Socialized medicine, at a glance

Since 2016 there has been one long, continuous groan from cultural critics — across the political spectrum — who view the Presidency of Donald Trump as a dumbing down of the American public. On a more personal note, I have my own concerns, for my own mind. It’s so damned easy to debunk Trump that, speaking for myself, I fear intellectual sloth.

A recent example: the Trump tweet about the UK healthcare system. Brits took to the streets over their healthcare system, which Trump interpreted as an opposition to the UK system. In point of fact, activists were marching in support of their healthcare. (Trump’s tweet would be a little like someone glancing at a TV headline about the recent Women’s Marches in the U.S. and then assuming that the activists were marching in opposition to women. A simple mistake, for a simple mind.)

But the real point here is this: the UK system is far and away better than the United States. It isn’t even close. Last night’s Super Bowl was close. Healthcare is not. If healthcare were a Super Bowl clash between the UK and the United States, it would be a blowout, with team U.S.A. heading to the locker room at halftime with heads hanging down in utter humiliation. 

A 2014 survey of the healthcare systems of 11 developed countries found the US healthcare system to be the most expensive and worst-performing in terms of health access, efficiency, and equity.

Here’s how it breaks down, comparing 11 of the global powers:

2014 comparison:

Our for-profit system is so ridiculous — and so embarrassing, in a global context — that even the 1% are admitting it and taking pathetic measures to try to curb the extent to which U.S. consumers are being fleeced by corporate healthcare companies. Amazon, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announced they are seeking to create a company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent more on health care per capita($9,403), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.1%), than any other nation in 2014.

~ Wikipedia

The question, of course, for the American public is whether we are going to sit on our hands and wait for the benevolence of the 1%, or whether we will simply do what works, what the rest of the world has proven successful, and socialize healthcare. Then, you know, we’ll have a good healthcare system like the Brits.

Despite being among the top world economic powers, the US remains the sole industrialized nation in the world without universal health care coverage.

~ Wikipedia

To return to Trump’s tweet, a brief fact-check reveals that it’s American capitalism that yields the “really bad and non-personal medical care.” But what else would you expect from a system organized on a for-profit basis? In a for-profit industry, the goal is to provide the least amount of healthcare for the highest price. Sound familiar?

Certainly Trump and his billionaire buds get great healthcare, but only socialized medicine can deliver quality care to the general public while helping to keep costs down.

It kinda makes me regret the whole rebellion-against-King-George thing that took place all those years ago. Did we fight the American Revolution simply to enrich corporations? Is this the spirit of ’76, that we sniff around for the crumbs that fall from the table of the billionaire class?


Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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