I’ve had a good week so far and it has gotten even better. While I’m not an American, the passing of the Healthcare Bill in the US House of Representatives is something that gives me a warm feeling inside.
Last year I happened to meet a young American college student who will love the news she’s hearing from Capitol Hill.
For you see, she didn’t have medical insurance and if she got really sick she might have bankrupted her family. In 62 percent of all personal bankruptcy in the United States, medical debt was cited as a factor, the biggest single factor of all.
While I had always known that there were some American who slipped through the cracks of the medical system but I had always assumed that those people were largely poor, uneducated and, forgive me for this, African American.
This lady could afford to travel to Africa, so I assume she wasn’t dirty poor. She was a college student studying nursing and she was a brunette with quite a nice tan despite her lack of melanin. She wasn’t the poster child of the uninsured American underclass, but she was uninsured nevertheless.
Its quite strange meeting someone who isn’t insured, I had long conversation about the issue and the saddest thing was the way she shrugged her shoulders and hoped not to fall sick.
While I am somewhat biased where universal healthcare is concerned, I decided to read some Republican literature to get a proper understanding of the entire debate.
The debate over health care reform in the United States centers on questions about whether there is a fundamental right to health care, who should have access to health care and under what circumstances, on the quality achieved for the high sums spent, the sustainability of expenditures that have been rising faster than the level of general inflation and the growth in the economy and the role of the federal government in providing health care.
The United States spends a greater portion of total yearly income in the nation on health care than any United Nations member state except East Timor for although the actual use of health care services in the U.S., by most measures of health services use, is below the median among the world's developed countries.
According to the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academies, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that did not ensure that all citizens have coverage". Even Rwanda, with the Mutuelle de Sante system, gives its citizens coverage.
The American hospital system was a strange animal. For example, hospitals were legally obligated to receive emergency patients but as soon as the emergency was over (or if the bleeding was slightly under control) the patient would be kicked out of the emergency room if they didn’t have insurance.
Insurance is a big deal; if you don’t have it and you get ill, you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Have you ever heard of ‘pre-existing conditions’? Probably not.
When I got my RAMA card, all I had to do was write my name, my marital status and get my employers signature. And that was it. And as soon as it was stamped by the good folks at RAMA I was insured medically. No fuss and no stress.
In the ‘Land of the free and home of the brave’, it isn’t that simple. If you were asking for insurance and you had, for example, high blood pressure, the insurance company could deny you coverage or made the insurance premium so high that you couldn’t afford it. This Healthcare Bill makes this practice illegal.
It’s strange that people can allow this kind of situation to occur, but I guess that is what happens when the individual overrides the collective.
I think that the biggest issue in the whole healthcare debate was whether the ‘haves’ (the wealthier, who had medical insurance) had an obligation to support the ‘have-nots’.
The ‘haves’, who constitute 85% of the American population, would have to support the 15%, if universal healthcare was to be possible.
The debate was all about mans inherent selfishness. Shall we live in a rat race, where it is every man for himself; or are we to be more enlightened and gracious than that? Do we, as citizens, have an obligation to the poor and the less fortunate than? Sure we do. That is what I like to call ‘civilization’.
I do not find a nation that ignores the less fortunate one that I want to live in. We are all linked in a very fundamental manner that cannot be quantified.
With the signing of this Bill, the United States has joined the commonwealth of civilized nations; it’s been too long.