October 20, 2009


Below are excerpts from messages my brother or I have written:

By it’s very definition, capitalism is an economic system based on open competition. Then why do individual healthcare companies control the majority of the market within a given state? Are these companies that successful or are they monopolies, exempt from anti-trust legislation? In Alabama, for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield own 83% of the market. I like to believe that offering a public healthcare option would both force health insurance companies to compete and be innovative.

Moreover, the lauded benchmark of capitalism—efficiency – is dangerously at odds with human welfare within the insurance industry. They make profit when you don’t get treatment. The inherent conflict of interest in this begs the question whether health makes sense as a for-profit industry at all. It’s like having the fox guard the henhouse.

I think that opposition to offering the option of health care to all Americans stems from two main sources: an unfounded fear of socialism and an esurient disregard to the health and well-being of others.

What makes more sense is socializing institutions that are by their nature inefficient or whose driving principle is at odds with capitalism. This idea of a social market economy has been practiced since roughly the 1950s in Europe and to marvelous effect, particularly with health care ... The U.S. spends 16% of its GDP on health, which amounts to $2.2 trillion. This is more than France (11%), the United Kingdom (8.4%) or Singapore (3.4%). When the World Health Organization rated health systems around the world, Germany ranked 25. [The U.S. was 37, behind Malta, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.] And although the U.S. is in a recession, it’s worth noting tough economic times haven't caused other industrialized countries to put healthcare on the back burner. The United Kingdom made healthcare available to everyone following World War II, when the country was in economic ruin.

It’s worth noting that Medicare and Medicaid account for half of the total spent on healthcare, but this system is paying for the elderly, whose annual healthcare cost is more ($5,531) than that of the average American (median age 35.3 years) ($4,778). More alarming is that insurance companies spend 10% of their revenue on administrative overhead. [By comparison, Medicare and Medicaid spend between 2 and 5%.] I find it difficult to sympathize with the insurance companies who claim they wouldn’t be able to compete, financially, against a public option plan when they are lobbying hundreds of millions of dollars against Obama’s reform. Why aren’t health companies using this money to investigate, develop, and advertise alternative healthcare reform plans?

Yes, everyone has access to emergency healthcare (like dialing 911 or walking into an ER), but the millions without health insurance are significantly less likely to receive preventative care. Without early detection and the immediate implementation of other prevention methods, a simple ailment (like inflammation in blood vessels) may become a chronic condition (i.e. heart disease). If those without health insurance are unable to obtain optimal treatment in a timely fashion, then they will be forced to have a more extensive, and often more expensive, treatment – all at the cost of the taxpayer. Currently, 50% of all bankruptcies are due to medical bills.

Tort reform to curtail malpractice lawsuits is a necessity. Individual states have (Texas and California) or are in the process (Pennsylvania) of passing legislation related to this. However, it is difficult to gauge the effect curtailing malpractice lawsuits would have on reducing total healthcare costs, as the numbers range from $0 to $108 billion.

The above argument does not appeal to a higher moral purpose at all, but instead addresses the health care question from the stance of financial minimization. Even if you believe that those without health care shouldn’t get health care, you must concede that this is an ideal that is not currently practiced and is likely an impossibility; the cost has been and will continue to be passed along to others.

I support Health Care for America Now