What is it with Americans and universal health care???
This is one of the many things I simply will never understand about my society.
The United States spends vastly more money on health care than any country in the world, yet we rank far behind the rest of the developed world in the quality of our health.
If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, a handful of DEVELOPING (read: THIRD WORLD) countries rank above us for goodness sake!
I’m horrified that we spend so much money on health and get so little for it. Medical costs just should not be the most common reason people go bankrupt in a country this rich.
Now, yeah, when I was a kid I heard all the ‘death panels’ and ‘lines out the door and around the corner’ horror stories that get told about healthcare in other countries.
And I believed them. BECAUSE I WAS A CHILD.
It didn’t take very long though, to begin to realise that one never saw these lines when passing health centres in other countries. And one DID see elderly people – lots of them; so, what is the ‘miss’ rate on those death panels?
Eventually I noted that I had never had a single acquaintance whose Grandma had been death-panelled off by their government. And interestingly, in Ireland, my friends’ Grandmas were getting some splendid benefits that made their older years far more rich. Hmmm….
Then for about 10 years I worked with people from all over the world. Being naturally nosy, and fairly low on social graces, I polled them mercilessly about their socialised medical systems.
I had a Canadian colleague in one of my jobs who lived and worked here, but tried to fit in all of his medical appointments when he went home to visit his family, because the care was better and the expense much lower.
The worst rating that I’ve ever gotten from colleagues in Canada, the UK, across Europe, anywhere with universal healthcare, is that their system was roughly comparable to mine for appointment times and better for treatment.
The most common ratings I’ve gotten still leave me slightly in awe.
So, I’m definitely all soap-boxy about this issue because it irks me to pay a lot of money for poor quality.
The truth of the matter is, my interest in universal healthcare goes FAR beyond the cost-benefit-analysis (because let’s face it, an accountant, I will never be!).
The thing that really surprises me in this whole ‘we don’t want universal healthcare’ mindset is that universal healthcare supports freedom.
THAT is the bit I’m mostly interested in!
- How many parents have wanted to stay home with their kids but couldn’t afford to give up the job that had the healthcare benefits?
- How many people with a passion to start a business don’t do it for the same reason?
- How many people could afford to work part time and devote more hours to something they really want to do if affordable insurance wasn’t bound to certain jobs with certain numbers of hours?
- How many people have wanted to change jobs, but had a sick child, or breast cancer, and couldn’t risk losing the coverage?
This came home to me very clearly when I was in grad school.
I had a classmate who had some awful disease that really required several months of treatment, surgery, and bedrest to hope to beat it, but she was still taking the required number of hours each semester to keep up her student status.
She was completely unable to manage her workload, and totally stressed out (which can’t have been improving her chances to beat the illness), but she kept trying to do it because there was no other option. Why? Because her medical insurance was through school and she would have been left to die if she stopped going to school.
Her illness made my life a great deal harder, because she couldn’t be relied on in any group project, but can you imagine what HER life was like?
So yeah, I’m a big fan of freedom, and I’m big on opportunities, and honestly, I’m pretty big these days on people not having to literally sacrifice their lives to keep an insurance policy over their heads. I’m a HUGE fan of quality care for reasonable costs.
It has also occurred to me that lots and lots of small businesses create far more jobs, and more stable economies, than one or two giant corporations owning everything, and that as long as people are bound by the need for health insurance we will remain limited.
“But KAT!!” someone says, “We can’t trust the government!”
No indeed. But we can CHANGE the government. Which is a lot more than we can do with the shareholders or CEOs of insurance companies (unless we happen to be filthy rich).
I know which scenario I have more confidence in.