Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Is health care really so different than education?

By Chris Russell

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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 [email protected]


7 Responses to “Is health care really so different than education?”

  1. Zack on October 23rd, 2009 12:16 am

    Where to start on this piece of fiction. Well lets start with why comparing education and health care cannot work. No one is required to go to college, and in fact many people choose not to go to college. Private colleges are not punished by the government and public colleges, yet private insurers and businesses would be punished by the public option. You claim france is a great success story, yet they spend 52% of their country’s GDP on health care. Budget analysts have them on track to have their credit rating lowered and be potentially bankrupt by 2027.
    Although I’m sure you have never looked at it from a small business perspective, lets stop and think about what the current bills would do to our businesses. Currently employers are required to cover certain percentages of health care costs for their workers and workers families. In Florida many businesses currently cover 75% of costs for employees and 66% of costs for employees family’s. If one of the bills passes with a public option it will increase the requirements of small businesses from 75% for employees to 85% and from 66% for Family’s to 75%. This increase will push all businesses to dump their employees onto the public option, thus overloading the system and bankrupting our country.
    Surely there needs to be health reform but to keep spitting out the worthless WHO statistics to back up a public option is a joke. This country was not founded on hand-outs, rather it was founded on individual hard work, determination, and opportunity. As this country drifts further away from a land of the free and draws closer to sure disaster I can only think sadly how we have forgotten the message of freedom that was left to us by Ronald Reagan at his farewell address in January, 1989.

    “And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing. The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.
    I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.”
    -President Reagan


  2. Zack on October 23rd, 2009 12:22 am

    The other issue I have with your clear partisan “argument” is that you fail to realize who will ultimately benefit from the government having more control over our healthcare system. The biggest insurance companies will benefit. Thats why they have supported the reform, just as Philip Morris always supports regulation on cigarettes. By giving the government more power for oversight and regulation, and taking that power away from the free market and its people you only allow for corruption and big business lobbying. If gov’t controls health care then companies like AETNA and others will be able to effectively shape legislation to drive other companies out of business, this happens every time some part of the market is regulated, and yet liberals claim that republicans are the party of big business. It simply is not true, if anything the Democrats desire for government power only allows the ultra large companies to more effectively crush their competition and perform monopolistic practices.


  3. Zack on October 23rd, 2009 12:26 am

    I also would hardly applaud public education! Countless tax-payer dollars are wasted as massive teachers unions and inept school administrations fail to provide what even the most basic charter schools can provide. Utah spends the least of any state on its public education and New York spends the most, yet Utah beats NY in 2 out of 4 testing areas and loses by 1 point in the other 2. We have the federal dept of education and each state has its own, often times clashing with each other and wasting money in the process. Having gone to a private university for 2 years and watching how well run the institution was, as well as having studied the great results that charter schools provide, it is an easy conclusion for me to make that public education has failed our country, and failed our students.


  4. Dan on October 23rd, 2009 4:42 pm

    Thanks Chris, this article should help put the healthcare debate in perspective. The government exists to serve the people, and should always aspire to new heights. A nation whose people are healthy is a nation whose people are free to pursue happiness unburdened by hardships. What some people don’t understand is that lack of health coverage is a cancer on a population – sickness spreads and worsens unchecked. This disproportionately effects the economically disadvantaged, destroying their already-slim chance at “The American Dream.” The rationalizations of opponents to healthcare reform are transparent attempts to maintain the status quo.


  5. Alex on October 25th, 2009 8:38 pm

    Dear Zack,

    It’s really remarkable how you can whip together what seems to be a logically inclined argument when you get to completely ignore reality and call up statistics from some magical faerie realm. France’s healthcare eats up about 11% of it’s GDP, not the ludicrous 52% you seem to have dug up on some conspiracy theorist’s geocities website. While yes, 11% seems like quite a bit, it’s still a good chunk smaller (68.8% smaller in fact) then the 16% of GDP that the U.S. spends on healthcare.

    See here comes the important part, these values all are coming from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a free market loving international organization (of which the U.S. is a member) that collects data and organizes it just to make it a little more difficult for anyone to spout meaningless statistics at random. Here’s there website ( and so that you don’t have to do that difficult task known as research here’s the actual location of the excel file that lists most of their up to date statistics (,3343,en_2649_34631_2085200_1_1_1_1,00.html).

    I must also applaud you for your ability to make what is a somewhat involved issue seem quite simple. As you so eloquently put it, health insurance companies are in fact quite eager for healthcare reform to take place. The point you so blatantly ignored however is that they are pushing for healthcare reform of an entirely stripped down sort where the only major change would be mandatory enrollment which would swell health insurance company coffers with premiums from new members. These companies are however are in complete opposition to any kind of public option because it would represent a form of actual competition not currently seen in today’s system where 1-2 companies hold regional monopolies in the vast majority of the U.S. .

    As for your general abhorrence of market regulation, let’s just point out how beautifully it’s worked out in terms of preventing the market crashes in the later 1920’s and the current recession we find ourselves in. More to the point however, our nation has found it fit that in certain cases where it serves the general good of the public, as in the case of fire and police services, the free market fails. I don’t know about you but I feel a lot safer knowing we have a competent police department protecting this campus as opposed to a an everyman for himself philosophy. If we all hired our own trigger happy blackwater guards for protections I think we’d be a little worse off.



  6. Alex on October 25th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Quick correction of wording for clearity, France’s percent spending of gdp on healthcare is 68.8% of the U.S.’s spending of GDP on healthcare.


  7. Michael Foley on October 27th, 2009 9:33 pm

    Nonsense, Zack.

    Reagan’s quote of Winthrop’s sermon has nothing to do with ‘freedom’ or similar rot. Read his actual sermon. Pay attention to these – unquoted by Reagan – lines:

    “We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body.”


    America is still a City Upon a Hill. And the worlds’ eyes are still upon it. And when they see what we do in this country, so aptly described by Isaiah:

    “… deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

    then Winthrop’s sermon is best understood in its original intent – as a cry for righteousness and goodness, as recorded in the Christian and Jewish Scriptures, not the self-serving, self-glorification nonsense that Reagan, always the deceiver, trotted out.


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