Friday, April 18, 2008

What I learned from Universal Healthcare

I ran across this article which gave a good close look at how five other countries provide universal healthcare.

Three things stood out:

1. Solidarity

Over and over in the interviews, representatives from each of the countries talked about solidarity. It occurred to me that such a concept is lacking in America. Face it, our country is very much divided. Universal healthcare doesn't mean national healthcare, so to frame the issue as a personal responsibility/Republican vs. government entitlement/Democrat debate is to completely miss the point. Americans don't believe all Americans should be taken care of, as Americans, because of our social division. As long as this social division persists we may get nowhere on healthcare. Our social division stems from a history of racism and extreme individualism. Our division probably also stems from the number of ways "American" is defined. The inability of individual American citizens to stand up for their neighbors in this and many other areas, just based on the fact that they are Americans also, is troubling.

2. Non-profit Healthcare

Most people don't understand what non-profit is. They somehow think that a non-profit organization is all-volunteer and funded by contributions. Of course this isn't the case. The people who run a non-profit may charge for cost of material used and services. What they can't do is pay investors or offer stock. For a long time I have wondered why our government allows the profit motive to exist in the healthcare industry. Money and compassion are like oil and water.

3. Facilitating, not Funding, Coverage

Of the five countries mentioned in the article, only one, the UK, fully funds health coverage from taxes. The other governments facilitate coverage primarily through regulation. This regulation includes:
1. Making it illegal to turn people down or refuse to cover pre-existing conditions
2. Offering premium assistance to low-income families and/or pegging premiums to income

2 comments:

JaaJoe said...

Did you see the Bunk study stating 2/3 of doctors in America want National Health Care. The doctors who did this study also conducted one in 2002 and found that the majority of doctors did not want national health care, the problem with this is that the 2 question surveys drastically differ in there 2nd question. I found this article, 60% of Physicians Surveyed Oppose Switching to a National Health Care Plan, It's worth a read

David T. said...

Drs. don't want Universal Healthcare because it would control costs to keep them reasonable, which could mean a paycut up to 1/3 of what they are making now.