one half to
much per capita
as we do and
outcomes at least
as good as ours
America does not
need more money
for health care.
We need a better
–Dr. Henry Simmons
Health and wholeness are moral and ethical issues that go far beyond economics and delivery of services. But the debate in this country bogs down in these two areas. Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times says entrenched interests have kept the current inefficiencies in the U.S. health care system because they profit from the present conditions. He also says this makes it enormously difficult to change.
On the face of it, the current system is broken and must be repaired. You don’t have to be an expert analyst to know this. Everyone one of us who has come up against the health care delivery system has experienced it. That’s why it’s so important. It’s a day-to-day part of our lives.
No one lives without coming into contact with it, and its problems. Therefore, it affects us in fundamental ways–our dignity, our use of resources, our sense of wholeness, our relationships, our ability to live a life of quality. We should have a system that includes everyone, and it should be carried out fairly and equitably. That’s a theological issue. It’s about justice. Justice is an expression of faith.
The National Coalition for Health Care offers these facts that, it seems to me, pertain to justice and the wholeness of life:
- The number of uninsured rose by 1.4 million people between 2002 and 2003.
- Approximately 45 million Americans, or 15.6 percent of the population, had no health insurance coverage in 2003.
- Young adults (aged 18 to 24) remained least likely of any group to have health insurance in 2001. More than 28 percent of adults in this age group lack health insurance coverage.
- Uninsured children face a higher risk of developmental delays than those with health coverage.
- Uninsured adults hospitalized for a traumatic injury are more than twice as likely to die in the hospital as insured adults — even after controlling for the severity of the injury.
- In 2001, the cost of medical care for uninsured Americans residents totaled $98.9 billion.
- The United States spends about $35 billion per year to provide uninsured residents with medical care, often for preventable diseases that could be treated more efficiently with earlier diagnosis.
- Americans spent 1.4 trillion dollars on health care in 2001.
- The United States spend a greater portion of the gross domestic product on health care than any other industrialized nation.
- Despite its high level of health care spending, the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan.
- Americans use about 3 billion prescriptions each year.
- On average, seniors spend about $2,300 on legal prescription drugs.
- More people die in a given year from medical errors than from automobile accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.
- Twenty-two percent of sick adults in America were sent for duplicate tests by different health care professionals in the last two years.
- In 2002, twelve percent of sick American adults reported receiving the wrong medication or dose by a hospital, doctor, or pharmacist in the last two years.
All “Did you know?” facts can be found under the “Facts About Health Care” section of the website of the National Coalition on Health Care .