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Sick to Think of It

Nov 30, 2008
Our employer-based health insurance (in healthy New Hampshire) has gone up over 40 percent in three years, roughly four times the increase in the Consumer Price Index.1 At that cost—about twice what the rest of the civilized world pays—we receive medical care that is significantly, demonstrably, shamefully inferior.2 We rank 26th in child mortality. Our maternal death rate is also high, and rising.3 We lag behind 16 other countries in longevity.4 America’s poor health, and poorer health care, cost us billions in lost productivity every year.

The wealthiest nation in the world—until recently, at any rate—owes itself an obligation to remove health care from the rough-and-tumble of the marketplace, where supply and demand and the profit motive reign supreme, at the expense of high-quality care. There are enough national health care systems in the world now that we can study them all and pick and choose the best features of each in crafting our own. To maintain the status quo, even with a tweak here and a tuck there, is indefensible, given the cost and the inferior product our health care system provides.

Barack Obama never mentioned single-payer, federally managed health care in his campaign. We hope it was because he knew it would lose him much-needed dollars from the insurance industry and, possibly, a few thousand votes. But single-payer, federally managed health care is the only sensible solution, it is what the people want, and it will be a defining test of Obama’s presidency for him to move Congress toward this long overdue goal in his first term.

The New America Foundation has given us a grim glance at the future in their report, The Cost of Doing Nothing. If you think things are bad today, wait a very few years, less than a decade, when half of us will be spending 45 to 60 percent of our income just for health insurance and related deductibles. It makes you sick to think of it.

The 21st century will witness a revolution in medical care. For the sake of equity and economy, for the sake of sanity and American productivity, we must stop funding it with a 19th century model.
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1 Consumer Price Index, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (Accessed November 25, 2008)
2 Click here to display the health-related items on All Together Now, for this and other pertinent statistics.
3 Maternal Mortality Rate in U.S. Highest in Decades, Experts Say, from Medical News Today, August 29, 2007 (Accessed November 25, 2008)
4 Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy for Selected Countries, 2007, from Infoplease (Accessed November 25, 2008)
tags: Health

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