Opinion

Health care is moving forward, but is it moving in the right direction?

I shall not bother confronting claims that recent U.S. healthcare legislation is a step towards Stalinism. It is not that I am lazy, but the presuppositions necessary to hold such a view cannot realistically be countered in one article.

Unfortunately, it is still necessary to counter the view that the new law is a “step in the right direction” based on our new administration’s enlightened benevolence. This paper has featured arguments that health care is a right and should be provided for with taxpayer money. I agree, but this country still has the most inefficient health care system in the industrialized world, and insurance companies will now receive public subsidies for their profit.

The U.S. spends twice as much per capita on health care costs as European countries and yet has worse results. The difference? First, private insurance companies operate at a profit. Second, these companies must compete through advertising at great cost and must maintain an expensive and inefficient bureaucracy to help deal with the complicated flow of paperwork that is an outcome of such a fragmented system.

Third, patients are protected on pharmaceuticals, thus allowing drug companies to make enormous profits, even though R & D for these products is sometimes in large part paid for by taxpayers and the work carried out in the state sector, in universities for example.

In addition the government is legally banned from using its purchasing power in order to lower drug prices. As we all know, the health care industry is one of the largest contributors to politicians’ campaigns, in Obama’s case second only to financial institutions.

I was raised in England, where health care, despite many statements to the contrary, is not “free.” It is paid for with taxes but of course health costs per capita are half of what they are here.

There, one walks into a hospital at no charge and receives quick service (as I have myself). Stories of endless waits are simply not true and the rich can always pay extra for private care if they wish. If you do not believe this, travel to England, pretend to be sick and the doctor will see you for free and will not even have to call your insurance company.

One further objection? “I will be refused care by a government death panel!” Well, better than by an insurance company for their own profit.

Adam Bird-Ridnell is a sophomore majoring in history and philosophy. He may be contacted at abirdridnell@themiamihurricane.com.

April 18, 2010

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