Yes, I can’t help it. I noticed that there are now TV commercials from special interest groups that are once again trying to scare people about health care reform. President Obama is correct in saying that without real health care reform there cannot be a true economic recovery. While the car companies may have failed because they were making the wrong cars, they also had the enormous burden of health care for their current and retired employees. So great was this burden that health care expense represented more in the price of a car than steel.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was passed unanimously by the UN stated that health care was a basic human right:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
I truly believe that health care is a basic human right. Of the 27 industrialized nations in the world, 26 provide universal health care for its citizens. The one that does not? Yes, that’s right, the USA. While we have the most expensive health care system in the world, we lag behind other countries in areas such as infant mortality, breast cancer screening, childhood leukemia and heart attack survival rates.
We pay over twice what other countries with universal health care pay and yet, we do not get our money’s worth. Worse yet, millions have no insurance or coverage in our country and many millions more are “under insured.” These under insured are often ignored in the system. The natural result of the rapidly escalating cost of health insurance is the flight to very high deductible plans or health care savings accounts, both of which provide a disincentive to seek preventative care and screenings.
We are setting ourselves up for a more costly health care time bomb when unscreened individuals discover the hard way that they have diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases.
The payer of last resort has always been employee-sponsored health insurance. Our surveys show that this fragile leg of the system we call health care in our country is crumbling as employers drop coverage, move more costs to their employees or go to very high deductibles and co-pays.
This has been a slow train coming for decades. The rate of increase of health insurance has made employer-sponsored health care unsustainable. When I first started in business, I could buy health insurance for a family for about $1500; now it costs $15,000. No longer are decisions about hiring new employees solely made by opportunity and business plans—if you are an employer that does the right thing by providing this benefit for your workers, you must also consider the astronomical cost of health insurance.
These employers are also put between a rock and a hard place as they have a competitive disadvantage in bidding for business when providing this benefit is voluntary and the competitor has a lower overhead structure by not providing health insurance to their employees in the race to the bottom.
This is why I am an advocate for a publicly-financed universal health care system. You may call that a “single-payer” system, but I really do not care if there is one payer or ten payers—I want the burden of health care lifted from employers and recognized as the “common good” that it truly is. I want us to put the sentiment that our country voted for in the UN into law—access to health care is a human right!