Capitalism is bad for your health

Study: US health poor compared to other countries

In the United States, healthcare is a commodity.

Health care profiteering and class divides were identified as key reasons for a poor health outlook in the United States, according to a recent report.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health commissioned an investigation by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine into health care looking at where people in the U.S. fare in relation to the rest of the globe. In the 400-plus-page study, U.S. health care was compared to Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and nearly a dozen other countries. Researchers revealed the U.S. was at the bottom of the list of the countries surveyed in nine areas, including longevity, infant mortality, AIDS, drug abuse, obesity, heart disease and lung disease.

The report notes the weak U.S. showing was due to a lack of health care coverage and relative poverty in the country. Unlike many Western countries, the U.S. has no national health care system. The dominance of private health insurance companies, lack of public options when people become sick and the many unhealthy lifestyle choices marketed by big business are all factors.

Prominent in the report is the fact that the group showing the greatest divide between the “peer” countries and the United States is young people. Deaths that occur before age 50 are responsible for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and the other countries. Among young women, the divide is even greater and increasing at the fastest rate over the past three decades. Also, newborn babies in the United States are much more likely to die before reaching twelve months than in any other of the countries in the study.

Greed has motivated so much of the health care debate today. Although the report notes the U.S. spends more money per person than any country on health care, those funds often end up in the pockets of insurance companies, big pharmaceutical businesses and a layer of profiteers who provide little to no actual health service. What's worse, such agencies have for years denied coverage for so-called pre-existing conditions and other reasons. As a result, the money spent by the average person paying their health care premiums is often not going to preventative care or enhancing the health needs of families, but to increase wealthy companies' bottom lines or, worse, lobbying to protect corporate agendas.

Add to this a growing gap between rich and poor, the study says, and the reasons for shorter lives and worsening health should be quite clear.

Investigators say the U.S. should study the systems in other countries to find solutions for the crisis facing the country. Given how hostile corporations have been to reforms, and politicians' willingness to do their bidding, such changes are unlikely under the current system. A socialist response treats health care for all as a right.

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