Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Highway To Health

The resurgence of the health care reform debate in Congress has exposed unfortunate truths that no amount of partisan posturing can ameliorate. Primarily, the immense influence-purchasing power of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. The force is strong with them, HMO-Bi-Wan. But it's become a comedy cloaked in tragedy. When it comes to protecting overseas corporate tax shelters or unrepentantly forking over more bailout funds for companies "too big to fail", we're reminded by our elected officials that the corporations must be able to compete in a global economy. True enough. However, that same focus on international community conveniently dissipates like a fart in a sandstorm at the suggestion that we look to the members of that global economy for guidance on creating a more equitable health care system. Why would we want to learn from a country like Sweden? That's almost French! Except that Sweden is one of many nations spending far less of their GDP on health care and providing much better coverage to their citizens. To be fair, Sweden is a much smaller country than ours and single-payer coverage has its own pitfalls. But the fact remains that the United States spends 19% of its GDP on health care and is still ranked 37th worldwide. Detractors of reform say that we have the best doctors and hospitals in the world. Faint praise if increasingly fewer people can afford access to them, despite paying increasingly more for "coverage". If a tree falls sick in the forest...

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