Editor’s Note: For a while now we have been revisiting the debate about healthcare in the US, a national discussion that has now collapsed into sterile arguments between those who mistakenly (or in bad faith) vociferously denounce Obama’s healthcare reform as socialized medicine and those who defend it as a substantive step forward on that infinite trek Americans sheepishly tolerate toward a decent and rational system. Gilles D’Aymery, Swans.com editor, like our own editorial group, has worried about this topic for a long time. Below is one of his many contributions to clarity on this subject. (Bear in mind these notes were prepared a few years back.)—PG
Health Care Here And There
by Gilles d’Aymery
(Swans – September 21, 2009) I’ve read that last year over 20 percent of medical claims in California were denied by the private health-insurance companies. According to the knowledgeable and often-entertaining Harper’s Index (Harper’s Magazine, September 2009) the average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies have shot up 87 percent in the past six years. During that same period the profits of the top ten insurance companies have multiplied by 428 percent. (Average CEO compensation in that rarefied field is $12 million.) The Harper’s Index tells us that 7 in 10 American families bankrupted due to medical bills have health insurance. Washington State’s subsidized health plan intends to reduce its membership by one-third by jacking up insurance premiums 70 percent.
With this benign introduction let me invite the readers to visit or revisit the dossier published on Swans in September 2004: “America #1 — Score Card 2004,” which had the byline A Model of Freedom and Democracy for the World to Emulate ™. In this dossier, I went through a series of “metrics” — a word much in favor in Washington, D.C. — that provided a statistical picture of the U.S. In the section on health care, I compared health care expenditures, performance ranking, life expectancy, infant mortality, number of physicians and nurses, number of hospital beds per population, etc. in four countries: the USA, France, Cuba, and Israel. All the sources were official and meticulously documented so that I could not be charged with somehow doctoring the data. Please take the time to carefully review the results. Better yet, make a printout of the dossier. You will need it later. [Continue reading here]
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