An Argument for Universal Health care

This article refers to the state of health care in the United States

The time has long past for the United States to join the majority of nations and provide her people with a national, public, single-payer, government provided healthcare system. You may or may not refer to this is “socialized medicine” or “Universal Health Care.”

Yes, we should do our level best to take care of ourselves, but there should never be any individual whose life is less important than money, nor should there linger the specter of financial ruin and destitution of entire families due to illness. The point of view that healthcare as a basic human right should not be a political or economic position, but one of morality.

Being and staying healthy is a crapshoot if access to health care is limited or non-existent. Many are very familiar with the horrors that encumber the uninsured or under-insured; nor the tribulations of those who are disabled and living on a fixed income.

There is no shortage of data and information outlining the sheer scope of unnecessary deaths and utter financial catastrophes that were and continue to be the result of having little or no access to proper health care, including the cost of medication and follow-up care such as physical therapy, etc.

Suffice to say it is nearly impossible for these millions of people living in United States, the richest nation in the world, to maintain dignity and quality of life. This is especially true for those receiving Social Security or Disability, as the Medicare premiums, copayments and deductibles often result in some very difficult choices.

The Importance of Charity

I would be remiss and somewhat hypocritical if I didn’t include the role that charity plays in this situation. My family, as have countless others, have benefitted from the kindness of friends and strangers on more than one occasion, the lates being when I was recently diagnosed with cancer and required care that I could not, under any stretch of the imagination, afford to pay for.

Our friends and neighbors both in the community we live in here in Panama, and from throughout the world came together and through a fundraiser on social media organized by our closest friends, raised enough money to cover the costs of the pre-op, operative, and post-op care I required. My family will be forever grateful for this.

There are many public, private, and religious charitable organizations the provide a lifeline for many thousands of people, but with that said, the reliance on the kindness of individuals or the assistance from charitable organizations can only go so far, as by design, charity is a temporary solution.

Cancer often returns, catastrophic injuries can and often do require years of physical therapy, there are a plethora of illnesses which are degenerative and incurable that require a lifetime of attention, and many people suffer from numerous illnesses and diseases concurrently.

I am all too familiar with this, as in addition to surviving cancer, I am also diabetic, have hereditary peripheral neuropathy, and Parkinson’s Disease. While I am able to still get around, I have to use mobility aids, and my vehicle is fitted with hand controls. But, these conditions will be with me for the rest of my life, and as I get older, I will require an ever-increasing level of care that would bankrupt even the wealthy.

A Political Football

I have thoroughly examined the political arguments for and against universal or socialized medicine from a political point of view, as well. However, politically, the core my position on why healthcare should be a right and not a privilege remains grounded in the Constitution of the United States, which starts off with:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Yes, I know there are many people who interpret this in different ways, but my lengthily and detailed research compels me to hold steady.

Economics

Based on my observations, much of the opposition to universal or socialized health care focuses on funding it. Yes, the cost of funding this type of healthcare would require either a new tax, or an increase of an existing tax. This means all of us who pay taxes would be required to help pay for it through more taxes. And this is a point of contention for many people, from those who view taxes in general as theft by the government, to those who feel they are already paying too much in taxes.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but there comes a point when the good of the many outweigh the good of the one. Such is the nature of taxes. We all pay for the roads, bridges, libraries, fire departments, and the plethora of other things that are taxpayer funded. True, some of these are questionable, but the health and welfare of our neighbors should not ever be questioned.

Sharing the costs of funding a national health care system would actually end up with health care overall being less expensive for everyone, and the money paid out in taxes would be far lower than what many are currently paying for health insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other out of pocket expenses.

There is a great article by the AMA Journal of Ethics titled “A Single-Payer System Would Reduce U.S. Health Care Costs” or this article, titled “Universal Health Care Would Save Americans $600 Billion A Year.” If you want a government report, there’s this article from the NIH, “Projected costs of single-payer healthcare financing in the United States: A systematic review of economic analyses.”

I have not even expounded on the indirect and residual costs of our current health care system that are resultant of an overall unhealthy population, including loss of employment, the cost or retaining and training new employees, what non health insurance companies are paying out for accidents and injuries due to people not being able to afford to live a healthy life, workers comp claims that can be avoided, etc., etc.

Final Thoughts

Yes, the concept of a single-payer universal health care system can be a volatile point of conversation. The Internet is rife with information countering the efficacy of a national health care system from several points of view. Some of the arguments against are well thought out and presented. Many, however, are fraught with unfounded claims surrounding the quality of care, wait times, how it works “over there,” and then others are little more than soap boxes for those who have nothing better to do than sling insults and threats into the ether.

This article, if you have gotten this far, is my point of view. It is based on many years of research, my personal world views, the experiences I have had navigating the health care system as a disabled person for over two decades, and the personal costs and consequences that my family has had to endure since the mid 1990’s.

Your comments are welcome, but please understand that I will delete comments that are threatening, contain personal insults, or use excessive profanity. Also, I will ask you not to post commentary and links on conspiracy theories. Just, don’t.

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