On Health Care.

Howdy, y’all.

the following was rejected by the Dallas Morning News and the Rockwall Herald Tribune. My purpose in writing it was to try and persuade Republican readers that we are looking at facts rather than ideology. I wanted them to retrace my steps in researching health care and to, hopefully, reach the same conclusion.

 

 

The health care debate has fallen prey to perverse political calculations. I am aware that statistics can be interpreted – and spun – so as to fit ideology. I therefore went in search of hard facts, not poll results. I am an expert on neither health care nor economics, but I can google with the best of them. I searched “life expectancy in industrialized countries” and “health care costs in industrialized countries”. Anyone with a computer and an interest in national life can do the same. I visited sites considered neutral and sites suspect to some: Kaiser Family Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, Forbes, pbs and the CIA among others. I found the Kaiser Family Foundation site, which based its analysis on data obtained from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) to be the most helpful.

The Commonwealth Fund, in “U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective”, citing 2013 data from the OECD, came to this conclusion: “Even though the US is the only country without a publicly financed universal health system, it still spends more dollars on healthcare [….] In contrast, the US devotes a relatively small share of its economy to social services such as housing assistance, employment programs, disability benefits and food security. Finally, despite its heavy investment in health care, the US sees poorer results on several key health outcome measures such as life expectancy and the prevalence of chronic conditions.” Kaiser reached the same conclusions.

The brightest spot in the US health care picture is the research and development of new treatments and technologies, through both private and public (National Institutes of Health) institutions. Cancer research, especially, has led to better outcomes.

I grew up in Belgium and lived in Israel before coming to the United States. Both countries have single payer systems. Wait times for certain procedures may be longer there, although that was not my experience, and I suspect that tax rates for most of the population are higher than in the US. On the other hand, people sleep better at night knowing that the system will take care of them should a medical emergency occur. They will not be bankrupted by a long illness.

My parents complained about taxes their entire life. When my mother developed ALS, the caregivers her taxes had paid for over the years treated her with respect and enabled her to live in her own home as long as possible. The larger the insurance pool (in this case the whole population) the better cost can be absorbed.

To those who told me to go back to where I came from: I love this country, and it has been good to me. This is why I care and this is why I wrote this.

 

Marie-Anne Schiffmann has lived in Rockwall since 2008 and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Texas Democratic Party convention.

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