The Most Overlooked Reason for Universal Healthcare

 

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement,
“YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Galations 5:14

 
In all the debates over whether or not to have universal healthcare in the U.S., there is one very simple, obvious reason for it that I almost never hear anyone mention.

It’s so obvious. That’s probably why it is so completely overlooked.

It’s right under our noses.

We should have universal healthcare in the U.S. simply because . . .

. . . (wait for it) . . .

Simply because . . . we can!

Yes, it’s that simple!

I’m sorry if you expected a more complex answer. But hear me out.

Why not? 

We are the richest, most productive nation on earth. Why shouldn’t we enjoy that? Why shouldn’t we make life better for both ourselves as well as fellow members of society? Health care is something everyone wants, and at some point or another everyone will need it. Let’s do it! We have public parks, public schools and public roads. Why not have public access to health care?

This will, in turn make life better for each of us. Diseases would be better controlled and other conditions prevented. Why should our fellow citizens live in constant fear of health issues and painful decisions over whether to buy food or medicine? Let’s be as healthy, productive and happy as possible. Why in the world would we not want that?

There is no reason to make it any more complicated than this.

Instead, we turn healthcare into some kind of game. It is seen as a reward for people who supposedly “work hard” and know how to be enterprising. We link access to health care to employment, even though there are many ways well-intentioned people can fall between those cracks. Through no fault of their own, children are dependent on whether their parents have secured health coverage. Later in life, health coverage could be at risk if you have a pre-existing condition or lose your job. For some people, losing health care coverage is akin to losing their lives. Being in-between jobs should not be a death sentence. Even people who do all the “right” things can find themselves without coverage.

Perhaps it’s our Puritan roots coming back to haunt us. If something is too good to be true, then it must be bad, right?? It can’t be that easy!

We already have the money. All we need to do is take the money we currently spend on health care and instead put it toward a nationalized system. We can pay doctors and hospitals through a Medicare-for-all system rather than going through private insurance companies. We’ll end up covering more people, thus improving the quality of our system, and actually saving money. It’s a win-win. It’s practically a no-brainer. Otherwise, there is always the over-inflated military budget or tax cuts for the rich which could be pulled back to pay for healthcare. We spend more on the military than the next the 8 highest spending nations. But if we don’t even have healthcare for our citizens, what exactly are we protecting with that military budget?

Virtually every other developed nation on earth has comprehensive coverage for its citizens. Despite the fact that American “news” sources report that some of those nations are going “bankrupt,” none of them are showing signs of changing. The horror stories you hear about coverage in other countries are largely false. People generally love the care they get. The bottom line is:  Most would never opt for a U.S.-style system.

The only obstacle is that it would put a lot of private insurance companies out of business. They are getting rich off of the system we currently have, so they are putting a lot of money into the pockets of politicians, lobby groups and anti-information campaigns to halt the progress toward universal health care. But their gains come at the expense of human lives and human well-being. After all, they make money by denying coverage to sick people. It’s simple math: They make profits by getting as much as they can get in premiums and paying as little as they can get away with in actual health care costs. It is an evil system in that it rewards callousness in the face of human suffering. Morally speaking, some industries should never be tied to a profit motive, and health care is an perfect example of that.

Sadly, our current system is not that great. The World Health Organization rates the U.S. as #37th in the world. However, we spend the most by far! Why aren’t we getting the best care for our money? This makes no financial sense.

Lack of Social Contract:  Could it be racism?

So many Americans live in fear that their neighbor might benefit from their tax money, they end up biting their own nose to spite their face. They would rather deny coverage to everyone (including themselves) rather than let something benefit their neighbor.

If your family were sick, you would probably want to provide for them. So why wouldn’t we want to provide for our fellow citizens? I think the reasons is exactly that: We don’t see ourselves as family. America’s original sin is racism, as Jim Wallis points out. Here it comes to bite us again. We don’t want universal health care because black people might benefit from it, or Hispanic people, or LGBT people, or some other groups that we don’t like. We’re so individualistic that we barely see ourselves as part of a shared society at all. European countries have a sense of shared culture and heritage so they have fewer problems insuring each other’s health care, because they see each other as part of a shared venture together—they are going forward as a whole society together, not as isolated individuals.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to any hospital or doctor at anytime and have access to all the care you could ever need without having to navigate a complex system of in-network and out-of-network providers, (assuming you have coverage at all)?

If you got rich in this nation, it’s partly because we as a society made that possible through education, infrastructure as well as police, fire and military protection. You didn’t earn it “by yourself.” We all helped you. So this is one way to pay it back. But more importantly: We’re all in this together. Let’s act like it!

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