Friday, September 24, 2010

Healthcare is a Right

In America, and in all First World countries, the people have demanded that a few universal human rights be guaranteed by the government of the various societies in which they live.  These basic human rights include: the right to afford food and water, the right to afford shelter, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to vote.  In many advanced societies the right to health care services are also provided to everyone in their society, but in the United States of America, it is still a debatable topic.

In the last few hundred years, villages adapted to famines and plagues by banding together and providing food, water and shelter to fellow villagers who found themselves without it.  Thousands of years ago, medicine men and women would cure the sick and injured for a small fee or donation to their temple.  However, these times are long gone, and the days of villages, subsistence agriculture, and indentured servitude, are now over.  This is now the era of the mega corporations.  Human beings require food, water, and shelter from corporate producers to survive in the modern technocratic world they find themselves in.  Modernist claim our new advanced society has done away with the old inefficient ideas of microeconomic exchanges, and we should now have faith and rely on the more organized macroeconomic processes to propel our society forward.  If this is the case, then isn't it now the obligation of our new efficient macroeconomic society to take up the obligations the old society granted, and adapt to the new conditions our human culture is faced with?

In recent years the United States, and many other countries, experienced a depression in the economic activity both nationally and internationally.  This had a revealing trickle down economic effect that caused many millions of people to suffer loss of income, loss of employment, loss of homes, loss of spouses and custody, and many other nightmare level psychological traumas.  Some people who had a mortgage, large family, and multiple cars, found themselves homeless living in cars, divorced, and using welfare and food stamps to survive.  It now seems that some markets are improving, however, many of the people who lost income or assets have already decided to downgrade their health insurance coverage, or give it up completely.  What happens to these uninsured people if they become deathly ill?

Most emergency hospitals would admit and treat anyone who arrived at their facility, but the fees for their services are usually ten times the amount, or more, than a general physician would charge.  An uninsured person could easily bankrupt themselves if an expensive operation is required, or on going treatment or medication is required for them to live.  If these uninsured people would have been able to be treated for their condition by a general physician prior to them being forced to go to a emergency hospital, the cost would have been much more affordable.  No matter what the cost of their treatment, if they can not pay the bill, then the cost will need to be paid by someone.  Hospitals must balance their books just like every other business, and when they incur a loss it is passed on to the consumers who are able to pay their bills.  In other words, the people who have insurance will pay more on average due to these uninsured people being treated.  This is a basic way of explaining a complex problem, but even the conservative and thrifty minded people who are typically against public health insurance policy, and raising taxes, must admit that society pays for the treatment of the uninsured one way or another.  If we don't nationalize healthcare, the cost is higher than if everyone shared the expense equally through a federal tax.  Until hospitals begin to kick people out of their emergency rooms for lack of funds, we must adapt to this growing problem of escalating health costs that is making health insurance unaffordable.

The reason food, water, and shelter are basic human rights is simply because they allow us to live.  Without food we starve, and without water we dehydrate and die.  Shelter protects our skin and immune system from exposure to lethal elements.  So it would follow, that health care services are also mandatory if we are to survive.  If someone had to choose between loosing their car and seeing a doctor about a pain in their chest, I think they would choose to keep their car and deal with the pains, especially if it was their only means of transportation to work and stores.  If someone had to choose between loosing their house, and possibly their family and getting an operation, some might choose to live with their medical condition as is.  These are choices that Americans are being forced to make everyday as a result of medical insurance being unaffordable and cost of living being so high.  Do people die as a result of making these choices, you bet.  People will continue to perish due to this lack of affordable healthcare, and it must change.  This is why I believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege.

The most frequent argument against national healthcare in the United States is the cost.  In fact, the Republican message machine uses this angle to spin the topic constantly.  This argument is also used against pro-immigration debaters, when Republicans claim that all an illegal immigrant has to do is jump the border to get free room and board, and free health care at US taxpayer expense.

Either a new tax must be paid by Americans, or the existing federal programs need to be curtailed to accommodate it.  If our society in America can afford a 685 billion dollar budget to fund a military empire ten times larger than the next country can afford, billions of dollars of what they call "aid" to countries in other parts of the world we want to convince be our political allys, and also provide healthcare to policy makers who have failed to provide the benefits they enjoy to their constituents, then why can't all of these federal programs be decreased a percentage to pay for national healthcare?  The problem most likely is that corporate lobbyist from the military, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies, have such a strong influence in Washington D.C..

The policy makers the lobbyist meet with are obviously concerned about their next election term lacking capital the big pharma and various insurance industries can supply.  Over half of the time spent by Congressional representatives is spent raising money for their next election.  Even if we could get through to their hearts, and make them feel compassion for the less affluent people who can not afford health insurance, their mind would be focused on the money they need for reelection. As a result, it would seem obvious to many of these policy makers that they would be making a big mistake to decide to vote with their heart, instead of their mind.  There are obvious psychological dynamics at work for both the public and the policy makers. The consequence of this apathetic attitude many political representatives have taken is that millions of Americans who feel they need healthcare reform now, will be compelled to vote them out of office next election season. The policy makers react to what they are told by corporate lobbyists, and the public react to what they see happen to themselves, and their loved ones. I wonder if that is ever considered by these shallow minded policy makers that think in the short term when it comes to campaign finances, and ignore the long term consequences of lives being lost.