American Health Care

American Health Care
3/13/2010
Scottsdale AZ

Many Americans think their system of healthcare is the greatest in the world. I disagree. It’s a system that fails miserably because it fails to look after all of its citizens in a reasonable way.

I have a friend whose daughter broke her arm for the second time in six months. Each time, the arm was repaired for an out-of-pocket expense of $500. The actual cost for the first break was $3500 and $5500 for the second break because it was more complicated. The family has a $500 deductible for each incident, which, given the general costs for health care, is reasonable. The same situation would have cost me $8000 because I have an annual deductible of $8000 per family member. I choose to have a high deductible because it gives me a lower monthly premium, so again, I say this is reasonable. It’s my choice.

One of our temple employees, who works full-time, has no medical insurance because she has a pre-existing condition. No insurance company will issue her a policy. In her case she would have to go to a public hospital, claim poverty, and have the arm repaired at the public expense. If she owned property the hospital would sue her and try to take her home to pay the expenses. This is not reasonable. Why should a person who is working full time not have reasonable access to healthcare? Having to go to a public hospital means being treated as a second-class citizen. It also means this person will not have regular healthcare checkups. She will only interact with the medical system at times of crisis, the most expensive way to approach medical service, and it is the public who will pay.

Finally, I have friend who owns his business and has health insurance that he has been paying for many years. He recently became ill and has medical bills that amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. His insurance company is refusing to pay because they say his treatment is useless because his condition is terminal. However, he has yet to die and his condition is in remission. The hospital is suing to take his house and other properties to pay the bills. This is not reasonable. In fact it’s immoral.

This is the American healthcare system. The treatment is good, yet access to reasonable care is not universal.

The healthcare in this country is mostly a ‘for-profit’ enterprise. In order to maximize profits insurance companies avoid paying for treatments, as they are doing in the case of my friend who became ill, and they will not give policies to people whom they feel are bad risks, as in the case of our temple employee with the previously existing condition. From a business perspective insurance companies may be justified, but from a human suffering point of view the system is unforgivable and even immoral.

There is not a single ‘first world’ country on this planet, not the UK, not Germany, not Canada, not Australia, France or Japan, that has a medical system like ours. People lose their homes and businesses if they become sick and fail to pay their medical premiums, and often even when they do pay, insurance companies refuse their claims and still they lose their homes and businesses. For almost a hundred years presidents have tried to fix this system, yet have failed. Our current president is trying to fix the system and give us a system similar to the rest of the first-world and I support this cause.

I am writing this note on while I am visiting Scottsdale Arizona because on the street corners all over Scottsdale there are protesters opposing this recent attempt to modify the medical system in this country. As a Canadian it is a strange thing indeed to see people on streets corners holding great banners condemning a medical system as communist and un-American. To me universal healthcare is a no-brainer. Opposition to universal healthcare is like opposing women’s suffrage, or public education, or national defense. It astounds me that such a wealthy country as the United States still has failed to guarantee one of the basic needs of human life. Just like it’s in the national interest to provide public education to its citizens, it’s in the national interest to provide healthcare. Something like healthcare should never be totally controlled by private enterprise, neither should education, social security, or national defense. There are just certain aspects of human society that need to be mandated by the government for the public good, and healthcare is one of those things. Until this country can come up with a system of medical care that covers all of its citizens in a reasonable way, I cannot consider this country fully first-world. It’s true we may have a good medical system, in the sense, it can deliver a high quality of technical service, but if that service is only available to individuals who can pay, and whole sections of society are left without any care, this is a failed system. In some ways this is still a third world country and the street protesters are perpetuating backwardness.


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