Why America is falling behind on health care
"The United Nations has long had criteria as to what constitutes an “industrialized, developed nation”. There are currently 33 on that list. Of that number, 32 have Universal Health Care…all except the United States of America. Further, without exception, all pay through some sort of mandatory fee, tax or other compensation from all its citizens.
There are three basic methods of collecting needed funds so that all citizens get full health care: both preventive and treatment. And all three methods have been long standing and successful.
One is the Insurance Mandate, now being challenged in the Supreme Court. Among the nations that have such a plan, the most successful are several European countries (notably Germany with a highly regarded health care system). Very simply, the government mandates that all citizens purchase insurance, whether from private, public, or non-profit insurers; and if from private sources, no one can be rejected.
Some countries have what is called a “Two Tiered Plan”. The government provides or mandates catastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for everyone. Additional voluntary insurance or fee-for service care can be purchased if desired. Thus, the government provides a core policy which can be supplemented with private insurance. But everyone is covered. We attempted to employ a variation of that idea with the “public option” in our legislative health care debates, but that was quickly rejected by conservatives in Congress.
Then there is the Single Payer plan which about half the developed nations utilize. Again, rejected by conservatives, and badly mischaracterized as some sort of socialized medicine. The fact is, the actual medical care (with the exception of a couple of countries) is carried out by private providers. In short…your doctor. This is not unlike our highly successful and highly regarded Medicare system. Also, already government run, and widely accepted are the military Tricare and VA programs. And few complain about “infringement on personal liberty”.
So, while we clearly are out of step with the rest of the developed world on universal health care programs, what is often lost in this debate are the effects this has in the overall health of our nation. There are a number of ways to determine the “health” of a country, but perhaps the simplest one, and most easily defined is life expectancy. Notably, virtually every country (of the 32 countries referred to above) with universal health care, are in the top tier of longevity. The United States now ranks 34th on that list, according to theWorld Health Organization.