The Strategist

Is it possible to overcome the US healthcare crisis?

06/08/2017 - 14:25

The US health system found itself in a deep crisis, which can be divided into three key sectors.

First, the current format of the health system is too expensive for most Americans. The situation is the worst for the poor. Frankly speaking, it is good only for the rich who can afford any kind of treatment. Thus, tens of millions of Americans, too young for Medicare, cannot afford private health insurance. Their lives depend on government-funded health services, but Republicans, by their abolition, are ready to throw them overboard in the name of saving budget funds.

Secondly, an unhealthy lifestyle, especially the cult of fast food. America has the highest rates of obesity in any other country, the reason of which is the use of fast food - chips, sugary drinks and over-calorie volume of meat. All this is killing Americans.

And finally, desperation that embraces the Americans against the background that increasingly households are losing income and jobs. As recent studies have shown, the death rate among the working class of white, non-Hispanic Americans has risen sharply recently. The main causes are neglected diseases associated with falling incomes, suicide, substance abuse, depression.

However, at the heart of all these three factors lies an even deeper problem: the corporate governance of the health system and policy in general.

The society is clamped in the grip of several powerful corporate lobbyists: pharmaceutical companies, suppliers in the healthcare system, insurers and fast food industry. Together, they contributed to development of unhealthy lifestyles and nutrition, all kinds of addictions, the super-high cost of health insurance and healthcare, which cuts off access to vital services. In the past, a person's income determined their lifeway; now it often determines whether you will live at all.

Add political influence of Wall Street and super-rich donors, and then we will get the full picture. Americans get what they pay for, or rather what they pay for super-rich donors and lobbyists: a health crisis that is conditioned by preferences of the medical industry, the food industry and the rich who pay low taxes.

The way out of the crisis

Wall Street has recently become a leading player in the health field, buying up pharmaceutical companies in order to inflate prices, and financing mergers of health care providers to strengthen its monopoly. The question is what to do next:


There are many ways to reduce costs and make health care insurance guaranteed to everyone. The Food and Drug Administration must take decisive action to open the way for a healthy competition of medicines, including imported medicines. Medicare, Medicaid and VA together should be able to negotiate drug prices, thereby putting an end to the misuse of the pharmaceutical industry.

One option is "per capita financing," which means that the provider in the health system receives a fixed payment per year for each patient, and thus there is an incentive to keep overall spending at a low level by preventing disease. However, per capita funding also requires accountability from a health care provider so that it does not cut costs by depriving patients of the necessary services.

Healthy nutrition for a healthy nation

To keep the problems of substance abuse and unhealthy nutrition under control, the government should restrain corporate mismanagement, which contributes to their development. Fast food has remained uncontrolled long enough.

American McDonalds, Wendy's, Subway, Coca-Cola, Pepsico and others should be responsible for the world's obesity epidemic. They are not simple observers in this catastrophe, they make decisions. The same goes for producers and sellers of opioids responsible for deaths of millions of Americans. Urgent massive cleansing is necessary to help the victims of the current epidemic.

Solving the problem of inequality

All this cannot last long. It is impossible prosper while experiencing such a deep stratification between the rich and the poor, as well as between a professional class with a higher education and a working class with a secondary school certificate. The health crisis is closely interwoven with growing inequality. The rich get healthier, the working class and the poor die of despair.

Other countries are facing the same trend. Nevertheless, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden - all of them - counteract this inequality through public policy. Public health is financed from public revenues. Vacation, rest, maternity leave, sick leave, and childcare are all provided by the state. How do they pay for it? At the expense of tax revenues.

Thus, the main solution to the crisis in the healthcare system is to learn how to control costs, stimulate corporate responsibility and reduce irreplaceable and growing inequality in American society.


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