Giving U.S. people access to affordable, quality, preventative medical care and never denying them healthcare would fulfill the promise our ancestors made in the Constitution. They committed to form a more perfect union, establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
But our healthcare systems have not delivered a more perfect union and we are now obsessing about administering the Affordable Care Act, as if routine administration could prevent us from delivering justice and general welfare.
The doctors, pharmacists, nurses and hospital assistants who care for me are among the more perfect people I know, but we’ve encased them in a system impenetrable by those residents who do not have a right to basic, preventable healthcare until they are sick, even dying in emergency rooms.
The quality of our healthcare is less than other developed nations as documented in piles of research. A recent book by T. R. Reid’s Healing America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, Fairer Health Care gave examples that show our quality is unacceptable. For example, as people over sixty, my wife and I face the lowest quality of life and survival rate in 23 developed nations. Infants produced by our grandchildren would face the lowest survival rate within their first year compared to 23 developed nations.
Building a more perfect healthcare system begins with humbly admitting we should do better, especially since our nation’s per person healthcare costs are more than any other developed nation.
“We have developed the most fragmented healthcare system in the developed world, with providers sending bills to a vast array of different players,” says Reid. “All the other developed nations have settled on one healthcare system for everybody that means every patient is treated equally, and there’s one set of rules governing treatment and payment.”
He describes our unique approaches for Medicare and Medicaid recipients, military personnel, veterans, Native Americans, people with end-stage renal failure and members of Congress, On top of those there are scores, perhaps hundreds, of private insurance plans with different rules about coverage and payments amounts. No wonder criminals find avenues for fraud.
We hamstring our caregivers with another disadvantage.
“The US is the only developed country that relies on profit-making health insurance companies to pay the essential and elective care,” said Reid.
For-profit insurance companies fulfill their duty to maximize profits for shareholders by spending twenty percent of their overhead to market plans and seek ways to deny claims and refuse coverage, including the basic, affordable preventative care that would improve our health and cut our costs.
Reid says Switzerland used to have a similar insurance system until 1994 when citizens voted to require universal coverage through non-profit plans by insurance companies, which could also sell supplemental coverage.
The insurance companies and the conservatives bitterly opposed the referendum, but it’s been successful according to a 2012 Forbes article.
“The general health of the Swiss population is at least as high as that of the U.S. population, while costs and rates of inflation are 40 percent lower as a percentage of the economy,” said Avik Roy, a health care analyst and advisor for Romney.
”To have a high degree of solidarity among the people, all must have an equal right—and particularly, a right to medical care,” said former Swiss president M. Couchepin, a former corporate executive and conservative. “Because it is a profound need for people to be sure, if they are struck by the stroke of destiny, they can have a good health system. Our society must meet that need.”
The stroke of medical destiny in the U.S. causes one in ten people to live in families unable to pay their medical bills, according to a study published in 2012 by the Center for Disease Control.
Maybe we could obtain an H-1B temporary work visa for Couchepin to serve as our president as we persist on a moral path toward basic, preventive healthcare as a fundamental right in our great nation.