The Most Rational Argument Against Health Care Reform
The United States is one of the most affluent countries in the world, with one of the highest standards of living anywhere. We have been, throughout most of our history, the envy of the rest of the industrialized world. We employ the latest technology in our daily lives and in many respects, we have the world at our fingertips.
In the world of health care, we have perhaps the best doctors and the most advanced medical technology in the world. Yet there are always people who are not satisfied with our success. Some people ask, why, according the World Health Organization, does the United States rank 37th in the world in overall health care? Why do we rank 45th in life expectancy and 29th in infant mortality?
They point to the fact that, in the United States, the biggest reason people file personal bankruptcy is overwhelming medical expenses from a life threatening illness, while in most other countries, nobody goes bankrupt due to medical expenses.
But I have to ask, Why do critics always blame America first? Why must they condemn America for having such limited access to health care? Who are they to tell us that we should have longer lives or less expensive health care? How dare they question our tradition of letting people die because it’s too costly to save them?
We have, arguably, the most profitable health care system in the world. Health insurance companies make hundreds of billions of dollars and pay their corporate executives $100 million salaries without blinking an eye. Pharmaceutical companies are raking in enormous profits by selling life-saving medications for hundreds of times what it costs to manufacture them.
How can anyone argue with that kind of success?
Make no mistake, health care is an industry. Every hospital, clinic, insurance company, and pharmaceutical company is a business in that industry. The purpose of every business is to maximize their profits. Period. It’s good business when your customers get well. If too many of your customers die, then that’s bad for business. So you see, it’s in their best interests to keep you alive and healthy, as long as it’s profitable.
Instead of criticizing America, maybe we should look at the dozens of countries that rank ahead of the United States in health care and ask, what are their priorities? Why do they have such a single minded focus – no an obsession – with affordable health care? Especially when you consider that the health care industries in those countries are nowhere near as profitable as the United States.
It may be true that America is the only major industrialized country that still allows sick people to die because they don’t have enough money. And yes, we’re about the only country where people have to hold bake sales to raise money so someone can have a kidney transplant. I’ll even admit that Americans spend far more money, per capita, on health care than any other country and get worse results. And I’ll grant you that Americans seldom have any choice in selecting what doctor they see or what hospital they go to because their insurance company makes those decisions for them. And finally, yes, it’s true that a system based on maximizing profits is probably the worst possible health care delivery system imaginable.
But, um, let’s see, where was I going with this again? Never mind. I got nothing.