Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Reality of Health Care: A Huge Disparity in Need


A MAJOR MYTH, One promoted by the current administration, employers and insurance companies: the American health care problem could be solved if we could convince Americans to take more personal responsibility for maintaining healthier lifestyles and giving them a greater freedom of choice in purchasing health insurance.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT REALITY OF HEALTH CARE is depicted by the associated diagram. The second panel states a startling fact: it takes only 5 cents of the health care dollar to pay for the health care of the lowest-cost 50 percent of the population, and notice that the highest-cost 1 percent requires 22 cents of the health care dollar. For that 1 percent, the per-person cost now exceeds $39,000 per year.

This diagram tells us that there is no way the heaviest users of health care can pay for that health care. Therefore, in a responsible society the payment for health care must be a societal, not an individual, responsibility. The only way we can exercise that responsibility is to establish a system of single-payer universal health care. We must get the for-profit health insurance industry out of the loop, as is called for by H.R. 676, the "United States National Insurance Act."

Mayors Back Universal Health Care

Yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unaninously adopted a resolution in support of the "United States National Health Insurance Act," H.R. 676. Known also as the "Improved and Expanded Medicare for All Act," H. R. 676 is sponsored by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and 90 members of Congress.

This is an excellent bill that, unlike the proposals of Senators Obama and McCain, actually addresses health care and guarantees everyone in the country affordable health care by forcing the highly profitable private health insurance industry out of the loop. That is a necessary action if the country is to have an effective health care system like that of all other modern countries.

The backing of HR 676 by the nation's mayors is highly significant because the mayors, far more so than most elected officials, are closer to the people and more free of pressure from the pressures of health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry lobbying efforts that hope to maintain the staus quo. The fact that the mayors are backing HR 676 indicates that the public is increasingly in favor of universal health care. We may be closer to an effective universal health care system than many have thought possible.