The True Costs of Health Care

Health Care in America is by far the most expensive in the world. On a per capita basis, and as a total portion of GDP. And the drug costs are too. The same drug purchased in America can be found overseas for a fraction of the cost. America has the highest infant mortality rate of major industrialized nations. We have the highest ratio of uninsured. And we share the dubious distinction (with South Africa) of being the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee health care for all its citizens.

Why, in light of all the money spent, is the system so broken? The simple answer is also money. In every level of care providing, the dollar is the driving force. And more money is eaten up by administrative costs than anywhere else. Estimates vary from a low of 19% to a high of 25% of total health care costs go to the paperwork and management. Entire corporations exist just to manage (and extract profits from) health care. In short, we are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t provide health care because we are the only ones who view it as a commodity, for sale for whatever the market will bear.

How did we get into this mess? The mistaken premise that private entities can do better than public ones. The prevailing thought promoting individual responsibility. Conservative opposition to progressive health care. Pure greed. Successful target marketing promoting assorted treatments and medications that really aren’t needed. The reasons are many.

What are the solutions? Start recognizing quality health care as a right as opposed to a commodity. Restrict the obscene levels of profit seen throughout the system. Make the system care driven, not profit driven. It is inspiring that so many people are starting to talk about it. Now, with the system still spiraling upward, proposals from the past are looking better and better. Hillary Clinton, Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and many others- all were perhaps ahead of their time. And perhaps their time is coming. A growing movement in Oregon that I have become involved with is the Archimedes movement. It is a grass roots organizations looking to bring real change. for more information, visit archimedesmovement.org

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