I’m just going to come right out and say it: We need to socialize our health care system in the United States.
Call it single-payer, call it a public option, call it a Medicare buy-in, call it whatever you want, just socialize it so we can move on. (Yes, I hear the political heads exploding.)
I understand. I’ve used the dreaded S-word. Fortunately, I just finished a blog about the dogmatic shroud surrounding socialism and I believe you’ll find it less scary (and less un-American) than you think.
We already know detractors will slather the idea in terrifying imagery. They’ll try to make it seem like you’ll have to go to some kind of DMV for your chemotherapy. This is the United States of America. I have no doubt that if we make it a priority to have the most effective and efficient socialized healthcare system the world has ever seen we could get it done. We did it with our socialized military. You can’t argue with success.
I look at it like this: human life is more important than profit. If it is impossible to treat every sick person and still make money then the private sector should not be tasked with providing care.
The naysayers will nevertheless complain about all of the medical advancements our private healthcare system has made. They tend to leave out the fact that the majority of those advancements were actually made with public, taxpayer-funded grants, and many of those to public, taxpayer-funded universities.
They’ll lament that we’re turning into France or some other socialist state. (I’d counter that with the story of my French expatriate friend Annie who had her first child in France. The child was premature and there was a complication with the birth. Annie was hospitalized for three days. Her daughter for a week. There was no bill.) The fact is, medical costs are one of the main factors behind most bankruptcy filings in America. According to a 2007 study by The American Journal of Medicine, getting sick was a factor in 62% of personal bankruptcies. Even worse, 75% of all those filing for personal bankruptcy actually had some kind of medical insurance. If it looks like failure and smells like failure…
The critics will say it’s unconstitutional and that the Founding Fathers never intended for us to have universal healthcare. I would begin by doubting their clairvoyance, then follow up with the argument that in the days of the Founding Fathers a doctor engaged in practices like applying leeches, bloodletting, and having the patient hold boiled stones. Modern medicine can be the difference between life, death, and the quality of both. It has become a foundational element of the human experience. The Founding Fathers could no more predict its advent than they could the internet.
Constitutionally, I consider a socialized healthcare system both a promotion of the general welfare and a Fifth Amendment right. Anyone who denies a person access to healthcare is denying them their Right to Life without due process. It is a somewhat broad interpretation, but it doesn’t go against the spirit of the Constitution any more than it does to interpret the inclusion of an Air Force into our military. Who knew there would be airplanes?
If that’s not enough for the bellyachers, then I say let’s convene a Constitutional convention and decide–once and for all–whether or not there should be a Constitutionally protected right to see a doctor. If almost 3/4 of the population at least want a social health care option–and according to multiple polls they do–our representative government should have a clear mandate. At the very least, all sides will have a chance to be heard. A Constitutional amendment could have the added bonus of disincentivizing the rampant profiteering that drives up medical costs (America has the highest prescription drug prices in the world).
So I say again, socialize healthcare. Do it and be done with the entire argument. In a nutshell.
(Exploding head image from http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2010/02/24/videos-of-heads-exploding-in-movies/ Founding Fathers image from: http://www.foundersofamerica.com/Founders_of_America_Posters.htm Bankruptcy image from: http://katzlawflorida.com/bankruptcy-law/ Doctors support public option image from: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/us-doctors-support-public-option)