US Is One Of Only Three Developed Nations Without Universal Healthcare For All, OECD Report Shows
by architek, Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 02:27:07 PM EDT
Salon has a good article about the ugliness of the US healthcare situation and how it could possibly be this way.
It's entitled "The questions our healthcare debate ignores".
"Last month, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued the latest in a long series of reports on our wasteful and cruel practices that ought to awaken a sense of national embarrassment."
DEPRESSING fact that is mentioned NUMBER ONE: "Among the OECD's 30 members -- which include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- there are only three lacking universal health coverage. The other two happen to be Mexico and Turkey, which have the excuse of being poorer than the rest (and until the onset of the world economic crisis, Mexico was on the way to providing healthcare to all of its citizens). The third, of course, is us."
(Here is the actual report from the OECD web site)
"The story gets worse as the details emerge. Although the public share of health expenditure in the United States is much lower than any other OECD country except Mexico, the public expenditure on healthcare is much higher per capita than in most OECD countries. So we pay a lot more in taxes devoted to medical care -- not including insurance premiums, co-payments, fees, and other health costs -- than taxpayers in those 27 countries that have universal coverage. Our public expenditure provides coverage only for the elderly and some of the poor (through Medicaid and the SCHIP program for children) while other countries provide universal coverage while spending less."
"How much less? Nations with comparable standards of living like France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and Japan spend roughly between half and two-thirds per capita what we spend annually. They cover everyone and their results are measurably better. And the supposed downsides of universal coverage, such as lack of access to sophisticated medical technologies, are belied in many of these countries. For instance Japan has lower per capita health expenditures than the United States (and universal coverage,) but its citizens have greater access to MRI machines, CT scanners and kidney dialysis equipment than Americans do."
"As the study suggests, our grossly inflated and poorly managed health budget results from a variety of pathologies, including a greater prevalence of obesity and other chronic illness, a powerful pharmaceutical lobby that keeps prices high, and the profit-making imperative of the private insurance companies that still dominate American health policy, more than four decades after we established universal coverage for the elderly and the poor. Looking forward, the OECD advocates many of the same incremental reforms contemplated by the Obama administration."
(Obama's stated goal is to improve healthcare efficiency and improve affordability- by 2019)
"But it is difficult to imagine how the United States can afford to provide quality healthcare for all of its citizens in an era of diminished resources -- unless we look to the example of other democratic states around the world. Long ago, they realized that if healthcare is a public good and a human right, the domination of private interests must be curtailed."
(Obama plans to spend around 63 billion dollars a year to reach his goal. But we could afford an 800 BILLION dollar handout to banks in order to cover their gambling debts and keep housing prices out of the reach of many Americans. Meanwhile, 14,000 Americans are losing job-provided health benefits - many can't afford to pay elsewhere - a day!)
What is wrong with this picture?