The Basic Moral Justification for Universal Healthcare.
Healthcare is a fundamental right for all human beings. In societies that can afford universal healthcare like most in the industrialized world including the US it is criminal for healthcare not to be accessible to all citizens. In fact it is a crime in the United States of America for an ER to not treat you if you are sick or injured. So even in this country universal healthcare is duly recognized as a right though it is a basic right that is far from adequately administered. This basic but unfulfilled right would be analogous to a right to a fair trial and a defense attorney but even though you cannot afford it you are billed for your defense attorney anyway instead of having a public defender. So any conservative who says healthcare is not a right for all are simply wrong.
The reason healthcare is a right is clearly stated in the preamble of the Constitution which would be called a “mission statement” or “vision statement” today so it guides the whole purpose of our nation.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
There is simply not one thing that promotes the “general Welfare” more directly than proper access to healthcare in this country.
Many people, especially conservatives, confuse rights with something being free. Most rights in the Constitution have a price that is a shared responsiblity for all Americans. Our taxes and fees pay for national defense, police, firefighters, prosecuters, public defenders, prisons, teachers, schools, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Social Security, etc etc. All these institutions have a price and are a shared sacrifice paid by all Americans.
The fact that healthcare is a right holds up to legal precedent as well. Every time a family for religious or personal reasons refuses treatment for a minor in a life threatening case the courts swoop in and side with the fact that healthcare is a fundamental right. No minor is every denied treatment because of a parent’s beliefs. Just recently a Minnesota judge ordered the family of a 13 year old boy to continue chemotherapy for treatment of his Hodgkin’s Disease despite the parents religious convictions.
The moral imperative for universal access to healthcare in this country should be the driving force in securing healthcare reform. Every citizen in the United States should feel the disgrace that we are the richest country in the world and we are the only industrialized country in the world that can afford access to healthcare for all it’s citizens that does not deliver that access. Instead or holding our heads in shame and rectifying a grave injustice tens of millions of Americans still ignore the moral imperative because they have theirs and they do not care about the 50,000,000 plus million Americans that do not have access to healthcare often enough or when they do have access it is too late.
Healthcare is a Right in the UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
* (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of
his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in
circumstances beyond his control.
* (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or
out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”
The Fundamental Moral Lapses in Our Private Healthcare System
Access to Healthcare is a fundamental right but there is no right in the Constitution for companies to make profits. A profit based healthcare insurance system is patently insane. Private healthcare insurers are just middlemen and offer little to the system. A case can be made that drug companies, medical supply companies and even most other provider elements in the system are incentivized to create innovative products based on profit motive. However there simply is no justification for the corporations that simply take your money in premiums and outlay them to providers to make profits and have exorbitant overheads on average over 30% when combined. This outrageous deal for the American people is nothing short of blood money and this profit motive fundamentally creates the problems we experience today in our healthcare system. “Innovation” in the healthcare insurance industry is simply developing justifications for not paying claims, denying coverage, dropping clients and escalating costs.
These profits and overhead expenses for healthcare insurance corporations that basically take their clients money and hand it to providers are even more obscene when you examine the salaries of the highest paid CEOs in 2007.
United Health, William McGuire $342 mil
Aetna, John Rowe $57.8 mil
Amgen, Kevin Sharer, $59.5 mil
Cigna, Edward Hanway, $62.8 mil
It is utterly mind bogling to imagine how many thousands and thousands of claims were not paid just pay these unconscionable salaries.
Over 50,000,000 people in this country are uninsured which means 50,000,000 Americans have extremely limited access to our healthcare system. Healthcare is simply too expensive for Americans to afford on their own if any major illness or injury befalls an uninsured American. Access is the root of all our embarissing healthcare ratings, especially within the industrialized nations.
We are ranked a lowly 37th by the World Health Organization for overal quality of healthcare despite conservatives who are still in denial and still spout that we have the “best healthcare system in the world”. For people that have access to our healthcare system this very well may be true but statistics indicate that because too many Americans do not have access to our vaunted healthcare system it simply is not true.
While conservatives are in denial we have the worst access to healthcare of any industrialized nation on the planet. Out of 21 industrialized nations surveyed the United States has the highest preventable death rate.
If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.
Researchers Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tracked deaths that they deemed could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, and ranked nations on how they did.
They called such deaths an important way to gauge the performance of a country’s health care system.
Nolte said the large number of Americans who lack any type of health insurance — about 47 million people in a country of about 300 million, according to U.S. government estimates — probably was a key factor in the po or showing of the United States compared to other industrialized nations in the study.
“I wouldn’t say it (the last-place ranking) is a condemnation, because I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access. But if you don’t, I think that’s the main problem, isn’t it?” Nolte said in a telephone interview.”
The next installment of this series will focus on the cost argument but it is also part of the moral issue for one main reason. Having the highest healthcare costs in the world has already bankrupted tens of millions of Americans and will bankrupt the nation if we do not bend the curve which is a popular phrase these days. Bankruptcy statistics related to the healthcare industry speak volumes why outrageous costs are a moral issue as well, 62% of bankruptcies are attributable to medical bills and 75% of all bankruptcies have medical bills included in them. The final indictment of our private healthcare insurance system regarding costs is the fact that 78% of filers had health insurance.
Another conservative myth is that foreign nationals come to this country for heathcare. Like usual they site anecdotal evidence but the reality is far different. Millions of Americans are now going abroad for healthcare coverage. Ironically private US healthcare has set up healthcare plans to outsource medical treatments to Mexico to save costs.
Major U.S. health-care players are jumping on the train, including BlueShield of California. Its “Access Baja” health plan caters to Americans and Mexicans wanting to get medical care in northern Mexico. BridgeHealth International, based in Denver, also has an overseas network.”…
…”An estimated 6 million Americans are traveling each year to such countries as India, Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand in search of less-expensive treatments for simple and complex procedures. Even France and Belgium tend to be cheaper than the United States.”
What the Moral Breakdown in Our Healthcare System Doth Wrought
- Your private healthcare coverage can be dropped at anytime. There are some safeguards in some states but it is far from universal.
- When you get a major illness private insurance often drops your healthcare coverage, especially when you have individual coverage.
- When you lose your job you lose your private healthcare after COBRA is over. Some states extend COBRA but many do not.
- When you change jobs you need to change your healthcare insurance plan and your employer can change you plan at any time.
- Even if you have private healthcare coverage they refuse coverage and do not reimburse you. This fact is a legendary truism in our current system.
- You often cannot get private healthcare coverage if you have a preexisting condition. Even if you get coverage they will not cover preexisting conditions.
Healthcare Universally Accessible in the Industrialized World Except in the United States
The most ironic fact is that our tax dollars pay for universal healthcare in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not optimum universal healthcare obviously but Iraq and Afghanistan citizens can go to the ER or clinics and get medical treatment just like Americans do however they are not handed the bill we are.