Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
It's a day we all remember in American and world history because of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the immediate escalation of World War II following that day. On December 7, 1941, 2,402 people were killed and 1,282 were injured. The US casualties during World War II exceeded 418,000 people (more than 60 million worldwide). That's a pretty horrific amount of death over the four-five year period of that deadly global conflict.
I cannot help but think of the number of health care casualties we experience in the US every year without pressing for an end to the suffering. We allow 45,000 dead every year due to a lack of coverage or cash that would have allowed them to receive appropriate care; and we allow more than 700,000 to go broke due to medical crisis and debt. That's a death toll and injury toll worthy of a declaration of war, I think.
Just because we don't see the bombs dropped in people's lives all over the country when they get sick or hurt and cannot afford care doesn't mean the injuries and killings aren't happening. Most Americans just aren't seeing the suffering up close enough to be appalled and to take action. It seems to me that one of the challenges those of us who support Medicare for all for life face is in making more people more aware so the casualties of the health care war cannot be ignored.
What did FDR say once about "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?" well, that's just not true in the US health care system. Fear isn't killing sick and hurt people who don't have money or insurance -- greed is killing them. And until we remove the intense profit motivation within the US health care system, we will continue to see casualties equal to 20 Pearl Harbor attacks every year. And that means we have to be willing to do what is necessary to put an end to these horrible attacks of greed and deliver a single standard of high quality care without financial barrier to all.
I wish we could say that the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare would put an end to this health care death march but it cannot do so because too many people will still be uninsured all together and many more will find themselves inadequately covered by plans that offer lower premiums but still don't cover enough when a serious injury or illness strikes. We must do better, and we must provide health care as a human right to all.
December 7, 2013 -- Today's count of the health care dead and broke for profit in the U.S.:
The 2013, to date, U.S. medical-financial-
industrial -complex system dead: 42,340
The 2013, to date, U.S. health care system bankrupt: 669,610
** These figures are calculated based on the Harvard University studies on excess deaths in the U.S. due to lack of insurance coverage or the ability to pay for needed health care, and the Harvard University study that calculated the high percentage of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical crisis and debt in the U.S. 123 people die daily due to lack of coverage or cash to pay for care; 1,978 go bankrupt every day due to medical crisis and debt though the majority had insurance at the time their illness or injury occurred. This statistic is also based on the 1.2 million bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and calculating those medically-related bankruptcies from that number.http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/endorse_right_to_health_care alway th
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