Universal Health Care in the U.S.

By Clete Delvaux, Green Bay

Here are some sobering thoughts gathered from the introduction of T. R. Reid’s 2009 book The Healing of America.

“Government and academic studies report that more than 20,000 die in the prime of life each year from medical problems that could be treated, because they can’t afford to see a doctor…. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country either.” Now you might say that 2009 was more than ten years ago. Do you think things have changed in 2020? Not on your life!

Another source says that in the United States system of health care, 160 million or roughly half the population receives their medical insurance through their job. The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in a tidal wave of job layoffs which could mean that up to 43 million workers could lose their health insurance. That won’t happen in any other developed country either, for they all have some form of universal health insurance. Reid in his ensuing chapters looks at the health care systems of these other developed countries. They all differ in what they offer their citizens, but every citizen is guaranteed health care.

Reid continues, “Efforts to change the [U.S. health] system tend to be derailed by arguments about ‘big government’ or ‘free enterprise’ or ‘socialism.’” Another factor I see in the run-up to this year’s presidential election is cost. Even Democrat presidential contender Joe Biden says that we cannot afford a universal health system! How is it that the acclaimed richest country in the world cannot afford to provide universal health care for its citizens when the other developed countries on earth do provide medical care for any one of its citizens who gets sick?

The answer is that the other developed countries have answered a basic moral question: Should they guarantee medical treatment to everyone who needs it? Do their citizens have a right to health care? The U.S. has so far ignored this moral question. It’s time for the U.S. to come down on the side of health care for all its citizens.