That's the kind of headline that pisses off Republicans and their enablers. Comparing the good ol' USA with anything...ewwwwwww...European is barely short of treasonous. Of course, if they had an ounce of real pride in their country and compassion for their fellow Americans, they would be irked not by the headline but by its accuracy. What they have instead is an open spigot of cash from corporadoes keen on keeping a health-care system that costs more but delivers less than health-care systems in Europe and Canada.
(Source: Commonwealth Fund)
During 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance Survey
released last Tuesday, 52 million Americans—that's the total population of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands—had no health insurance in all or part of the year. In 2001, the number was 38 million. That's a 35 percent increase in a decade when the U.S. population rose only 10 percent. Not only did all the people in those six countries have health coverage, each of their health-care systems were rated better than America's. Bottom line: They cost less, provide more, cover everybody.
Unsurprisingly, one of the main reasons the number of uninsured soared to this record high is because the deep recession that put millions out of a job took their health coverage along with it. Nearly three of five who lost their jobs also wound up uninsured. And of those who lost job-based coverage, just 25 percent were able to find health insurance elsewhere. Only 14 percent kept themselves insured with COBRA, which allows people to continue individual coverage under their former employers' health plans. If they can pay for it. But most people without a job can't pay, even with the government's subsidy.
What that means is they're less likely to get a pap smear, have their blood pressure checked or fill prescriptions for chronic conditions. And it's not just the uninsured who don't do those things. Health care is so expensive that an estimated 75 million Americans skipped going to a doctor, filling prescriptions or otherwise getting treatment that they needed in 2009-2010. Ten years ago, that figure was 47 million.
So how did the uninsured who did seek care pay for it? With their savings or putting it on their credit cards or taking out a loan or second mortgage. The survey also found:
In 2010, 31 percent of adults who were insured all year spent 10 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs and premiums, up from 19 percent in 2001. This increase was driven by greater spending on both premiums and out-of-pocket costs. ...
Medical bill problems led people to make significant trade-offs, including using up all their savings, not being able to pay for necessities such as food, heat, or rent, incurring credit card debt, taking out a loan or mortgage against their home, or declaring bankruptcy. More than half (56%) or 41 million people with medical bill problems or debt reported making any one of these trade-offs.
Since the beginning of the recession, medical expenses have catapulted 4 million Americans into bankruptcy. The bleak statistics just go on and on.
"Obscene" is one of the milder words that comes to mind when describing the situation. But there's a smidgen of good news.
At a press conference announcing the Commonwealth Fund's report, President Karen Davis said: "The silver lining is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has already begun to bring relief to families. Once the new law is fully implemented, we can be confident that no future recession will have the power to strip so many Americans of their health security."
If the law is fully implemented, most of the 52 million who had no health insurance for part or all of last year won't find themselves in the same boat again. A big if since right-wing foes of the act are set on killing it outright or defunding it in whole or in part between now and when all its provisions become operative in 2014. And that's an attack on a reform that doesn't measure up to what citizens of other countries already have. While these right-wingers despise anything with even a whiff of the European, it's Americans they're making war on. Putting an end to that means severing ties between them and their paymasters. That is no short-term goal, and elections alone won't achieve it.
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james321 and Avenging Angel have written diaries on this subject.