If in fact we value human life, as we say we do, answering this question is a “no-brainer.” It is incredibly sad to see a country like the Unites States waste millions of dollars on campaign advertising, billions of dollars on company and bank bailouts, trillions of dollars on wars, and then say we can’t afford universal health coverage. If government isn’t going to protect the lives and health of it’s citizens, why then does government exist? What exactly did we design government to do for us?
Universal health coverage for all citizens is available in every industrialized country in the world except South Africa and the United States. Currently the United States ranks highest in health care costs by over twice that of any country employing government health care for all of it’s citizens. The World Health Organization does not even rank the United States in the top five in effective delivery of health care services and the U.S. barely makes it into the upper third of industrialized nations. That and we spend more than any other country with nearly 45 million folks lacking any coverage at all.
The United States spends nearly a third of all health care costs on administrative expenses. This is a deplorable waste of lifesaving dollars. Another problem is capitalism. Allowing drug companies outrageous profit margins and protecting patents for years and decades allows successful drug companies to virtually pillage anyone in need of their patent protected drugs. Medical device companies fit into this category as well. Litigation and ridiculous awards and malpractice suits have forced doctors to obtain malpractice insurance which is incredibly expensive. The administrative costs, prescription and medical device costs, coupled with a litigious society of lawyers and greedy insurance companies (health and malpractice insurers) have all conspired to push our health care costs out of control. Costs are only getting worse. In the first two months of 2009, health care costs are increasing by an annualized rate of nearly nine percent. A tour of the Bureau of Labor Statistics site shows the staggering inflation that the health care sector is experiencing.
It doesn’t require the telescope of the Palomar Observatory to see where this is heading. The evolution of our health care system and associated costs are unsustainable. Currently, short of tremendous regulation and the repeal of several laws designed to protect research and development costs, i.e. profits, the government is going to have to step in and change the entire way the medical sector does business. Greed, profit, and the almighty dollar are simply going to have to take a back seat to the quality of human life. The simple alternative is that one day we will find that only the wealthy have health care access. That time is quickly approaching and it’s time for government to realize it is here. If in fact government is not going to protect it’s citizens from the ravages of corporate greed, it is time to begin to question why in fact we have government at all.