Sunday, April 16, 2006

$100 billion a year justifies how much suffering?

There was a show on NPR about the proposed health care funding plan in Massachusetts. The person from MA was asked why they did not propose a single-payer health care system. He pointed out that the health insurance industry made $100 billion dollars last year. That is $100,000,000,000,000.00 He explained that if anybody wanted to propose a solution to our nation's health care problem that did not include the medical insurance industry, they would have a hard time of it.

I do not think I had ever heard it put so simply.

The question that I have is this. If our current health care system benefits a very small precentage of the US, probably less than 2%, by giving them $100 billion a year, and leaves 30 - 40% of the nation with inadequate health care, causing great personal pain and suffering and causing many hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year, is that ok?

Obviously it is. That is what we have. Every year, people suffer pain and die early because they do not have access to health care. We seem to think that this is acceptable.

It seems to me, though, that there is some point at which the pain suffered by millions of people begins to counterbalance the profit motive of a few. So, when might that be?

If 2/3 of the US had inadequate health care, and 2% was getting $100 billion a year, would that be too many people without health care? I think it may not be enough. Complicating the equation is this. We may end up with 2/3 of the US not having health care and $200 or $300 billion going to that same 2%. Would the price of health care over the last 20 years suggest anything different?

What if 90% of the US had inadequate health care? Would that be acceptable?

It is hard to say. We accept so much deceit from our leaders. We have massive numbers of people with no access to medical care and our president proposes medical tort reform. It boggles the mind. It is hard to know how to approach these questions rationally. Or does rational thought have anything to do with the question?


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