How Healthcare Became Political

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Right now you may be concerned with the latest movies or tv shows but there is another health topic U.S. citizens may need to be concerned about. Whether you like it or not, politicians can meddle in your health care program and whether it is an immediate concern of yours or not, you may want to look into the topic.

 

Citizens of Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are already enjoying free healthcare and universal health care. In the United States, Dr. Rashi Fein of the Harvard Medical School believes it will be many years more before we will have national health insurance. In fact, the United States stands as the only developed nation without universal health coverage. However, the U.S. government spends most on healthcare per person than Canada and other countries with free, universal health coverage. This has created an environment in the U.S. where things like Essential Fitness apparel, top rated wrist wraps of 2016 and supplements to try and stay out of any of these health care institutions and just take care of themselves. 

 

But, why? Below are three reasons that attempt to explain why our country lacks a national health insurance.

  1. The strong American sense of individuality. Americans, in particular conservatives, believe in classical liberalism. There is that strong belief that government’s role in society should be limited and healthcare should be a personal responsibility. Public research also pointed to a low percentage of Americans believing that health care should be government’s responsibility.
  2. Interest groups invest much against it. Billions are spent in active lobbying against any attempts at a comprehensive national health insurance. The insurance industry alone spends hundreds of millions to keep private insurance as opposed to a government-funded one.
  3. Any type of entitlement program in the U.S. is hard to enact. Once something gets going in the government, it goes through the obstacle course of budget estimates, congressional committees, amendments, opposition and a potential veto. Also, people in general don’t like it when drastic change happens all of a sudden. Any health care policy involves lots of people receiving benefits and those involve a lot of costs. Private health insurance in the U.S. is expensive and lots of people rely on cost-reducing subsidies through their employers or the government. With the U.S. per capita spending in healthcare at almost $10,000, any effort to expand healthcare coverage will result in higher taxes due to skyrocketing expenses.

 

But how did we get to this point? When did America start to move towards a different direction than the other industrialized nations and build up a system that focused on private insurance? Karen Palmer, a professor of health science at Simon Fraser University suggests that a series of historical events led to this point.

 

Before World War I, liberal governments attempted to follow the lead of Germany and the other countries regarding healthcare but opposition came from every direction including insurance companies, private businesses, labor organizations, and doctors. State-sponsored healthcare was seen as an unnecessary and paternalistic expense. Palmer further noted that the root of the current system happened in 1943 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt imposed a labor wage freeze and companies began offering pension and health benefits to retain their workers. Some, like the Obamacare made employer-sponsored healthcare a government mandate whereas the healthcare reform proposed by the Trump administration will remove this mandate.

 

Another turning point, says Palmer happened in 1944 when California governor Earl Warren introduced a compulsory state-wide health insurance, paid for through Social Security. The founders of  of Campaigns, Inc, in behalf of the California Medical Association lobbied against the so-called German invention and gained success.

 

Even in the 1910s, medical professionals and right-wing politicians opposed attempts to expand national health coverage renouncing the concept as Soviet-inspired. The result is the medical industry benefits more from this system able to pay doctors in the US more than elsewhere. Finally, David Himmelstein, a professor of public health at CUNY explains the absence of a labor party in the US representing the working class as an overarching explanation.

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