Just a few more Colorado Health Insurance Insider thoughts on Michael Moore’s Sicko… One thing that struck me in the movie was when Moore pointed out that the US already has lots of public “socialized” systems, including firefighters and public education. I doubt that many people like the idea of having firefighting services that have to be purchased the way we buy health insurance policies. It would suck to have your house on fire, call 911, and have the dispatcher look up your information and find out that you’re behind on your fire premiums. Oops, guess you better get out the garden hose.
And what about public education? In the late 90s, I was a high school math teacher with the Peace Corps in Tanzania. The majority of Tanzanian children attend primary school, for at least a few years, because the schools are mostly run by the government and are free (although parents did have to buy uniforms and supplies and in some cases pay small fees). But that all changed at 8th grade. The students in my classes (the equivalent of grades 9 – 12 here in the US) ranged in age from 14 to 24. The oldest were the ones who could only afford to attend secondary school for a year at a time, having to take a year or two off in between to earn money to pay the next year’s school fees. Very few Tanzanians attend secondary school. It is not free, and the school fees are very high in comparison with annual incomes. I can’t imagine that here in America we would rather have a similar system, with most of our citizens leaving school at or before 8th grade. We seem to like our free public education very much. And people don’t go around talking about how scary “socialized education” is. Instead, we realize that it is an asset to the country and a good use of tax dollars.
Police, firefighters, teachers – they all perform valuable public service that is paid for by most of us in the form of taxes, and benefits most of us in various ways over the course of our lives. So why is it such a stretch to imagine health care being provided in the same way? We don’t require that people have law enforcement insurance in order to call for help if someone breaks into their home. We don’t ask people to pay education premiums in order to send their children to public schools. So why do we require Americans to have private health insurance in order to realistically have access to quality health care?