Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Is It Really a Mystery Why the U.S. Health Care is Rated the Worst in the Developed World?

"If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from the problem." 

-Dr. Amos Wilson

Having mentioned numerous times that the issue of healthcare has long been one of the two biggest issues that I feel the United States is failing miserably in (the other being environmental issues, particularly climate change), especially when compared with the rest of the industrialized world, it is a source of frustration to me that tens of millions of Americans keep allowing themselves to be manipulated into believing arguments that go against their own best interests.

When President Obama was first elected to the White House, he came in with a wave of popularity and enthusiasm. One of the biggest campaign promises that he made was to modernize the healthcare system, and make it fair. It was called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but came to be popularly known as Obamacare. It is telling that about the political ignorance and seeming indifference to key issues by Americans that many people did not know the difference, and that the ACA was more popular than Obamacare was, even though they were in fact one and the same. It goes to show the importance in a name.

The lack of popularity of Obamacare was largely the product of Republican opponents of the Obama White House. Republicans have always been masters of this kind of manipulation. Case in point, the "Clean Skies Act" which actually allowed more, not less, pollution. Or the PATRIOT Act, which was anything but patriotic. Democrats may be pretty good at this kind of hypocrisy, but they simply cannot touch Republicans.

And so, is it really surprising that Republicans called their recently proposed replacement of Obamacare the "World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017?" Indeed, Republicans have been infamous for their staggering levels of hypocrisy in the past, but they might really just have outdone themselves this time around! That seems tom have been the spirit of Donald Trump, who famously claims that he is "great" and "the best" at anything and everything, rubbing off on his party.

It was not long ago, less than three years ago, that the U.S. healthcare system was rated the worst healthcare system of any developed nation in the world. The major problems? It is far and away the most expensive, and the worst performing, according to the Commonwealth Fund (see links below). Indeed, many Americans have grown familiar with the statistic that as a nation, we pay more for our health literally on average than any other nation in the world. Yet, our healthcare system is rightly regarded as a failure, and judged by the tens of millions that are left entirely uninsured, as well as those who have been overpaying yet under served.

Obamacare was not going to fix all of those problems, although at least it was a step in the right direction. What the country needs is a single-payer system, like the one that exists in pretty much every other industrialized nation. 

But instead of accepting this as a first step, and then working to improve upon it, the Republican party, which stood in direct opposition to literally everything that President Obama wanted and stood for, were predictably opposed to it.

With Republicans hell bent on getting rid of Obamacare - "repeal and replace" - the recent news that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the House Republican plan for a healthcare system to serve as the replacement would throw 14 million people off of healthcare as soon as next year was not welcome. Moreover, it was further estimated that 2 million people would lose their health insurance by 2026.  

Of course, proponents of the bill, including the Trump administration, blasted the report that the CBO came out with. Sean Spicer and other prominent Republicans claimed that those figures were greatly exaggerated, if not outright fabrications.

However, the numbers are being taken seriously by many, including moderate Republicans, especially those from states such as Arkansas, where Obamacare allowed many in that state to actually acquire healthcare. And it is being taken seriously by Democrats, who have suggested that the only real option left for this disgraceful bill is for Republicans to withdraw it.

Yet, even if they do this, you can bet that Republicans will feel obligated to keep their word and dismantle Obamacare. It's been their raison d'être for a very long time now, and you had better believe that they will keep trying, even if this one, what they call the "World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017," fails and they have to let it go.

The problem is that Americans keep electing clowns like this, who are in the pay of the healthcare industry and/or major pharmaceuticals, and who advocate a system that has placed the United States in the unenviable position of having a healthcare system that ha long been condemned and viewed largely as a failure by most of the world. The fact that healthcare is such a hotly contentious issue in every single election in memory should confirm to most Americans that there is a huge problem here, yet they keep falling for the same old arguments, which are craftily orchestrated by think tanks and then advocated by self-serving politicians who put themselves and their bank accounts ahead of what is best for the country, and for the people they represent. 

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am no fan of either major party. However, the level of blatant hypocrisy and cynicism displayed by Republicans has been particularly egrigious for decades now, and this will continue to be the case until Americans finally wise up and hold them accountable. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. After all, this is the country that just voted in Donald Trump, and gave Republicans huge victories across the board, giving them greater representation than they have enjoyed since 1928. 

Does anyone remember what happened in 1929? 

So, why is the American healthcare system the very worst in the developed world?

Look no further than the greed of those who stand to benefit the most by preserving the current system, despite it's glaring imperfections. Namely, that would be the big pharmaceutical firms, major healthcare providers, and the politicians who receive special compensation from these parties.

U.S. Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing by Olga Khazan, June 16, 2014

U.S. Health Care Ranked Worst in the Developed World Melissa Hellmann Jun 17, 2014

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