We Stand Firm has written an interesting article about the Colorado Medical Society and their support of health care coverage for Coloradans that should be “universal, continuous, portable, and mandatory.” I’m strongly in favor of health insurance for everyone in Colorado (and indeed, the US) that is universal, continuous, portable, and mandatory. I know this is a controversial topic, but I find it interesting to note that the Colorado Medical Society also supports the idea of some sort of universal health care. The hows and whys are yet to be hashed out, but it’s good to see that this is their overall position.
The article from We Stand Firm includes a letter from Dr. Bruce Fisch, a nephrologist in Denver, who is very opposed to universal single-payer health care. I find it interesting that he thinks that health care models that are working all around the world could not work here:
“The values here in America are unique, contrasting drastically with Canada, Europe, and Asia. Liberty and free thought with regard to one’s health and health care are paramount among them. One cannot accurately apply European models here in the USA.”
Why not? What values do we have that make it ok for 47 million of our people to be without health care – without access to any sort of quality health care? How are we so different from Europeans? I could understand if people wanted to point out how our values are different from say, Cuba’s. But Europe is full of democracies. Canada is not a Communist country. These are places with ideals that are very similar to ours in a lot of ways.
When people are opposed to universal health care, they almost always cite the problem of waiting lists in countries with national health care, and people dying while waiting on the list for treatment. I agree that this is a problem. But how is it any worse than the problem we have right now, with such a large number of people who are waiting for care that they are never going to get, and are not on any sort of waiting list at all? At least with a list, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And while I know that some people die on waiting lists in countries with national health care, lots of Americans die while waiting for organ transplants. The problem of waiting lists and lack of care are not unique to countries with universal health care.
A good friend of mine lives in New Zealand, and is battling ovarian cancer. It was first diagnosed in 2004, and within 24 hours of the diagnosis, she had been flown to Christchurch for surgery, along with her husband and daughter. Everything was paid for by the national health system. Her care has been proactive, top notch, and she’s still alive (currently in her third round of chemo since 2004) despite a prognosis of 2 – 4 years when the cancer was diagnosed. Her mother had a hip problem diagnosed around the same time as my friend’s cancer. Since the hip problem, while painful, was not life or limb-threatening, out came the waiting list. She waited about six months to see an orthopedist. Eventually she was seen and treated – paid for by the national health care system. Yes, she had to wait. But her daughter did not. It’s possible to have a universal health care system that applies waiting lists only to conditions that are not life threatening. From the time I spent in New Zealand. I’d have to say that the basic values of the people there are pretty similar to the basic values we have here. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are high on their list too. But nobody there gets cancer and has to figure out how to pay for the treatment.