Health Care

Gov't Already Runs Health Care For Nearly 30% of Country

| by AFL-CIO

Some people say they don’t want health care reform because they don’t want the government involved. Or—shiver me timbers and pass the Socialist smelling salts—they don’t want a “government-run health care system.”

Here’s news for them: The private health care system in the United States is so bad that more people already are getting their health care from the government because they can’t get it in the private sector.

This from that most Communist of daily newspapers,The Wall Street Journal:

More people are getting their health insurance from the government as the number of individuals with coverage from an employer declines…

The number of people in the U.S. without health insurance rose by about 700,000 between 2007 and 2008 to 46.3 million. The proportion of uninsured was essentially unchanged at 15.4 percent.

An additional 4.4 million people in the U.S. were insured by the government as of 2008, for a total of 87.4 million, or 29 percent of the population, up from 27.8 percent in 2007. At the same time, 1.1 million fewer people had coverage from an employer in 2008, leaving 176.3 million people with such coverage.

Under the nation’s current health care system, we pay more for worse health care than anyone else in any industrialized nation. Or, as writer Brad Reed succinctly sums it up: Americans pay more to die earlier.

In 2007, the United States spent an average of $7,290 per person on health care—16 percent of gross domestic product [GDP]. By contrast, our Canadian neighbors spent an average of $3,895 per person, or 10 percent of GDP. The British spent $2,992 per person, or 8.4 percent of GDP. And the Japanese, who have some of the
longest life expectancies in the world, spend $2,581 per person, or 8 percent of GDP.

Just ask some of the 2,000 people in Harris County, Texas, who on Saturday packed into what is being described as the largest free clinic ever held in the United States. This from the local ABC news outlet in Houston:

Many of the people we talked to can’t afford health insurance, especially in the rough economy. Some say it shows the need for health care reform.

All patients who saw a doctor Saturday will get information about a free clinic near their home where they can go for follow-up care. There are at least eight here in the Houston area, and these days they are busier than ever.

In 2008, the National Association of Free Clinics says its doctors saw 4 million patients. This year, it’s expecting to see twice that number because of the bad economy.

And guess who’s funding those free clinics?

The government. In yet another article from The Wall Street Journal:

The centers are on track to handle more than 20 million patients this year, up by more than 2 million from last year and twice the figure of a decade ago, according to surveys by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

The no-frills centers receive block federal grants for much of their funds and pay medical staff a fixed salary, so they have little incentive to jack up costs with unnecessary care.

So, let’s see.

The private health insurance industry has failed millions of Americans.

A health care reform plan that includes a public option would give us the choice of whether to select the private sector or the public sector.

The concern over health care reform clearly can’t be about government involvement—the government already is massively involved in providing health care.

That means the only ones who really should fear government involvement in health care are the vested interests like the big health care insurers. What’s at stake for them is massive profits.

What’s at stake for consumers is our health—and lives.