Friday, March 24, 2017

Health insurance for all. Communism? Socialism? Or common sense.

Much has been made of the United States being the only major country which does not offer universal health care as a right. Certainly, America is a country of inertia. We are still holding on to our ounces, pounds, inches, feet, yards, and miles long after the rest of the planet has gone metric. But why no universal health care?

Chalk it up to the Cold War. On the positive side, under President Eisenhower, the Cold War gave us today's inter-state highway system, justified by the need to interconnect military bases in a time of conflict. On the other hand, it quashed health care for all.

Eisenhower opposed Democratic proposals for single-payer health care because it smacked of socialism which smacked of Communism. While Eisenhower did sign into law some aspects, such as the still-in-effect tax break for employer-sponsored health coverage, that measure still fell far short of universal coverage.

Even today, opponents of universal health care only need label it "socialized medicine" to re-frame the discussion as "governmental overreach" versus the "free market." We have already seen that "free market" does not work for health care. We have the most expensive health care system on the planet. Yet the overall health results for the American population as a whole are mediocre at best. Global surveys ranking how efficiently health care systems serve their populace put more than 30 countries ahead of the United States. In terms of the health care the U.S. ought to be able to deliver to its citizens, it comes in just ahead of Slovenia and Cuba.

We are at the bottom of the list of top industrialized nations in the state of health and health care of our citizens. The ACA began to address that by having 30,000,000 more insured today than before the program was put in place. America's rate of uninsured is now the lowest it has ever been.

The simplest answer is to not to abandon the ACA to "not hurt" small businesses when they grow to more than 50 employees and are mandated to provide employee health care — which does not mean they must pay for all of it! Certainly, the ACA can be refined so that companies and individuals do not fall into gaps which cause hardship. But the real answer is to go "all the way" to universal health care so that the burden of health care insurance is lifted from businesses and individuals alike.

Banish the "socialist" bogeyman.

Tell your Congressional representative and senators you are voting for affordable, comprehensive health care in 2018.

And if they quote "free market" and the need to repeal "job killing Obamacare," just tell them gently but firmly that if health care were universal, there would be no need to choose between killing jobs or killing people.

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