Past Meetup

Should we have Medicare/Universal Healthcare for all? How can we make it happen?

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From The New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 2010

It is hard to ignore that in 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy. These facts have fueled a question now being discussed in academic circles, as well as by government and the public: Why do we spend so much to get so little?

From PBS Newshour:

Let’s consider what 17 cents of every U.S. dollar is purchasing. According to the most recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — an international economic group comprised of 34 member nations — it’s not as much as many Americans expect. In the United States:

~ There are fewer physicians per person than in most other OECD countries. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. had 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people — well below below the OECD average of 3.1.

~ The number of hospital beds in the U.S. was 2.6 per 1,000 population in 2009, lower than the OECD average of 3.4 beds.

~ Life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years between 1960 and 2010, but that’s less than the increase of over 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in OECD countries. The average American now lives 78.7 years in 2010, more than one year below the average of 79.8 years.

From UPI:

Referring to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, From 1990-2010, among 34 developed countries, the United States ranked for several health criteria at around 27th, researchers say. "The United States spends the most per capita on healthcare across all countries, lacks universal health coverage, and lags behind other high-income countries for life expectancy and many other health outcome measures," the study said. "In the last two decades, improvements in population health in the United States did not keep pace with advances in population health in other wealthy nations."

From a response by Alan Grayson:

When you and I need to see a doctor in order to be able to stay healthy or even alive, that is a human right. [In] every other industrial country in the entire world, that is a [human] right. There is universal healthcare in every other major country in the world, and yet we have a population of uninsured in this country that is essentially the same as the population of a major country like Italy or France. We have that many people who are uninsured. We pay more for our health coverage than any other country in the world. [Yet] our life expectancy is only 50th in the world. People ask themselves, "How can we possibly spend so much, and get so little?" The answer is that we have a system that is a bunch of compromises which features, at its center, a conflict of interest: A conflict of interest between you and your insurance company. The [insurance] company wants to give you as little care they can possibly get away with, and wants to charge you as much as they can possibly get away with, and the difference is what they call 'profit'. That is the system that provides care, at great expense and at great profit (for the insurance companies), to half of all Americans today.

Questions:

Is healthcare a basic human right?

Do we need the "middlemen" insurance companies? Can financial markets survive disolving health insurance companies?

How could we fund Medicare for all?

Will the medical community support this?