An issue that has come up a lot recently is healthcare. Republicans have attempted and failed multiple times now to take away healthcare from millions. Knowing the impact of healthcare on my life and the lives of people I love, this is very disturbing to me.
However, the argument I’d like to address at the moment is the idea that getting everyone covered is impossible. Politicians often argue that it would cost too much and taxes would become too high. They also scare constituents with terms like “socialized medicine” or “nanny state.”
First, I would like to respond to the claim that universal healthcare constitutes “socialized medicine.” I’m going to express an unpopular opinion here and say, “Yeah, it kind of is… but so what?” The secret is—we already have government-run healthcare. It’s called Medicare. And the VA. And Medicaid. One option endorsed by Bernie Sanders and other progressives is “Medicare for All”.
Capitalism works very well for most industries. But the difference with healthcare is that it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity—so insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals can essentially charge whatever they want. In fact, hospitals in the past have used a “Charge Master,” which assigns arbitrary high prices to things like aspirin (Time magazine). The price of Epi-Pens has also gone up recently. It’s not exactly like people with a life-threatening medical problem have the time to shop around for the cheapest option. And some people can't afford even the cheapest option.
In most other developed countries, healthcare is guaranteed to all citizens—and they spend less per capita than the United States. In Germany, they implemented universal healthcare without really giving up the free market. People pay into one of about 300 different “sickness funds,” which are insurance companies required to be non-profit. Therefore, there are still choices available, unlike the horror stories told by politicians.
If people didn’t have to pay the high premiums currently charged by many insurance companies, they could afford to pay taxes that were a bit higher. Also, people would not wait until they were in a crisis to see a doctor, so the amount we spent on healthcare overall would go down. Finally, America spends more on its military than any other country, including the manufacturing of tanks that never even get used.
But it’s not only economic concerns that should be considered. It’s the moral responsibility of human beings to help each other when it is possible—for example, by paying into an insurance plan when you don’t really need complex medical care, so there’s enough money for the very sick people.
Healthcare is not a privilege, but a right that should be guaranteed to all. After all, isn’t healthcare necessary to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?