Sunday, July 27, 2008

Make that two apples a day

America is the only industrialized nation without universal health care. America holds 29th place worldwide in life expectancy. This country follows only Latvia in infant mortality rates. We spend 31% of our healthcare funds on administrative costs, Canada pays 3%. What are we clinging to?

"Socialized medicine" was first coined in 1917 by Otto P. Grier, chairman of the Preventive Medicine Section of the American Medical Association. He said that would be a "fundamental contribution to social welfare." By Truman's presidency the AMA was distributing fliers to doctors in an effort to get them to speak out against it.

When I was growing up, adults used to talk about all the "friends of friends" that knew someone from Canada or France coming to the U.S. because we had superior care. Now we hear about people traveling to India to have procedures because they can't afford to have them in the States.

My father lost his left leg 14 centimeters below the patella in the mid-80's. Our family had health insurance, but plenty of stuff wasn't covered and six weeks in a medical facility  left Mom and Dad with a pile of bills.

One of the first things my parents did when Dad got home was to change their insurance plan to be better covered the next time disaster struck. This April, Mom went in for a checkup at Dad's urging. He had noticed a change in her demeanor and stamina and was concerned.

Turns out that Mom's kidneys were functioning at six percent. That's a great rate for a savings account these days but a terrible rate for organs that filter all the blood in one's body every eight minutes. The doctors kept her in the hospital and health insurance again became a concern.

Mom signed up for Medicaid because one of the non-rejection drugs for transplant patients costs $5000 a month (that seems pretty high, I bet I could buy it from unsavory types on the street at a substantial savings) and Mom won't know which drug will work for her until after the surgery. 

It's bad enough that we don't use the metric system (I feel a rant coming on) but it's disgusting that this country doesn't have universal health care. The state run systems in the rest of the industrialized world prove that it works. The leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is unpaid medical bills.

Wanna stop the bleeding in the housing market? Wanna increase consumer spending? Wanna bolster consumer confidence? Wanna give your newborn a better chance than someone born in 
Slovenia? Universal health care would help.

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