The facts about health insurance

Bernie Sanders said it best, “Health care is a basic human right”.  It is only right that all people in a first-world and third-world country should have access to very affordable insurance, if not free (government subsidized), not just the rich or famous, but all people!  Currently we are one of the least healthy countries in the civilized world.  You have to go down the list of total health indicators all the way to #37 to find the USA.  The more important factor is that our expenditures on health care are one of the highest in the world at 17% of GDP.  Connect this idea with the fact that we have some of the best medical care on the planet and one has to wonder where lies the discrepancy? It is true that in our country many hospitals and doctors practice some of the most sophisticated and incredible medicine known to man but it is also true that much of this service is not available to the common person.  Many folks receive second class care because the first question that is asked of the potential patient is, “Do you have health insurance?”.  If the answer is no, then you are treated differently and in some cases denied service or told to go to another hospital.

Where do we rank in WORLD HEALTH as a country?

World Health Organization Ranking; The World’s Health Systems

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 USA

Much of the following information was taken from this site: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective You can see many other related charts at this site. Notice how much more we spend than all the other first world countries!  Don’t forget that all the countries on this chart other than the US have government supported health care.

France is rated by the World Health Organization to have the best health care in the world, and spends 11.6% of its GDP for health insurance for every person living in France.  In France it is a basic human right to have health care.   In America we spend 17.1% GDP on health and we insure only about 70 to 80% of the population.  We spend almost 50% more per person then the next country on the list, Sweden, and we do not even cover all Americans!

Again, look how much money we spend on health care!  So, where is all this money going?  Who is getting rich off our medical system?  Congress is so focused on cutting health care, you would think they might want to find out where the money is going. Lets ask Dr. Obvious where all the money is going. His answer might be something like this: Its going to the pharmaceutical, insurance and instrument companies.  Why do the republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and not fix it?  Because it is trying to take money from the rich corporations and many of our congressman’s pockets are lined with money from these giant companies!

Check out the average age of Americans on this chart.  We die sooner than citizens of all the countries on this list! We often spout off about taking care of our young, so how come we have the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world? It is not often that the answer to our many problems are so easily solved but this one is.  We need to go to a single payer insurance plan and eliminate the money from health care. As long as money is the key driver in our medical care, we are going to receive second class health care and the poor are going to suffer greatly.  Wake up America, we are being fleeced by large corporations and it is only going to get worse if we continue on the path we are on!

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Where are we going Mr Trump?

Its going to get rough

It is easy to understand the resentment that the American electorate has towards politicians and government, but one must remember that our elected officials are nothing more than a reflection of our votes. What really frightens me about this recent election is that we have put into office a man of very questionable temperament and ability to lead the democracy and largest military in the world.  I can only wonder what path we as a country will take over the next four years.  I have been assured by a good friend who works for the military that our system of government is capable of surviving an extremely limited president; let’s hope he is right.  He also says that the nuclear arsenal is not totally controlled by the president, but is limited by a system of checks and balances which will click in before this country engages in a nuclear confrontation; this gives me some comfort!

Based on what Trump has spouted over the last 18 months, I believe he will focus his attention on health care, immigration and trade treaties.  He has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, build a wall on the Mexican border, block TPP and renegotiate NAFTA.  Let’s look at these one at a time.

The Affordable Care Act:

According to reports, there are almost 20 million Americans using the ACA to secure health insurance. Several of the major points of the act are to require insurance companies to insure people who are already sick or injured, that is, pre-existing conditions.  In the past, insurance companies could refuse to insure people who were seriously ill or suffered from long-term illnesses.  That makes sense if you are an insurance company trying to increase your profit but makes little sense if you are a sick person needing insurance.  Another feature of this program is to help insure folks in lower-income brackets with subsidies, which is one of the main purposes of the ACA in the first place. One of the problems is that middle America is paying BIG bucks for their insurance. Many are paying well over $1000/month with very high deductibles.  These are all-important points, but they fail to address the main reality of the insurance crisis: the insurance, the medical instrument and the pharmaceutical companies are making more money than most of us can even imagine!  That is why medical costs are up around 18% of GDP and growing in America but only around 8% in Canada and most countries that offer FREE (tax supported) medical care to their ENTIRE population!  If you talk to most people in these countries, they will tell you they have great medical services .  WAKE UP, America!  We are being fleeced by these mega-companies who have so much money and power that there is little political will to challenge them.  The bottom line is that our country cannot continue to pay these companies these exorbitant amounts of money.  We do not have to worry about the effect that Russians or climate change will have on our society, our country will collapse under the economic pressure of the medical system.  Politicians say that the solution to this problem is to not insure or reduce insurance for a major portion of our population, but that should be unacceptable to any rational human being!  If you think about it, it is almost like the alligator eating its own tail, In the end the alligator will die!  The bottom line is this: as long as corporate America has its hands in the medical till, we are going to continue down the same doomsday path that our country is headed-to economic collapse.  To repeat, it is the greed of corporate America that is taking us down this road while not providing health care to all Americans!

Immigration:

First and most important, we are a nation of immigrants!  Almost every one of us is a mixture of several different ethnicities and nationalities.  I am part German, French and American Indian, and those are just the ones I know about.  Many people believe that this is one of our nation’s strengths!  Yes, there is a problem with people crossing our border illegally in large numbers, but one must remember that they are very often fleeing a country that is so poor it cannot provide for its people.  They are mostly coming to America, the land of opportunity, just like our ancestors did before us, to find a better life.  I think the reason our government refuses to adequately address this issue is that many Americans capitalize on these people’s plight and employ them at substandard wages which takes away some jobs from our own citizens.  This is the same thing that happened to many immigrants who came to America in the past. They worked jobs for a low wage that no one else wanted.  In many ways we have become a global corporate giant on the backs of early immigrants!

NAFTA:  This is an equally difficult problem for us to face as a country.  We cannot isolate ourselves from the economic world nor can we allow the world to exploit our sometimes good nature.  Somehow we need to make our industrial climate a place where companies choose to stay.  This is a hard problem to solve.  If a company can get something manufactured in China for considerably less than in our own country, how do we attract them to use American workers that tend to be much more expensive?  If you talk to entrepreneurs, they will tell you that they can make money by having their products built-in a foreign country and will be unable to compete if they are built-in America.  Many foreign workers work in deplorable conditions for very little compensation.  Environmental regulations are almost nonexistent, and employee rights are not even discussed.  So, we Americans send our manufacturing to third-world countries to be done and then sent back to us at the expense of our jobs and the loss of human dignity.  Of course, people in third-world countries welcome these jobs since they have marginal employment.  Here lies the rub: in order for us to remain an economic power, we must offer some service or product that we create and that the world will buy.  If we continue to support third world countries and decrease our place as a producer of goods or services, the end is inevitable, and the USA will move away from its position of leadership.

So, Mr Trump, how do you plan to navigate through this difficult situation and bring us to a better place?  Maybe you can.  Maybe industry will come back to America. Maybe you have the right stuff to bring our crumbling education system, infrastructure, communication system and aging power grid, to name a few, back up to speed. I sure hope so, my kids and grand-kids are depending on it. So President Trump, let’s see if you can make America great again!