Health Care Facts For The Actually Interested

Who decides if YOU get health care?

While our esteemed young POTUS gets all sincereish for the cameras about this wonderful Senate bill, let’s take a pause and look at what other countries are really doing with their national health care, as opposed to the scary stories woven throughout our shoddy national debate.

One of the essential arguments conservatives use against “socialized” care is that they shouldn’t be forced to pay for someone else. This principle trumps all, even down to the welfare of poor children. After all, they’re their parents’ responsibility. I guess if they die, that just gets lazy, unproductive genes out of the genetic pool.

Socialized systems vs. free market systems is a valid debate, though, well worth having. It all depends on what you think government is “for,” and how much duty American citizens owe their “greatest country on earth,” and how Darwinian you are in your concern about the welfare of other human beings.

Do Americans have a right to a good education?

Do Americans have a right to expect bridges they drive on to be well-built and maintained?

Do Americans have a right to emergency services maintained by their communities such as the fire department?

Some argue that we shouldn’t have those things, or that they should be part of the free market. That way, Paris Hilton gets the best schooling in private schools (lord knows she seems to need it), she can use a private helicopter to just fly over unsafe infrastructure, and she can use the money she would save on taxes to hire and manage her own fire department. Or maybe her condo association would handle that or something.

Meanwhile, poor people wind up with no or poor education, sometimes die in bridge collapses, and grab a bucket if their house catches on fire and they can afford a bucket.

The American way?

Most people, though, rightfully expect those matters, matters of basic human welfare and opportunity, to be handled by the government. But a lot of those same folks just can’t make the cognitive leap that health care, the most basic system of human welfare, is thrown to the free market like leftovers to the dogs.

Americans were traumatized and scarred by an attack on 9/11/2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people. It was a terrible day. But right now, 45,000 people a year are dying in our great country because they don’t have insurance coverage.

Forty.

Five.

Thousand.

Do those people deserve to die simply because they don’t have as much cash as someone else? Does Paris Hilton have a greater right to life than some poor kid dying of untreated leukemia? According to our way of life, and apparently our collective morality, the answer to both those questions is yes.

If we can pay for schools, bridges, and fire departments, not to mention uncalled-for wars that drain our national coffers (the Iraq war is costing us $7.3 billion per month) and godzillions of dollars to bailout the assnecks that ran our economy into the ground, we damn well should be able to provide health care to all our citizens, like every one of our peers around the world manages to do.

Concerned about the deficit, and all those tax bucks that would presumably get soaked up by a socialized system? Take a look at how much various countries spent per person for healthcare in 2007:

United States: $7290
Switzerland: $4417
France: $3601
United Kingdom: $2992
Italy: $2686
Japan: $2581

All those other countries provide far better health care to their citizens than the United States, and they’re spending a lot less money doing so. Why? Because they’re not leaving everything in the hands of corporate vampires with no morality, only a balance sheet.

Frontline did an investigation into the health care systems of a few of our peer countries around the world, resulting in a report called Sick Around the World. It’s very interesting, showing not only the good things about those alternate ways of doing things, but pointing out the problems that have come up with them. It’s definitely worth watching, and you can do so at this link. It’s also available for streaming on Netflix.

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