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Healthcare is the most important issue of concern to Americans today. In an exit poll conducted by the Cable News Network (CNN) during the mid-term elections, 41% of respondents voted for healthcare as the “most important issue facing the country”. Immigration, economy and gun policy received 23%, 21% and 11% of the poll respectively.
This was six weeks after Mr Ban Ki-Moon, immediate past Secretary General of the United Nations denounced the United States healthcare system as politically and morally wrong. He went a step further to call for a publicly financed healthcare system as a fundamental human right in the country.
The United State’s health system is the most expensive in the world. Expenditure costs over $10,348 per capita. At $3.2 trillion per annum, this accounts for 17.8% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). But it is also probably the most inefficient amongst high-income countries.
At far less cost, the publicly funded British National Health Service (NHS) for example, provides free quality healthcare for all at the point of delivery. Meanwhile, despite the vast amount of monies sunken into the system in the US, almost 30 million people are not covered by health insurance, leaving them vulnerable to catastrophic health expenditure. These include an additional 4 million people who have lost their health coverage since President Trump was elected.
Vested private interests are the primary beneficiaries of this health system which perpetuates health inequity. These are big pharmaceutical corporations, health insurance companies and chains of health clinics. Their profit comes first before the good health and well-being of American people.
Americans are sending home a clear message to policy-makers, now: enough is enough. Realisation of the right to health is not negotiable. People’s health must be placed over profit for a handful of the super-rich who own the health corporations and determine the pace of service delivery. Universal public healthcare is not only possible but necessary to ensure a fairer and more just USA.
PSI affiliates continue to lend their voices to the need for overhauling the health system in the interest of the American people. They are part of the movement spreading across the fifty US states demanding qualitative health for all, as a fundamental human right.
This demand is not going to go away until it is heeded. The movement will not abate until the right thing is done. The American people want better health for all. United, as trade unions, civic organisations, community-based associations and the electorate, we will win.