You really want to be the greatest country in the world?
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Here's the thing. I believe that in a first world country, every citizen deserves a certain base level of healthcare. Not a certain basic level of health - that's up to individual choices, genetics and random chance - but a certain basic level of healthcare. Everyone should have access to a doctor's office when they feel sick, a hospital when they're injured, ongoing care for chronic conditions, immunizations against preventable diseases, and treatment for catastrophic diseases and events. The USA is supposed to be this shining beacon for the rest of the world, and yet many of our citizens are unable to afford basic health services. People won't go to the doctor because a diagnosis of cancer isn't a death sentence - it's a LIFE sentence. A lifetime of debt paying for treatments insurance refuses to cover.
You want to stop abortions? How about we cover single women's health care when they get pregnant? Guarantee they won't lose their jobs when they take time off for their child? Guarantee they can afford to pay for all those doctor's visits and the delivery? How about we give women free access to whatever birth control they choose and prevent that surprise pregnancy in the first place?
You want to see America REALLY be the land of the brave, self-made man? Tell the guy who is tired of his corporate job he can quit it and start that small business he's always dreamed of, even though his wife has a chronic condition that requires medical care. Don't tell him he has to keep his corporate insurance because her pre-existing condition prevents him from buying private insurance while he starts a new business.
The free market simply doesn't work for health care. If your child has leukemia, you can't go shop for the cheapest treatment. You don't have time to negotiate for the lowest rate on the best chemotherapy. You don't look at your health insurance lifetime limit and decide maybe your kid only needs half the treatment. You give the child what they need and you pay with your credit cards, your house - Hell, you'd sell your soul if you had to.
The Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, but at least it's something. At least it gives that young entrepreneur the chance to start a business in spite of his family's health issues. It gives that parent the breathing room to let their child get the treatment he needs without forever capping his healthcare expenses. It gives women the chance to control their own fertility choices.
But if you want to make America a true beacon of freedom and innovation to the rest of the world for the centuries to come, then let's institute a true single payer system. Let the world's largest economy negotiate with healthcare providers for the best rates. Let's prove to the world that EVERY American is worthy of a standard of care that would be the envy of every other country.
We can do it, so why don't we?