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."

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