More Nobel Prizes in physiology and medicine have been won by doctors or scientists working in the United States than the rest of the world. It is widely accepted that the best training and education is available in the United States in the field of medicine. Despite the fact that over $750 billion is spent on health care in the United States, more than 30 million Americans have no medical coverage and over 100 million are reportedly underinsured according to Nancy Watzman, of the Washington
Monthly. We spend 14 percent of our Gross National Product (GNP) on
health care each year, while our neighbors to the north, the Canadians, spend only nine percent of their GNP on the same but cover 100 percent
of their citizens. If the Canadians can manage to cover every one of their citizens, then we, The People, must find a way to do the same. We have one of two options; either we can spend billions of dollars inventing a new health care system for the United States, or we can be frugal and efficient by adopting the Canadian model of national health care and merely
customizing it to fit our own needs. And, although critics may decry the prudence of implementing a system based on socialized medicine, there
would be minimal to no sacrifice in coverage, cost, and quality of health care as compared to what little health coverage we have today.
If we model our system after the Canadians then this would mean all people share the same waiting rooms, the same doctors, the same equipment, and receive the same medical care. This also alleviates the
problem of some Americans receiving the best medical attention available in the world while others receive miserable attention or none at all. This idea of universal coverage sounds wonderful if you have no medical insurance currently, but it is unthinkable if you are accustomed to private
rooms in hospitals and hospital meals prepared by gourmet chefs. But if this is what you are accustomed to, you belong to a small minority of Americans. Only ten percent of Americans approve of our health care
system, while 56 percent of Canadians approve of theirs (Goodman 35). Perhaps the disgruntled 90 percent majority could also vote the right people into congress to change the health care system to provide universal coverage here in the United States.
We could not only provide universal coverage, but we could cover
everyone at a lower cost for health care than we are currently paying. It actually costs less to supply medical coverage for the average Canadian
than it does for the average American. A Canadian who earns the equivalent of $26,000 US dollars pays about $1,300 a year for medical coverage, while an American earning the same amount pays $2,500 per year according to Mark Kelly of the Chicago Tribune. And its not only the
citizens who would save money. The General Accounting Office estimates conservatively that at least $68 billion could be saved in paperwork costs alone if the United States switched to a national health plan. That amount itself would be enough to pay for all the uninsured
citizens in the United States with some money left over for lollipops for the kids.
It may be argued that these cost savings will come at the price of quality of patient care, but that is just another myth propagated by the American Medical Association, which is easily debunked by facts. If we take the $68 billion in administrative savings and subtract the estimated $12 billion it would cost to extend the same quality of care for the
uninsured as the currently insured are receiving, we are left with $56 billion to do with as we wish. Furthermore, how can we even begin to talk about a decline in patient care when the numbers of the uninsured are so staggering? If over 130 million U.S. citizens, or over half of the United
States population, are currently uninsured or underinsured and we provide them some kind of medical coverage, this in itself is a significant improvement in quality of care for these people. The fault lies with the doctors who are used to providing state of the art care for the
economically advantaged while ignoring the Hippocratic Oath they took so many years ago and refusing to treat those who cannot afford to pay for services of such caliber.
Lobbyists interests all too often overshadow the lip service initiatives shown by our representatives in congress towards health care reform. Even if we do not follow Canadas example to the tee, we are still better off taking the initiative to fix our inadequate health care system before it is
beyond fixable status. It is unthinkable that over half of the citizens of the United States are not covered by health insurance or are underinsured. We should not be looking to other countries for medical advice concerning our country, being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Yet, the dismally decaying state of health care in the United States leaves us no alternative but to fix this problem quickly. To do so, we must look to our northern neighbors for help in the form of a basic plan for universal health care. After all, if a national health care plan is less
expensive, provides health care for everyone, and the quality of health
care improves for over half our citizens, then converting our present system to a more socialized one is the only viable option we have. If something is sick, it needs to be treated to allow it to heal. Our health care system is beyond sick: it is dying and it needs major surgery to recover..
Watzman, Nancy. Socialized Medicine Now-Without the Wait The Washington Monthly
Goodman, John C. An Expensive Way to Die National Review 16 April 1996: 34-38
Kelly, Mark. A Doctor a Day Chicago Tribune 19 Jan. 1996: D18
Allen, Paulette Hospitals in the Hot Seat Daily Herald 23 March 1995: C12
Larry Churchill Self-Interest and Universal Health Care: Why Well-Insured Americans
Should Support Coverage for Everyone. Harvard University Press, 1994.