Sunday, March 01, 2009

We need Universal Health Care

The NY Times today has an article today which does a pretty good job of explaining why we need Universal Health Care. I have been advocating for this for nearly 20 years.

The fact is that we spend about 17 percent of GDP on health care in this country. The next closest country is France which spends about 11% of GDP on health care. By objective standards such as length of life, rates of infant mortality, etc. we actually have a lower standard than most industrialized countries. Here is a Nobel Prize winning economist with the facts.

It is true that at the top levels we have the most advanced health care, especially here in Boston. But, that health care is not accessible by all Americans.

America, especially since the Reagan years, has become a country of the rich versus the poor with the middle class being squeezed by both sides. We need to make a decision about whether we are going to support this unequal distribution of wealth where the rich get the vast majority of the rewards, or if we want to spread out the wealth. I am firmly on the side of the latter.

I was racing motorcycles professionally down in New Zealand in the 1990's when I had a had a crash in a Superbike race and broke my foot. I (and 3 other racers) were hauled off to the hospital where a very nice doctor lectured me on how dangerous it was to race motorcycles, before taking x-rays, putting me in a cast, giving me a crutch and telling me how to take care of myself, along with copies of the X-rays.
Cost: $ 0. No bureaucracy, no insurance companies, no M.B.A.'s skimming off the top.

Essentially we are paying 50% more for a product which doesn't provide the same value. If a General Motors car that was rated lower than a Toyota was selling for $17,000 and the Toyota was selling for $12,000 who in their right mind would by the General Motors product? In the auto industry where capitalism has spoken, the Toyota product which is more expensive than the GM product has been selling better.
We need to apply this same common sense to the health care industry.

I believe our lack of univeral health care is stifling innovation in this country. There are many people here with great ideas, or a great work ethic who want to go out and start their own business but are hesitant to leave their jobs because of fears of health care costs, especially women and people with families. We need to encourage people to use all of their talents and not be held back for fear of being able to see a doctor or be cared for.

We need to stop having a health care policy that is crafted by pharmaceutical giants and HMO's, and one that is devised to spend our dollars more wisely. We need to keep a system that rewards innovation and striving to be the best, while providing a safety net for all.

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