The public outcry concerning the disparity of the very rich to the rest of the population has coined the term “the 99%.” They are the folks who do not control the wealth in the United States. They are the disappearing middle class, the working class, the working poor and the poor. Most of the 99%, but not all, have or can find assistance for housing and food, two basic needs that are taken care of.
However, nowhere does the difference between the very rich and “the 99%” come close to the inequities in health care.
Our health care delivery model is known as employer based health care. This means that most people who have health care insurance receive it as a benefit from their employer. However, due to the increasing costs of health insurance, employer-provided plans have become stingier through increasing co-pays, increasing employee share of premiums and reducing coverage.
The federal government, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, took only baby steps towards solving the problems of adequate health insurance for all.
Even when fully implemented, health insurance will not cover everything and total coverage including co-pays and deductibles will still be costly. While these expenses will be a heavy burden for the 99 percent of Americans who are not wealthy, the very wealthy will not be burdened at all. Their employer-provided health care insurance likely carries no deductibles or co-pays and covers all expenses including long-term care.
nowhere does the difference between the very rich (1%) and “the 99%” come close to inequities in health carebit.ly/UuaBjY
— Karen Maskall(@kar3n2) September 20, 2012
Government regulation works. The American With Disabilities Act insured that all new buildings in the United States are handicap accessible and most public buildings built before the act were forced to retrofit. Why does a country that tries to eliminate discrimination for handicapped folks by providing handicap accessible bathrooms, water fountains and even apartment buildings that have a wheelchair lift not try to end discrimination of the less wealthy in accessing health care?
Profit. A simple one-word answer.
Drug manufacturers, for profit hospital and nursing home chains, and other interest groups pour millions dollars into Washington to fight regulations that would make health care more easily accessible to the poor. The drug companies ceased lobbying against the Affordable Care Act (depressingly called “Obama Care”) when the government agreed not to attempt to get better pricing for Medicare recipients on drugs and promise that Medicare itself would not encourage providers to actively bid for drugs. We have the highest health care costs in the world, yet as citizens are ranked as only the 17th most healthy.
Almost every other democracy in the world provides health care as a right for its citizens, many with far better outcomes and lower costs.
The Affordable Health Care Act did not go far enough. The profit motive must be removed from health care insurance providers and drug companies. Institutions that provide health care should be subject to limited return on investment. Basically, the Western European model of socialized, single payer medical care makes sense if we view equality of health care as a right rather than a privilege for the most wealthy.
Should all health insurers fail, leaving the 99% without insurance of any kind, the 1% most wealthy could easily pay cash for all their health care needs with almost no impact on their net worth.
The 1% must receive the same benefits as all others, though perhaps asked to pay a bit more through taxes. But they should not be excluded by a means test, nor should they forfeit any Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits through means testing. However, taking the caps off Social Security and Medicare would go a long way to making these programs financially stable.