Those people who are swayed...
...by the propaganda of the US private health insurance corporations and the corporate mass media should take a few minutes to consider this:
Nearly 50 million Americans do not have health insurance, while another 25 million are under insured. (KoTK: this number seems to be subjective, depending on what side of the insurance fence you're on. US News, NCHC, and CNN to name a few, give very different numbers. Remember the old adage, "figures don't lie, but liars can figure".)
The amount people pay for health insurance increased 30 percent from 2001 to 2005, while income for the same period of time only increased 3 percent, as reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The typical family health insurance plan costs $12,000 a year or more.
Health care expenditures in the United States exceed $2 trillion a year. In comparison, the federal budget is $3 trillion a year. (KoTK: my two second research shows the 2009 budget is $12 trillion and estimates for 2010 is $14 trillion - just suggesting that the author of this piece may have gotten his numbers from unreliable sources)
In a study completed by the Commonwealth Fund, 45 percent of the adults in the survey reported that they had a hard time paying their bills, even with health insurance, and had been contacted by a collection agency or had to change their way of life in an effort to pay their medical bills.
Approximately 50 percent of personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses (a Harvard study points to 60%, others may something else)
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 28 percent of middle income families (annual family income between $30,000 and $75,000) stated that they were currently having a serious problem paying for health care or health insurance. (ed: I don't know why these families are having problems; I doubt that it's simply the cost of living - perhaps trying to live up to instead of within their income? Just a thought)
In terms of costs the US are the highest in the O.E.C.D. (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (KoTK: this is apparently a European organization and the correct spelling in the title is 'Organisation'). In terms of health outcomes, life expectancy and infant mortality the US ranks 39 in the O.E.C.D., on par with Cuba.
But the world's most profitable for the US health insurance industry.
Note: Kitten (KoTK) supplied the links in this post. The italics are the original email. KoTK's comments are in regular font. The moral of the story: don't be swayed by anything but your own research.
I'm not swayed by the corporate stance on health care.
US health care is reputed to be the best in the world. If we change our health care to what, say, Europe has, in my opinion, we'd be lowering our ability to provide the level of health care that the US now provided.
People in other countries come to the US for treatment that they can't get elsewhere. Yes, it's also true that Americans go to other countries for alternative health care. While I have no real data, those I've heard of going to other countries either die or do not improve. It could be because they are beyond the abilities of the treatment they seek to improve their condition. I honestly don't know. But I do know that I've heard of few (in fact, none that I can think of) people who go to other countries for treatment and improve or cure the condition.
Believe me, I am sympathetic to the un- or under- insured, and in favor of providing some kind of health care for them. But, I also don't want to see our health care disintegrate to that of a second or third rate country. I'm worried that is exactly what will happen if our health care system is modeled on the European system.
Since I've been working for my current employer (27 years), my employer has paid for my health insurance 100%. When my husband was living, he was covered under my insurance as a dependent, but I had to pay for his insurance through mandatory payroll deduction. Every year, his portion of the insurance went up as well as co-pays.
We were just informed that in January that we employees will be paying $25 every payday for our insurance. I have very good insurance (except for dental and vision as I've said) and $25 is a drop in the bucket compared to what many people pay (and definitely less than the dependent costs). I am not complaining one bit that I have to pay something for my insurance now.
The uninsured and the under-insured need something, there's no doubt about that. I believe that had my husband had insurance in his younger days, his later health issues might have been avoided or at least lessened to a degree where he had a better quality of life.
How about this: a basic health care account for all American who are uninsured. Another tier where the under-insured can supplement what they do have. For example, I have good health insurance through my employer, but the dental and vision parts could stand improvement. Maybe someone else needs to supplement, say, prescription benefits.
I think Medicare or Medicaid would be good place to start. The programs are already in place; a "tweaking" if you will, or maybe a complete overhaul to implement service to all Americans, would be necessary, but why start a whole new program when something already exists that does something similar now? Those without insurance are in, let's say, the Medicaid system and stay there until they are insured under an employer's insurance plan or purchase their own health insurance. A secondary plan could augment whatever insurance plan they have, but only if the person chooses to augment.