There is a reason that the United States spends 17% of our GDP on health care, when other developed nations spend dramatically less. It’s not because we have a higher quality of care. If anything, the opposite is true. Switzerland, for example, which has a per capita GDP comparable to ours, spends a mere 7% of it’s GDP on health care while providing among the best in the world to its citizens. Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom all provide universal health care while spending at less than half the rate that we do. We spend more, but we provide less. This is because we don’t have a health care system that allows people to seek affordable preventative care. It costs taxpayers more to pay for emergency treatment than to support high-quality preventative care for all Americans. We pay for it either way. Let’s be fiscally responsible and give Americans better care at the same time.
Republicans in Congress don’t seem to understand the way health care works. The House’s American Health Care Act and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act demonstrate a set of priorities so twisted and inhumane that it is hard to believe that they come from democratically elected officials. These bills rely on the idea that health care can function as a free market. In reality, since both supply and demand in health care are inelastic, the health care market is susceptible to massive market failure. Also, because the health care market is currently plagued by aggressive monopolies, a true competitive market is simply not feasible.
In my home state of California 2,483,000 people would lose access to health coverage if Republicans get their way. What do we get in return? A tax cut averaging $48,759 for 59,360 millionaires and billionaires in the state. For them, $48,759 doesn’t mean all that much. It might get invested or it might go towards a vacation, but it won’t be the difference between their children getting health care or not. The Republican vision of health care means taking insurance and access to affordable care away from more than 2 million Californians and more than 20 million Americans–all so they can give people who don’t need it a tax break.
Despite these staggering and often heartbreaking numbers Congressional Republicans do not seem to understand the gravity of what they’re trying to do. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have to worry about health coverage for themselves or their families. Their excellent health care is paid for by us, the taxpayers. No member of Congress should have better health care than the least of our citizens. Our representatives work for us, but many of them act like they are working for themselves and those who fund their campaigns.
We as a nation cannot afford a Congress that not only allows but advocates for ripping health coverage away from their constituents. A sick population diminishes our productivity, our tax base, and our strength as a nation. If every American had access to health care, we would have stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America.