I will start by saying that I don't think government-run health care is the ideal. But that's how a lot of my political ideals have developed... there's the ideal, and there's the thing we can actually accomplish as a society full of imperfect people. Honestly, if we were trying for the ideal, we'd be trying for the United Order right now. I think we all understand that any philosophies put forward by political pundits or experts or anybody at all, aren't going to be perfect. They're all philosophies of men. Let's not mingle them with scripture, and let's go ahead and be realistic.
The problems with privately owned health-insurance and pharmaceutical companies:
Their goal is mainly to get profit. An insurance company wants to make money. So they will minimize their risk and maximize their price. Now, you may argue with me... you know kindhearted CEOs who really, truly, do want to help people have access to the healthcare they need and you know insurance agents with hearts of gold. But the thing is, the majority of the healthcare industry right now is run like a Business. So therefore, profits are what they seek. That's what any institution that participates in our Caplitalist system/economy sees as the desired outcome--profit.
The problem with that?
Healthcare is vital. To everyone. It's not a commodity that one can easily bargain. If your son needs a kidney, you're not going to bargain with the healthcare industry. You're going to pay what you need to keep your son alive. You're going to go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to keep your son alive. So with healthcare, the usual model of demand/supply does not work. Everyone needs healthcare; nobody can really "opt out" or decide that commodity is something they can "live without." so they've got us.
They can charge anything and we'll pay it.
If we can pay it. There are some of us who can't... who don't even have the option of a new kidney for their son, because they literally can't even afford food.
So the way I see it is: Health care isn't a commodity, to be bought and sold and bargained for and prioritized like other things. It's a need. Like food. Like police protection. Like a fair trial in a courtroom. Like a chance at an education.
In other words (OK, I can already see some of you wagging your fingers at me...) Healthcare is not a commodity, it is a Right.
I truly believe that.
It's actually not all that dissimilar from the right of police protection. Police protection keeps people safe. It makes sure that people who rob or assault or cause problems for you, interfering with your right of liberty and pursuit of happiness, get punished, and that you get some of what you lost restored to you, and that overall, society can be protected from those that would prey on those around them.
Health Care keeps people well. It makes sure that everyone has a chance at medicine and treatment for diseases that sometimes, yes, they bring on themselves, but sometimes are pure misfortune, or even the result of an impoverished background/lifestyle. Would you deny healthcare to anyone who is dying from cancer? Would you actually walk up to her and tell her that because she didn't make enough money to pay for insurance, she deserved her situation? What about her kids?
I'm sorry. But. I think Health Care is a right.
Which means that all those people you've talked to in Canada and England and Europe who'd rather come here for healthcare, because they don't want to wait in lines, and they want to choose a more expensive treatment, and they want to be higher up on the transplant list... are arguing for something a bit immoral. In their country, everyone gets a shot at the healthcare they need, and so prices need to be kept low, and lines are long. Yes, that is frustrating. Yes, it might mean that *your* kid dies, waiting for a transplant, rather than the one living in the impoverished area of your neighborhood. And I get that none of us want to suffer, none of us want to feel out of control, all of us want to *choose*, but the thing is.... that privilege we middle/upper middle/upperclass people have in America, to *choose*, to be treated *right now*, comes literally at the expense of millions of others who are excluded from the system entirely, unable to gain access to sometimes even the most basic level of preventative care.
You want to be able to choose a ceramic rather than an amalgam filling at the dentist. Fine. What about the kid in Florida who didn't go see the dentist because he couldn't afford the cost of any filling or even an appointment, who then died of an abscess that infected his brain?
I'm sorry. I know not everyone will see it in such stark terms, but I can't help but feel that all those arguments made about why Canadian or English health care is substandard, are arguments we need to look at more closely... when an additional 20 million people are in line, yes you're going to wait longer. When everyone gets a chance at access to healthcare, some of the options, the more expensive options, are not going to be on the table.
But honestly? Give me the amalgam filling, and the six month wait, because I cannot in good conscience enjoy the quick, expensive healthcare I currently have access to at the expense of the woman down the street who hasn't made a prenatal appointment yet because she can't afford it. (You're going to immediately argue that she does, in fact, have access to Medicaid. Well, you just made my argument for me. :)
We spend vastly more, in America, on healthcare, compared to countries that have single-payer systems. You know why? Because healthcare is a right, and none of us can decide to bargain. So, put that bargaining power directly in the hands of private agencies, of coroporations, and the costs are going to be sky-high. People will pay anything. And so we pay.... everything.