With the recent economic crisis looming, one thing is fairly certain: the U.S. will not be doing anything to deal with our dismal system of health care coverage anytime soon. Just a quick listen to the two candidates spouting the same vague platitudes about tax credits or patchwork insurance solutions is one indication. Another is a recent poll here in Rochester that ranks health care issues very low on the list of voter concerns this fall.
The two parties continue to refuse to take on the insurance conglomerates which perpetuate our inequities, and fail to address government solutions, lest they fall prey to being tarred with the “s” word. Meanwhile the rolls of uninsured and underinsured continue to rise, and the Blues are predicting yet another double-digit rate increase for 2009.
A recent Medscape post from George Lundberg, MD reports that America ranked dead last of 17 developed countries in a recent assessment of overall health outcomes, a result felt to be due in part to our lack of universal coverage. Of course, universal coverage would require some adjustment in our culture of “a pill for every symptom”, our tendency to avoid serious cost controls on diagnoses and drugs, and our refusal to embrace low cost and preventive alternatives to high tech intervention.
There continue to be “two Americas”, and health care continues to be a privilege that millions cannot afford. This can’t end well.