From a purely pragmatic standpoint, I truly do not see an economical way for the United States to advance as a nation without a single-payer national healthcare system. I’ve listened to the arguments of those against it and find that they are not entirely unfounded. Yes, switching to a healthcare for all system might initially result in a slowing of healthcare advancement. Yes, doing so is unjust as it inhibits free choice and imposes mandatory healthcare payments. I hear you, but at the same time I can’t ignore human nature. The concept of how to handle healthcare in the United States is a topic of much debate and there are many talking points for both sides, which are oftentimes complicated with current legislation, testimonial pathos, and competing socio-economic philosophies. Part of the debate is driven by the opinions of doctors. It troubles me, but does not surprise me, when I encounter college students who want to study medicine for the money. Many of these students are not of high enough caliber or committed enough to complete medical school, take on enormous debt, complete residencies, and become a successful physician, however, some of them are. I understand that through arduous studying, time commitment, and interacting with patients, most of them will come to love their job and find satisfaction in helping others, but the powerful sway of money becomes exceedingly consequential in the medical industry. I firmly believe that physicians need to, and should, be compensated well. They take on extraordinary stress, financial risk, legal liability, and are performing well-above average tasks on a consistent basis. That being said, it worries me to see the argument for their entitlement (oftentimes masked in other caveats about changing the current system) holding equal weight to the argument of people being unable to afford healthcare in life or death situations. With close to a quarter of Americans holding medical expense debt, even under current insurance policies, it is obvious that the problem is not going away. Accruing so much medical debt that one needs to declare bankruptcy is also not the solution. Competition within the medical industry will continue to yield advancements no matter how we alter disbursements, or if we audaciously removed socio-economic privilege from our healthcare system. It is simply unacceptable for only the rich to be able to afford optimal health insurance plans or for anyone to expect minimum wage employees to be able to pay for adequate coverage. If anything, when the ease for people to make money diminishes, such as with capping drug pricing in the pharmaceutical industry, people and companies will try harder to push for innovation, in hopes to offset their perceived losses from changes in the medical industry’s financial construct. This is dictated by the greedy aspect of human nature.
I have occasionally found myself agreeing with the idea that everyone should have the choice to fend for themselves. Maybe you want to go live out in the country, live off the land, and contribute to society in a manner that allows you to save money, which can be used for unexpected or planned medical expenses. Why should you, a hard-working, seemingly healthy citizen who saved responsibly, be forced to buy health coverage or pay into a system that helps cover those less prepared or fortunate? To me, the answer is simple- healthcare has advanced to the point that the average American cannot afford lifesaving procedures, which often cannot be planned for. You can fend for yourself- until you can’t. Depending on your job, a severe injury can result in being unable to work for an extended period. Your health savings account or money under the mattress is likely not enough to fund cancer treatment, heart surgery, or even less dire, but still involved, orthopedic surgery. Even with health insurance, many of these health issues are too expensive for the average American to afford. Diagnostic procedures such as a CT scan or MRI are also quite expensive and cost prohibitive if not covered by health insurance. These procedures can in fact save money by aiding in earlier detection, resulting in less involved treatment. The desire to help someone in need is part of human nature, but doing so often results in expensive medical care, the cost of which is deferred to a later date and ultimately unresolved. When pushed into a corner, people that are ill will do almost anything to endure, be it committing crimes or deceiving the system. Survival is part of human nature. People can’t predict the future and often construct their arguments when the situation suits them and their current circumstance. Circumstance is temporary and people need to be less short-sighted. Yes, there are coldhearted people claiming to believe that if you are poor and can’t afford insurance, or did not have the foresight to pay for it, then you should have to deal with the consequences. Unfortunately for these inconsiderate few, the “tough luck” mentality is not how the US public currently operates, and hopefully never will be.
Wouldn’t it be better to have a medical system that covers the “worst-case scenario” and eradicates a collective problem? Absolutely. Do I have faith that this will happen? No. We are apparently the greatest nation in the world… or soon to be made “great again,” yet we still have homeless people, parentless children, hunger, contaminated drinking water, crime, and politicians that hold corporate interests above the collective good. Instead of investing in wars and discrimination, we should be investing in technology, education, and fixing the aforementioned issues at home.