United States is a health care outlier | Letter

The United States finishes last among the world’s wealthiest 11 nations when it comes to health care.

Jeff Jared strikes again. Mr. Jared is vehemently opposed to socialized medicine, (Kirkland Reporter, Dec. 25, 2017) a medical approach that has a proven track record — and a better track record — in a majority of western, industrialized nations. Don’t take my word for it. According to a report published by the Commonwealth Fund in 2014, the United States finishes last among the world’s wealthiest 11 nations. Dare I say, “Dead last?”

Here is the simple truth: The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, France and Canada all surpass the United States in almost every health care category, especially per capita cost. While Americans spent $8,500 dollars per capita (2011), UK residents spent $3,400 dollars for much better health care. Even more startling, everyone in the UK is covered. Everyone. Even visitors to the UK should they need health care. The UK has universal health care, as do nine of the other 10 nations cited in the study. The United States is the outlier.

So let’s summarize. The United States doesn’t have universal health care and ranks dead last while its citizens pay considerably more. That’s no way to run a health care system. And Mr. Jared’s “we-gotta-keep-the-free-market-system” approach offers no solutions at all.

For instance, he suggests legalizing “bare bones health insurance” (Point 1). What would it insure? What wouldn’t be covered? Would I dare to get diabetes? Asthma? Cancer? None of us gets to choose our diseases. Which of us plans our slips, our falls or our accidents?

And of course, “de-credentializing” (Point 10) won’t bring us better doctors or nurses — only unqualified ones. And when we are ill served by bad health care providers, Mr. Jared advocates “limited liability” (Point 9).

Finally, Mr. Jared would rescind the mandate requiring employers to provide health care (Point 3), something that almost every employee I have ever known values. He would rather individuals use a medical savings account (Point 6). This suggestion flies in the face of decades of wage stagnation and a growing number of low- and middle-income families who simply wouldn’t be able to put enough — if any — money aside.

No. Our goals should be 1) universal coverage for all; 2) coverage that covers everyone for literally everything; and 3) coverage that is less expensive because the profit motive has been removed. Ten other wealthy nations have already done it. Those are the facts.

John R. Scannell,

Sammamish

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