?” is the outraged cry of conservatives. With national healthcare the answers are: (1) My neighbors pay for mine. (2) It is the ethical thing to do. (3) costs are half or less than half of what we pay now and would cover everyone.

Every other advanced nation pays a fraction of what the U.S. does. Canadians pay $3,000 per capita to cover everyone while the U.S. pays $7,000 per capita and leaves out 47 million plus an equal number of at risk underinsured souls. European nations pay a third of what we do with better outcomes.

A National health care system would make us feel good about ourselves. At last we could say with pride to the world, “We are willing to pay for the healthcare of our neighbors just like everyone else.”

Live in Oklahoma and want to get involved? Ron du Bois is one of the founders of Oklahomans for Universal Health Care and the convener of Stillwater Speaks Health Care Committee. Please contact Ron at (405) 377-2524 or for more information.