Last night I watched Fareed Zakaria’s fact based program on healthcare systems from around the world on CNN. He wrote the piece below in March that got little coverage but it bears reposting to get as many Americans reading it. So I urge you to spread this post. As Fareed says, “You can reason from principle but you also have to reason from facts and reality. We have 20 other countries in the world that do this. All of them are able to do it better and substantially cheaper than us. So to me it feels like the task is not to junk all this and say there is some utopia out there that’s never been tried in any actual human society rather to say look we have got a messy reality with the government and markets working together let’s fix it.”
It is no accident that the Right Wing specifically targets Europe for attack to instill fear that somehow the Affordable Care Act would make our healthcare system Europe like. Firstly, for the vast majority of Americans, if they knew the truth about access to healthcare in Canada or Europe in general, they would likely adopt it. Their outcomes are better. Their life expectancy is higher. There are no pre-existing condition restrictions. Everyone is covered (including foreigners in many instances). And no one gets bankrupted from being sick. As Fareed would attest, it is not a panacea. Every system has its problems; however they all work better for the vast majority of their citizens than ours.
Given that we spend so much more on healthcare with substandard results, Obamacare with much of the efficiencies rarely discussed will mitigate much. That said, going forward we must all work to improve the bill. Medicare for all is provably the most efficient option but for cultural reasons simply regulating our insurance companies may suffice in the short term. It still means we will be transferring our wealth to a few who have convinced Americans that private health insurance is efficient and moral. Do remember they simply pay a bill. For that we have been willing to give them 30% of our premiums that could otherwise provide better healthcare.
It is our job to continue engaging our family, friends, and neighbors to attain our ultimate goal, a humane healthcare system where all have access at an affordable price. GET BUSY MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
Health Insurance is for Everyone
Posted by Fareed Zakaria on March 19, 2012
Two years ago, Barack Obama signed into law the most comprehensive reform of American health care since Medicare. Most of its provisions haven’t been implemented yet. But the debate about it rages on at every level. Twenty-six states have filed legal challenges to it. And this month the Supreme Court will hear arguments about its constitutionality.
The centerpiece of the case against Obamacare is the requirement that everyone buy some kind of health insurance or face stiff penalties–the so-called individual mandate. It is a way of moving toward universal coverage without a government-run or single-payer system. It might surprise Americans to learn that another advanced industrial country, one with a totally private health care system, made precisely the same choice nearly 20 years ago: Switzerland. The lessons from Switzerland and other countries can’t resolve the constitutional issues, but they suggest the inevitability of some version of Obamacare.
Switzerland is not your typical European welfare-state society. It is extremely business-friendly and has always gone its own way, shunning the euro and charting its own course on health care. The country ranks higher than the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.
Twenty years ago, Switzerland had a system very similar to America’s–private insurers, private providers–with very similar problems. People didn’t buy insurance but ended up in emergency rooms, insurers screened out people with pre-existing conditions, and costs were rising fast. The country came to the conclusion that to make health care work, everyone had to buy insurance. So the Swiss passed an individual mandate and reformed their system along lines very similar to Obamacare. The reform law passed by referendum, narrowly. The result two decades later: quality of care remains very high, everyone has access, and costs have moderated. Switzerland spends 11% of its GDP on health care, compared with 17% in the U.S. Its 8 million people have health care that is not tied to their employers, they can choose among many plans, and they can switch plans every year. Overall satisfaction with the system is high.