The US Healthcare System is Killing Americans
Healthcare is one of the most controversial topics in the United States. It has consumed American politics for years and continues to divide opinion. Too much talk ends at the economic factors: how much does health care cost? How can it be more profitable? How would we get the money for a proposed universal system? The conversation needs to look past money and concentrate on the key issue of America’s healthcare problem: the people.
The fact that the debate about healthcare circles around expenses and the economy is not surprising; medicine is just another means of money-making in the US. However, to truly benefit the majority of Americans, the institution move away from a means of profiting to better means of helping. Our current privatized healthcare system consistently hurts US citizens.
Take diabetes, for example: the 1.25 million American living with type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition which causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin, rely on artificial insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Without this medication, they will die. Pharmaceutical companies have exploited this disease for profit. The price of short-acting insulin has risen 585% from 2001 to 2015- from $35 to $234 per vial- according to the American Diabetes Association. The price only continues to rise. Between 2012 and 2016, the price of insulin doubled.
Both with and without insurance, people can find themselves paying over $1,000 per month for insulin. Those who can’t afford the medication end up rationing it, eating less, and in too many cases, dying. While this problem may not pertain to many, it is only one example of a larger issue. One of the main reasons that people file for bankruptcy in this country is due to medical expenses. There are far too many horror stories of Americans dying because they can’t afford health care. Perhaps the biggest question that remains is “How do we let this happen?”
In America’s free market, capitalist society, there are no regulations on drug prices. There is nothing illegal about the 600% increase in insulin prices in 15 years, but this doesn’t make it acceptable. The upsurge in costs is a crime morally, and is literally killing Americans.
The healthcare system has strayed from focusing on the people to focusing on money. The current operation works more for profit and less for Americans’ wellbeing. It should not cost someone their whole paycheck to go to the emergency room. People should not have to pay bills for the rest of their lives after overcoming a life threatening condition. No one should have to compromise their usual way of life to be able to afford to stay healthy.
The US needs regulations on drug prices, and needs to do better to help all American have access to quality, affordable healthcare. There is no reason for someone to die so that a CEO can make more money. The law needs to benefit the wellbeing of the everyday person. The question should not be “How could we pay for this?” but rather “What can we do better for the people?”