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Healthcare: A Right Or Privilege? Who Does It Better Than US?

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:32 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: National Health Care Plan, Managed Care, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Defective Drugs

Healthcare is done better elsewhere say polls.

Injuryboard asks:  Is health care a right or a privilege?






IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockphoto/ Global healthcare/ author: gmutlu 


Last night’s presidential debate saw a fundamental difference between the two candidates.

Should Americans have access to health care like many other countries, or should there be a different standard for those who are able to pay and/or have insurance through an employer’s plan.

McCain said:

I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. … But government mandates I — I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility.

Obama said:

I think it should be a right for every American. … for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.


Who Does Health Care Better?

Most everyone else, says a recent poll which looked at industrialized countries who deliver more health care at a lower cost that in the US.

Back in July, research showed that Americans are the least satisfied with their health care system while the Dutch system is rated the best.   The poll about health care was conducted by Harris Interactive was conducted in 10 developed countries.  What it found:

  • One-third of Americans say their system needs to be completely overhauled.
  • 50 percent say fundamental changes need to be made
  • In the Netherlands –where health care is financed by mandatory health insurance –9 percent say their system needs a complete overhaul while 42 percent say it works well and needs minor changes.

Believing their system needs a complete overhaul:

  • 12 percent Canada and Spain
  • 15 percent Britain and France
  • 17 percent Germany and New Zealand
  • 18 percent in Australia
  • 20 percent in Italy


The poll talked to more than 1,000 people in each country.

The U.S. model combines private health insurance and publicly-funded programs and spends more on health care than any other nation worldwide.  It ranks low in the overall quality of care, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Frances’ health system which relies on compulsory national insurance was ranked best in the world in 2000 by WHO.  Britain relies on the world’s largest publicly funded system, was in 18th place. 

"Given that all countries other than the U.S. have universal health care systems in place, this may invite questions on why the U.S. remains the only wealthy, industrialized country without such a system," Harris president George Terhanian told Reuters.


Things To Consider : Americans Going Without Coverage

If you are sick you are sick and can’t afford health care, bi-partisan bickering, red and blue states have little meaning.

Employer based plans may be out of reach for millions of Americans who don’t have jobs or have chronic disease and pre-existing conditions.

The most recent estimate is that 47 million Americans have no health insurance.  A published study in August in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds many adults with chronic illness are forgoing doctors’ visits or relying on emergency rooms for their medical care.

Among them, an estimated 16 million have a chronic condition and no insurance for medical care.  That means someone with high blood pressure who is at an increased risk of stroke is likely to get worse and seek more expensive care on an emergency basis.

The authors back a national system of health care because of the eventual cost of covering the uninsured. 


Things To Consider: Income Gap Increasing

A poll taken last month finds 47 percent of workers say they always live or usually live paycheck-to-paycheck.  The difficulties seem to affect most income groups. 

Couple that information with the latest census figures that show the wealth gap is widening.  The information was gathered from the latest census figure on income and health insurance were released in August and taken from 2007 before the country entered its economic downturn. 

Poverty held steady at 12.5 percent then, up from 11.9 percent in the 1990s.  

But the nation’s top one percent now collect 23 percent of total income. That is the largest disparity since 1928 according to the Economic Policy Institute.  47,000 Americans are worth $20 million or more, which is an all time high. 

Both John McCain and Barack Obama reacted to the census data in August. McCain offered tax cuts and policy tweaks to allow more people to buy health coverage. Obama has plans for a broader promise of government help with insurance.

Given that the two candidates have a fundamental difference about whether health care is a right or privilege; that America may be in for a long haul of worsening conditions for the unemployed or underemployed, which ultimately are paid for by all; and that other countries seem able to deliver more for less  - which direction does America want to choose?   #  

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