Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you almost certainly don't enjoy paying for health care costs -- there's nothing worse than getting that doctor bill, not knowing what it might contain. And while it would be nice to dedicate your life to maintaining a perfect, illness-free body and mind, with work weeks upwards of 50 hours and rising out-of-pocket health care expenses, it can feel impossible to find the time or money needed to invest in what some people call a "temple," others "the bag of bones that shuttles them to and from the office every day."
There's no good reason for it to be this way. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, the United States ranks 31st in life expectancy, below Greece, Portugal, and Slovenia. Slovenia, people, and Greece's economy is in shambles! America should support every effort you make to stay healthy, not ask you to turn over an arm and a leg every time a major health issue arises. Besides, prosthetics are expensive, too.
Who's going to pay for this free stuff?
Lest you think this is just a whining plea for the gubment to give you some free condoms (though, stay tuned) in exchange for crippling taxes and probably Communism and all the bad dance music that comes with it, consider the following:
The United States already spends way more per capita on health care than any other nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, even ones where income levels are similar -- like Switzerland, where they spend about $2,300 less per person, per year on health care. Switzerland has the second-highest life expectancy in the world, by the way.
"OK, but those other countries all have shitty public insurance, whereas America has private insurers paying for a lot of the costs." Well, America does spend a lot of money in the private sector on health, but even public spending per capita is third highest, behind Norway and the Netherlands. In short, your taxes are already funding a massive public health system, whether you realize it or not.
So where's that money going, and how can it be more effectively used? Those are huge questions that probably aren't going to be solved while reading on your phone, but one problem area is pharmaceuticals: America spends way more on them -- partially because we don't allow Medicare to negotiate prices -- than other countries with large public health systems. Instead, private insurers do the job, and they are, after all, for-profit companies that have the bottom line, rather than health outcomes, as the primary objective. Those profits are considerable -- even with insurers griping about losses they're taking by participating in Obamacare exchange plans, they're still doing OK, with UnitedHealthcare reporting profits (again, profits, not revenue) of just under $1billion in the third quarter of 2015. Imagine what could be done with just some of that money!
Even if you're not a fan of taking away or limiting profits in favor of investment in public health, policy changes within the current system could free up money. If Medicare, under its Part D program, were allowed to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, for example, a substantial amount of money could turn up, though the estimates vary -- safe to say that Donald Trump, who actually supports drug price negotiations, isn't quite on the mark with his $300 billion claim, but it's certainly in the billions. Medicaid, which is allowed to negotiate these prices, delivers drugs at 20% to 30% lower costs than Medicare.
The point is that we already have the money, and are spending it; if America could invest it in making key goods and services available for free, especially those geared toward prevention -- perhaps, given the USA's love of public-private partnerships, a contracting system similar to that of the Department of Defense could award, say, Durex or Trojan the right to make government condoms -- it just might lower longer-term costs of care, as you'll see in the first suggestion below. Here are a few places to start.