Health care: Time to make changes in the U.S. 2009.03.11

The introduction to a recent article by political writer Joe Conason poses this question: Why does every developed nation except the United States have universal health care?

Other questions ask why Americans spend so more on health care, per capita, than other nations, and why we spend up to twice as much per person as countries that provide universal coverage while leaving as many as 50 million Americans without any insurance at all.

Of the 30 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only three fail to provide health care for their citizens: Turkey, Mexico—which was on its way to instituting care until the economic crisis struck—and us.

An effort to provide health care was first put forth by Pres. Truman and then again by Pres. Clinton. Neither attempt made much headway.

In America, much of population considers universal health care as a dangerous move toward socialism. Countries such as Canada, Japan and Australia might argue against that characterization, but it remains a major stumbling block here in the United States.

Many people argue that government is bad, while ignoring the fact that services such as police coverage, snow plowing, road building, fire fighting, mail delivery, etc., are all part of that dirty word “government.”

It’s past time to begin another round of serious discussions about health care in America. We need to confront the reality of the situation—1.15 million uninsured people in Michigan in 2007, before the recession hit—and work through the stereotypes and misconceptions of what a federal insurance program means to its citizens.

As Americans by the thousands lose their jobs every month, health care will become more and more of a challenge. It’s a shame that we haven’t already joined the other industrialized nations with health coverage to ease the burden many are now facing.

These other countries realized long ago that health care is for the public good and a human right—not only for someone with the right job. We must do the same.