Healthcare Should Be A Right, Not A Privilege
Although I belong to neither party, I have always been an independent-minded person finding equally stupid and brilliant ideas on both sides of the political coin, this is not to say that I am not a person of principle and of strong opinions, it is just that my thinking does not neatly fall into anyone’s box. I espouse ideas that I think are fair and just for all, and in the best interests of our country. One of those ideas, about which I have always felt strongly, is that healthcare should be available to all, in the same way that police and fire protection is available. You should not have to be wealthy to have the police protect you, or the firefighters put out a fire in your home, or to get medical care when you are ill.
“America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” (Walter Cronkite)
Senator Kennedy, in a speech in 1978, said that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. I agree. However, today’s reality is that if you are wealthy you can buy whatever healthcare you want or need for yourself and your family. If your wife gets cancer, you don’t need to lose your home in order to pay for her chemotherapy. If your child needs a kidney transplant, you are not at the mercy of a health insurance company administrator who deems that operation ”experimental” and therefore not approved. In a country such as ours, a beacon in the world for freedom and opportunity for all, you would think that providing medical care would be a fundamental right for all of our citizens, not just those with the means.
According to a new Commonwealth Report:
“Despite having the most expensive healthcare system, the United States ranked last overall compared to Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The research measured five performance areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives. …[T]he United States stands out for not getting good value for its healthcare dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on healthcare in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.” (Healthcare IT News | June 23, 2010)
Nothing exemplifies more concretely the widespread lack of healthcare in the United States and the enormous need for it than the thousands of people who travel hours, camp overnight, and wait in extremely long lines to get free medical and dental care from free mobile medical clinics like the Remote Area Medical Foundation (RAM). RAM went to Inglewood, California for eight days this past summer in 2009. The need was so great that the bus services had to be extended because of overwhelming demand for rides to the clinic. (L.A. Times Article August 12, 2009)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Nearly 59 million people in the U.S. are without health insurance. (Reuters, November 10, 2010)
Unfortunately, even after the RAM clinic spends days at any given location in the United States, the demand is so great for medical care that thousands of Americans need to be turned away. Many who are seen at the clinic require routine care, but many others discover that they have chronic conditions that require additional or ongoing medical treatment, which they, of course, cannot afford due to lack of health insurance and will not be able to get because they now have a “pre-existing” condition.
Surely, as a country we can do better than this.
Martie Hevia (c) 2010 – All Rights Reserved
[Based on my previous blog post: Healtchare: A Right, Not A Privilege]
Articles of Interest:
- Reuters, November 10, 2010: Nearly 59 Million Lack Health Insurance: CDC
- The Big Picture (Macro Perspective on the Capital Markets, Economy, Technology and Digital Media): U.S. Ranks Last in Healtcare vs Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom
- Healthcare IT News: U.S. Ranks Last Among Seven Countries on Healthcare Performance
To find and write to your Congressional Representative, go to: Write Your Representative – U.S. House of Representatives Website. And to find and write to your Senator, go to: Senators – U.S. Senate Website.