Claire and I posted a new song on the web site this weekend, and we hope you will check it out. It’s called The Do-Re-Mi Health Care Blues. Most of the words are original, but it is a take-off of Woody Guthrie’s song Do-Re-Mi. Woody’s song highlighted the plight of extremely hard-hit folks looking for work in the dust bowl days. They were actually blockaded from entering California by the State Police because they could not show they were financially sound. Our song uses a similar sentiment to draw attention to the Health Care crisis we are now facing in our nation.
Socialism? Maybe, but no more than any other democratized and capitalized country in the West . I’m in South Dakota this week, and the “health care scare” is full blown here. The media is saturated with ads selling propaganda that we can’t afford health care reform now; or more time is needed to study the problem; or the government will make your health care decisions for you. The truth is we can’t afford not to implement an equitable system now that will cover everyone. There are options for an improved system that can lower costs and provide the level of care those of us fortunate enough to have insurance are accustomed to.
Frontline, the PBS documentary series, recently aired a show entitled “Sick Around the World” which I would recommend to everyone. T.R. Reid travels to five countries, interviewing health care workers and politicians about the health care system in their country; how it works, how effective it is, and how it is paid for. If you can’t locate the show on the air (channel 9 in Seattle area) you can watch it in its entirety at PBS.ORG on your computer. There you can also find a summary of the health care systems of the United Kingdom, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and Switzerland as presented in the documentary.
Like most of the western world, the countries in the documentary have universal coverage – not only affordable, but available to everyone. All provide health care at a lower cost, and a much lower percentage of their gross domestic product than our government. Two countries (Taiwan and Switzerland) passed universal coverage only 20 years ago while our politicians were fighting change with a vengeance. Switzerland has the second most costly system on the planet, but it doesn’t come near the cost in our homeland. They even sell their drugs here to boost their profit margin.
This is not magic if other countries are doing it. Taiwan started by looking world wide at what other counties are doing. Our health care model was one of the first discarded in their search. What has our government done since 1984 to improve access to health-care and control spiraling costs? Not much. It appears the Contract on America was a Contract on Health Care as well.
The UK has a single payer system where health care is paid for and provided by the government through taxes. Insurance companies in the other countries are heavily regulated. In Germany and Switzerland no profits are allowed on basic health care. Our insurance companies don’t want regulations, nor do they want the competition from a public option. They pocket a third of the premiums, and the rising cost of care only increases their take.
Thank you for reading to the bottom of this blog. I only hope you still have the energy to click on the “Songs” page and listen to The Do-Re-Mi Health Care Blues.