Single payer health care is change that will inevitably come to the US

February 27, 2019

The US has a pedigree history when it comes to will.  Born out of a determination to implement a better system of governance than had been previously imposed by its colonial over-lord, the US subsequently brought its will and iron determination to any number of land-mark events.  So it was that slavery was overcome, Axis fascism defeated, boots put on the moon and the Cold War won.  When it wants to, the US can achieve pretty much anything.  But it needs the will to do it.

 

Consequently, the fact that the US presently languishes under a for-profit health-care system is very telling.  The desire among the American people for something very different, single-payer health care, is consistently high, gaining in popularity in just the last few years alone. [1] Yet the political will to implement such a system is not yet where it should be and frequently bumps heads with the vested interests and sizeable chunks of the conservative GOP.

 

The US is unique in that out of all the of the modern, industrialized countries of the West, it has no universal, single payer health-care system.  Single-payer varies from say the UK, to Australia to Germany, but essentially each of those systems shares the broad principle that a person’s financial prowess should be no determinant when it comes to the provision of health-care.

Never has the need for the US to overhaul its healthcare system been more pressing than now.  The US is in the grip of any number of health crises – obesity, gun violence and opioid use being three prime examples.

 

It is telling that in the last few years, American life expectancy has actually started to lower. [2]  Reactive as opposed to proactive, non-preventative treatment allowing for massively inflated pharmaceutical and insurance costs is not only utterly reprehensible, but costs the US billions each year through preventable sick days, deaths and related costs.

 

The conservative / GOP obsession with throwing around the word “socialism”, particularly so when it comes to single payer health care, is both alarming and laughable.  Whether they like it or not, the US has actually long relied on “socialist” systems.  Take for just one example, the vast, sprawling road network that allows the US economy to function the way that it does.  And those would be publicly owned, public maintained roads – funded by tax dollars for the benefit of the common good.  Funny how so many GOPers in D.C decry “socialism” and then drive back to their state on very non-privately-owned roads.

And as much as transport is in an integral part of any modern economy, so is the health of the workforce that tends to that economy.  Surely, you would think that the idea of having a healthier workforce, living longer, working longer and paying into the system longer, something that other Western countries benefit from courtesy of single-payer healthcare, would appeal to the GOP?  But no, when it comes to American healthcare, it’s business (of course it’s business) as usual.

 

The reality is, the US is more than capable of making the transition to single payer health-care, but for a lack of political will to do so.  After the Second World War, the UK made the transition from a myriad system of private healthcare to single-payer in the space of just three years.  And that was a UK that had physically and financially exhausted itself fighting the Axis powers for six years and was engaging in large-scale global decolonization.  However, what the UK did have at its disposal?  The political will to make it happen.

 

Conservatives and the GOP profess to love their country.  What then could be more patriotic than a system that provides for and looks after all Americans when it comes to healthcare, and doesn’t necessitate the need for half a million people to go medically bankrupt every year?  The US needs to radically recalibrate its “freedom to” choose what medical provider to be massively in debt to, to “freedom from” having to choose between the mortgage and having one’s husband having surgery.

 

Single-payer health-care is already an issue that resonates with the majority of Americans and will be a big issue come the 2020 elections.  Key progressive / Democratic candidates, like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker have all endorsed single payer Medicare-for-all. [3]

 

Single payer health care is change that will inevitably come to the US.  It is just a question of time and will power.

 

[1] https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/403248-poll-seventy-percent-of-americans-support-medicare-for-all

[2] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/american-life-expectancy-has-dropped-again-heres-why

[3] https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/375376-democrats-march-toward-single-payer-health-care

 

 

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