The US health system disaster

July 24, 2002


The US-style deregulated health-care system, with no universal guarantee of care, is what awaits Australia if the federal government has its way. That would be a disaster.

Despite it’s so-called “efficient” system of managed care, in which private health corporations provide a “comprehensive” service to insurance companies’ clients, the US spends twice as much per person on health as does Australia. This is despite one in five people — a total of 50 million — having no health insurance cover. Another 60 million are under-insured.

Twenty per cent of New York’s children have no insurance — and hospitals will not treat them. In many cases, even children with insurance have been denied treatment at a hospital because they had no identification on them to prove it.

Personal health problems are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the US.

Those who get treatment are short-changed because the objective of private companies is to boost profits by cutting costs. As a result, treatment is second-rate. One medical firm in 1997 glibly announced that a masectomy was a “day procedure" — recommending oral pain killers and the training of family members to drain blood from the wound.

Members of many US insurance schemes must get their fund’s approval before they visit an emergency ward. They must describe their symptoms over the phone to a bean-counter who decides if the company will pay for medical attention!

From Green Left Weekly, July 24, 2002.
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