Sunday, July 19, 2009

Healthcare


300 million population, $14 trillion GDP, $47,000 GDP per capita. Yes, I am talking about United States - a triumphant giant of MOOLAH and the definition of capitalism. You may see people claim that the entire country's endeavor of achieving the American Dream has come true - except I'll answer "Yeah, except this country will not have many people ALIVE to nourish it". I'm discussing about the god awful broken healthcare system of United States - it is impossible for many people to get an affordable healthcare system in one of the most developed, industrialized country on this planet.

Bill Clinton came to my school and discussed about the healthcare system of United States. Much to my dismay, I was startled to find out that nearly 35% of the entire population was not enrolled in any type of healh insurance. This is a figure that is impossible to see in any of the developed countries. Even in South Korea, virtually everyone is enrolled in a health insurance because of how affordable it is. How could the United States not do what South Korea could? Let's take a moment to look at the cold truth.

If you want to have a health insurance in the United States, you either have to be extremely poor (medicaid), be 65 years old or be handicapped (medicare). If you don't fall into these categories, that means you will have to pay a humongous amount of money every month just to be enrolled in a health care (This is no exaggeration. Annual premium for an average family costs about $12,700 per year).

Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Even if you HAVE healthcare, it often comes with numerous limitations such as which illness you are suffering from (and it's not as lax as "no coverage for dental care". This gets so specific that it can break your balls) and which hospital you go to. I MEAN, WHY WOULD IT MATTER WHICH HOSPITAL YOU GO TO WHEN YOU'RE IN A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION? So if you don't read the 30 pages long pamphlet they give you with the insurance, you'll be really screwed.

I'm not finished. What's more ridiculous about this fact is that United States spends way more on healthcare than any other industrialized nation which is more than 4.3 times the amount spent for national defense. Seriously, go look up the figure of how much it is because it nearly made me puke. Now I dare you, name a single country that makes "healthcare" look as ridiculous as this. Bet your ass you couldn't.

This is what happens when you privatize human essentials. All health insurance companies in US are privately owned virtually without any government endorsement so that there's really nothing you can do about its rising costs. In economic terms, the relationship of supply and demand for healthcare is known to be inelastic meaning that changes in price witness only modest changes in the quantity of service. This results in a ridiculous price inflation if not controlled properly.

If that was too difficult to understand, let's just look at a different example regarding how privatizaiton can ruin shit for us. In 2001, the US government decided to let the power sector be privatized in the state of California to minimize the costs. It was a typical neoliberalistic type of thinking that if the market had no influence from the government at all, the market would run at its maximum efficiency. Well as some people may already know, the result turned out to be drastically horrendous - the whole state suffered a blackout (I'm not sure for how long, somebody fill me in if you know). Why did this happen? Well normally, power plants would produce approximately 30% excess power in case the consumption rate for the power rises out of anticipation. But this means that additional power generated goes to a waste if there isn't enough consumption for it. Now consider, what would the power company do here? Remember, the power company is privatized, so they'd want to make as much profir as possible. So this is what happened - the power company in California decided to cut the excess power generated from 30% to 5% LOL. I was speechless to find this out. I mean it was imminent that California suffers a power problem. The US government really learned a lesson they will never forget.

See the issue here? Electricity is a basic human necessity. It's not something you can control on. It's not like you will start using candles if your bulb doesn't work. Healthcare is a basic human necessity too - why privatize shit that every human being will need at some point of their life?Even though Korea's healthcare system does have its own problems, I can guarantee that it is no where near as ridiculous as US's healthcare system, because at least they realized not to privatize healthcare.

I'm not necessarily criticizing on how ineffective neoliberal policies are. But leaving human essentials to the market? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Imagine if 911 was ran by a company and their interest was to make money before saving lives. That's one hell of a utopia huh?

This is one of the important factors I think Obama should realize. Don't get me wrong, Obama is an awesome candidate and I heartedly support him, but I think that some of his economic reform plans are flawed. Although it seems that he is making a great point with cost shifting tactic, it's only delaying the very inevitable. Yes, it might give everyone health care, but it'll only degrade on the quality of the service provided. I'm not going to touch on this at the moment, I've dragged this topic on for too long, maybe I save this one for later.

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