Is health care really so different than education?
Remember searching for colleges in high school? You probably weighed many options, likely a mix of public and private institutions, but settled on the University of Massachusetts because it provides a great value for a reasonable price.
You were undoubtedly appreciative that Massachusetts provided you with public options to choose from, as private colleges would bankrupt most lower and middle class families. You were never admonished as a “socialist” by family or friends for choosing this public option. Many probably lauded your decision as prudent and practical, especially in a time of financial uncertainty. Your friends who attend private colleges do not hate you for choosing UMass, as your publicly funded education is no threat to their private one.
Why should health care be so different from education? Why is the option of subsidized education applauded, while the option of subsidized health care is branded as “un-American?”
Consider what the college search would be like if it resembled America’s current health care system. The affluent would automatically attend elite institutions, no matter how much they needed or deserved the education, while low-income families and the elderly would be eligible for high-quality, government subsidized education.
The rest of the population would have it tougher. Middle class people without employer provided education would be limited to lower quality institutions, which would put severe restrictions on their education. For instance, these colleges would go to great lengths to drop students who developed serious physical or learning disabilities that made it costlier to provide them an education; making money would be the primary focus, not to educate the populace.
In the U.S., 46 million working poor and destitute individuals would be ineligible for higher education, as they could not afford private plans, and would for some reason be undeserving of the public option. Anyone with a pre-existing disability would also find it extremely hard to find quality education coverage in the first place.
Fortunately for college students, America’s higher education system is slightly more enlightened than its health care system (in most of Europe, public colleges are free, but that’s another story).
Unfortunately for the 46 million without health insurance, they live in America, one of the only modern countries that do not consider universal health care a moral imperative. The consequences of this embarrassingly low level of care? Every year, 45,000 people die from not having insurance. According to the American Journal of Public Health, this computes to about one death every 12 minutes.
The reasons Republicans give for opposing measures to save these lives is even more embarrassing. Meghan McCain, daughter of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, said she didn’t want America to “go bankrupt” over health care reform when she spoke at UMass recently.
Republicans sure have strange priorities. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich will cost $2.5 trillion from 2001 to 2010, according to the research advocacy group, Citizens for Tax Justice. Just 52.5 percent of the benefits will go to the richest five percent of taxpayers.
Apparently, McCain would rather enjoy a tax cut than save thousands of lives, considering the Congressional Budget Office projects it would cost $1 trillion to institute health care reform from 2010 to 2019.
Give the girl a break. Growing up in eight homes makes one accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and if others are unable to emulate that lifestyle, then tough luck.
“I don’t know what’s its like to be someone who has to go into the hospital and not have health care,” she said during a recent talk at Bowker Auditorium. “I just am so concerned about the spending.”
Yet, Republicans supported the necessary spending for two wars while simultaneously cutting taxes for the rich. Apparently, only Democratic presidents should be fiscally conservative, while Republicans are allowed to cut taxes for the wealthy and spend billions.
Republicans claim it would cost too much to save 45,000 lives a year. Yet, they spend more than twice that much making the rich richer and molding the world to fit America’s will. Like I said, weird priorities.
Even with such hypocrisy, Republicans have high jacked the health care debate through fear mongering. Most Americans are happy with their health insurance, and thus are wary of any substantial reform, making it easy to attack the various proposals currently in Congress.
For example, on Oct. 8, Fox News’ Sean Hannity criticized the proposed public option, which would cover almost all of the currently uninsured. “Everywhere socialized medicine has been tried, it’s failed. It ends up in rationing … it ends up bankrupting the country,” he claimed.
Interesting analysis considering France, which has “socialized medicine,” also has the world’s best health care system, according to a 2000 report by the World Health Organization. America ranked 37th in quality of care, but still spent the most of any country.
Universal health care is not only morally obligatory, but a good investment. A public option would force private insurers to contain premium costs, which have increased 119 percent in the last decade.
Who should the government work for: businesses or the people? Public universities work for the people, as the government gives those unable to afford private colleges a chance to become entrepreneurs, doctors and teachers.
Education is not a commodity to be sold without regulation in the free market, but a right the government ensures a large part of. The government does not provide a similar assurance for health care – it would hurt “competition” – and thus works for the interest of insurance companies over the interests of the people. You live in a country where companies make money by dropping the health care coverage of sick people. Do you support that?
Chris Russell is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.