Opinion | Susan Knopf: To our health
For the Record
“COVID-19 is … shedding another bright light on a systemic problem that has been with us for a very long period of time.“ — Dr. Anthony Fauci
For the record, we Americans are just 4% of the global population, but according to Johns Hopkins University, we comprise 25% of global COVID-19 cases and 20% of global deaths. If we have the best medical system in the world, how is that possible?
“Our model of health care is not inclusive of everyone.” — Helen Royal, Summit Community Care Clinic CEO
“We have a ’high transmission rate due to health care system failures, lack of universal health care, early identification and access to health care.’” — Dr. Chris Ebert-Santos, Ebert Family Clinic
Conservative political forces, aligned with health care profiteers, tell us that our health care system is great. COVID-19 proves them wrong. The pandemic shines a bright light on the gaping holes that are making us all sick and killing the economy.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Resisting universal health care is making us sick and costing us money. We pay more for health care than any other nation. We must make health care available to everyone: people who don’t have proper immigration papers and people who can’t afford to pay the full cost of treatment.
We should care for everyone in our community. That’s a community good. More than that, universal health care has strong positive economic value.
Working people pay taxes. People too sick to work cost us money. Preventative medicine costs less than treating disease.
According to Royal, 40% of the Community Care Clinic’s patients have no health insurance. They are “service workers, front-line essential workers who are out there making this community run,” she said.
In other words, local businesses are outsourcing their employee expenses. We enjoy the benefit as lower prices at restaurants and shops.
But we pay.
“If (the Community Care Clinic) didn’t get help from our amazing donors, a lot of our patients wouldn’t get care,“ Royal said. ”We wouldn’t be able to provide the depth and breadth of services.“
Royal pointed out, “People aren’t trying to get a free ride. … They pay on a sliding scale based on federal poverty guidelines. People are happy to pay what they are able to pay.”
Brianne Snow, executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, agrees access is key.
“We need to look at health in a broader sense,“ she said. ”We need to look at social determinants of health.“
The American Medical Association agrees and has started a Center for Health Equity to examine the disparities in health care experienced by underserved people of all races and backgrounds.
Snow quoted Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
So let’s become unadjusted to what makes us all sick, harms our economy and makes a mockery of the values we hold dear. All three local leaders quoted in this column called our current health care system “broken.” We can fix it.
We can demand universal health care and still have private insurance, like England and Switzerland. The health care systems in those two countries are very different and yet similar because the private insurance option is preserved.
Snow said access is the most “fixable.“
After this pandemic, we will all share a collective sigh of relief. But we can’t rest. We must move forward and demand a more streamlined health care system that delivers health care to our people efficiently, effectively and affordably for all who live here.
We all have a vested interest in the health of our nation. We must press our case to our legislators and provide the legislative mandate that will give them the courage to move forward.
There is no need to wonder what to do. We have plenty of universal health care systems to look at to figure out which system will work best. We have every system found in the world right here: Veterans Affairs is a closed system, Medicaid is a fixed-price system and Medicare is a copay system with private insurance augmentation.
Our high COVID-19 case count and death toll tells us that our system doesn’t protect our health as well as other systems. Let’s stop debating obvious facts and demand change for our health.
Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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