In the most recent Democratic Presidential Debate in New Hampshire, it was said and hardly heard when Candidate Dennis Kucinich screamed the most common sense yet most financially opposed medical plan, the single payer plan. Basically, an extension of Medicare to all Americans, it is a plan that would cut out the middle man, which is opposed by the sacred cows as Big Pharma, the AMA and insurance companies have effectively touted it as a death knell for quality medicine in America.
What they don't point out is that the death knell went in years ago as we are by far the worst quality medical providing nation of all industrialized nations. Yes, the best is available, but only to the rich but the real measure is the availability to all. On this the US loses in every category to countries like Costa Rica (population 3-million; avg. per capita income - $300/month) and Castro's Cuba (recently highlighted in Michael Moore's Sicko). The numbers are clear when by every measure America appears to be a third world nation.
We are 48th in life expectancy and the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies. A little embarrassing to those of us who still care about little things like children and living. Supposedly our constitution guarantees the "inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" ; however, it seems rather difficult to exercise these rights when you are dead.
Of course, many Americans have swallowed hook, line and sinker, the notion that insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical professional have a natural right to living like kings on the highest medical profits in the world. It's not hard to believe America falls for it after the billions that are tacked onto our medical care in the form of lobbying and advertising by the monster that our medical establishment has become.
Some facts to consider:
- Medicare spends a lower percentage on administration of medical care than any single provider in the world at close to 1%.
- A record 46.6 million Americans, including 8.3 million children, have no health insurance at all.
- If allowed to actually negotiate with drug providers they could cut drug costs by 48% just as the Veteran's administration does; a fact few realize as our congress pushed this through literally in the middle of the night as Big Pharma twisted arms and threatened political lives during a prolonged vote. That's right; the median price difference for the 20 drugs most frequently used by seniors is 48.2 percent.
Some relevant questions:
- If the US offered a free education to those who can perform, would there be any shortage of medical professionals?
- If the US, a country of 300-million people cut out the middle man could we not cut out the middle man and save that 30+% of profit that is tacked onto our medical costs and put that money back in our pockets?
- If we had a single payer i.e simply offering Medicare to all US citizens, couldn't we be at least as efficient as Cuba or Costa Rica?
- If we treated people before they got sick wouldn't we live longer - as "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"?
- Would we really miss any of the doctors, Pharma and insurance executives who might quit if we deprived them of guaranteed 6 figure incomes and replaced them with people driven by a love of helping people?
- Would either doctors or patients miss the current bureaucracy of processing medical insurance claims and the fear that some executive will say, "no" to your life?
- Would it somehow make us less American to get something back for the tax dollars we put in?