Columns » Hightower

A ripoff for-profit health system

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Rather than a health care system, our country’s leaders have kept us shackled to a “corporate care” system, allowing insurance giants, drug company gougers, hospital chains and other profiteers to ration our care based on whether a family can pay whatever outrageous price the corporations demand to maintain their exorbitant profits.

While the guiding ethic of physicians, nurses and other caregivers is: “First, do no harm,” the corporate owners of the system impose a contrary ethic: “First, maximize our profits.” Thus, despite Americans spending some $3.2 trillion a year on health care — more than any other country in the world — 28 million of our people have no health coverage; tens of millions are so underinsured they can’t use the policy they’re paying for; one out of five adults can’t afford prescription drugs they need; our people are less healthy than those of other advanced nations (for example, the U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectancy); and CEOs and top shareholders of the system are hauling off multiple millions of dollars each.

Can’t we do better than that? Of course we can — if we start treating health care as a human right, rather than a corporate profit center.

And doing this doesn’t require a whole new complex system. Congress can just extend America’s successful Medicare program to every man, woman and child in our country. This egalitarian “Medicare for All” idea would deliver comprehensive care, be much easier for patients to navigate and be far cheaper than today’s ripoff for-profit system. At last, a hospital stay would not bankrupt a family, people wouldn’t avoid going to the doctor because they can’t afford it, prescription drugs would be affordable and workers wouldn’t be stuck in bad jobs just to get basic health coverage.

To learn more about Medicare-for-All, go to BernieSanders.com/MedicareForAll.

Meanwhile: Republican congressional leaders have come up with yet another grand scheme to fix America’s health care system. So look out — because when they say “fix,” they mean it in the same sense as your veterinarian uses the word.

For the gazillionth time, GOP lawmakers have put a shiny new ribbon on their same old ugly package of health insurance deforms. As before, this latest plan would eliminate coverage for millions of Americans, raise the price of insurance for the middle class and deliver much less care.

But one guy says he loves it: “A great bill,” tweeted Donald Trump.

I’m guessing that, once again, our Twitterer-in-Chief hasn’t actually read the bill he’s praising, or even scanned the factual summary of what it does.

You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com.

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