The Failing American Healthcare System
The American healthcare system is the most needlessly complicated healthcare system in the world. If you ask us Americans to explain how the system works, by and large we have no idea. I’m not even going to pretend I fully understand it. We have Medicare and Medicaid which both sound the same but Medicare is an insurance program available for seniors (people over 65) paid for by 2 trust fund accounts maintained by the Department of the Treasury and Medicaid a is welfare program for low-income people of any age paid for by federal income taxes. Then there’s the children’s health program for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but aren’t covered by private insurance. For veterans we have a nationalized healthcare system operated by the Veteran’s Health Administration. But the public health programs don’t fully cover healthcare costs because we have copayments that have to be paid out of pocket.
If our government-run healthcare programs aren’t needlessly complicated enough with all the bureaucratic red tape then look no further than private health insurance. You can buy that directly or get it from an employer-sponsored group insurance plan. That’s right. The healthcare system is unnecessarily entangled with employment in America. If you change jobs you could lose your healthcare plan. Isn’t that just brilliant? Even if you directly buy healthcare not through an employer you still have to pay deductibles which can cost thousands. For example if your deductible is $3000 and you need an operation that costs $2500 your insurance won’t pay for any of it. The insurance doesn’t kick in until you pay over $3000. After the “policy period” it resets and you have to pay over $3000 again before your private insurance pays a nickel. All that only if you can get the private insurance to pay and of course they try to find any reason not to because it saves them money. And then after that you still might have coinsurance and copayments.
Also we can’t forget the 27 million Americans that have no healthcare of any kind public or private in the middle of a pandemic. To make matters worse the US has no federally mandated paid sick leave and most states don’t have it either. So if you’re poor you get to make the choice between putting food on the table and potentially infecting others with a deadly virus and risking your own health. Being uninsured makes you always financially vulnerable. You’re always 1 medical emergency away from bankruptcy or drowning in medical expenses you’ll have to slave away to pay off for the next 2 decades. And that’s not even counting the underinsured.
Every other major country on earth guarantees healthcare access to every citizen. It’s morally incomprehensible that in the year 2021 the US still hasn’t universalized healthcare.
In the documentary film Sicko Michael Moore does a great job of comparing the US healthcare system with healthcare in the rest of the civilized world by showcasing the wastefulness and cruelty of the US system. You can find criticism of the film on Wikipedia. Keep in mind health insurance companies with billions of dollars ran a campaign to discredit the film. Given that, I take the criticisms with a grain of salt. The thrust of the film is accurate regardless: America has a broken healthcare system and fixing it is a moral imperative.
The only comment I would make is the film (2007) is slightly dated because past president Barack Obama has since passed a major piece of legislation called the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which was designed to address the gaps in America’s healthcare system. It has improved healthcare access in the United States. If you want to catch up on American healthcare you should read about it after watching the film. President-elect Joe Biden promoted the public option which offers public healthcare to everyone as a federal program (Bidencare) forcing private insurers to compete with the government. Not as good as Bernie’s Medicare for All which would catch us up with the rest of the civilized world but Bidencare would at least be better than what we have now assuming he actually goes forward with it and it doesn’t end up being watered down.