Health Care: Let’s Have People over Profits Once And For All

Thom Hartmann

There are some things in this world that shouldn’t be turned into profit-making machines, and healthcare is definitely one of them. Believe it or not, there was a time in America when in almost every state health insurance companies and hospitals were required to be non-profits. Back then, Americans could actually get the healthcare and treatment they needed at affordable prices. But then Ronald Reagan came to Washington, and you guessed it, everything changed.

Suddenly, there was money to be made off of healthcare in America, and a lot of it. Banksters realized that these once-nonprofit hospitals, health insurers, and nursing homes had the potential to become absolute gold mines. Former Senator Bill Frist’s family, for example, made billions in the 1980s and 1990s privatizing formerly county and city hospitals, slashing salaries, busting unions, and raising prices.

Slowly but surely, corporations and the wealthy elite took over our healthcare system, and have left us with a healthcare nightmare. That’s why according to a new study by a prominent think-tank, the United States ranks dead last in a review of healthcare in the industrialized world. For the fifth time in a row, the U.S. has been ranked last in the Commonwealth Fund’s annual review of healthcare in developed nations.

The review looked at healthcare access, efficiency and equity in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. Of the nations included in the review, the United States had the highest percentage of citizens who didn’t get medical care because they couldn’t afford it.

A staggering 37% of Americans said they didn’t get a prescription, see a doctor, or seek out other medical care, because they were worried about the costs. On the flip side, just four percent of people in the United Kingdom said they skipped out on healthcare because of cost concerns. So why such a large disparity?

The United Kingdom has universal health care. In fact, every country the Commonwealth Fund looked at has universal healthcare, except the U.S. The U.S. is the ONLY free-market country in the world without a universal healthcare system, and – not coincidentally – the only one with such a large involvement of for-profit companies in the healthcare marketplace.

Countries with universal nonprofit healthcare don’t have millions of people struggling to afford healthcare. And they don’t have millions of people skipping out on prescriptions because they cost too much money. From Switzerland to Italy, and Norway to France, healthcare is considered a basic human right. No one questions the notion that everyone, no matter who they are, is entitled to lifesaving and affordable healthcare.

But the differences in healthcare outcomes in the U.S. and in Europe go beyond just universal healthcare. You see, healthcare isn’t a profit-making machine in Europe the way it is in the U.S.

In fact, in Switzerland, not only is there universal healthcare, but health insurers are FORBIDDEN from making a profit on basic health insurance coverage, because the Swiss realize, and accept, that healthcare and ballooning profits don’t go together. They realize that profit incentives have to be removed if a healthcare system is going to work for everyone.

Since it went into effect, Obamacare has done tremendous things for healthcare in America. It’s allowed millions of Americans to get the healthcare and treatment they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. An April Gallup study found that as many as 9.9 million Americans have gotten new health insurance under Obamacare, and more than 4 percent of Americans have gotten health insurance for the first time in their lives.

But Obamacare is just one piece of the puzzle. If we truly want to have a healthcare system that works for all, than we need to go back to the days before Reagan, when healthcare wasn’t a cash cow for Wall Street bankers. Unless we take Wall Street’s skin out of the game, healthcare in America will never work for everyone. It’s time to put people over profits once and for all, and require hospitals and health insurance companies to once again become non-profits.

Originally posted at ThomHartmann.Com.

Comments