Richardt Stormsgaard: A personal story
My wife was diagnosed with MS in her late 20s before we met. As a result of very expensive medical insurance we decided to do without. In 2013, I turned 65 and we became eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
In 2015, my PSA scores began to rise, and a biopsy indicated prostate cancer. In 2017, a second biopsy determined it needed to be treated. I finally opted to travel down to UCLA Medical Center to have stereotactic body radiation therapy, a two-week treatment program as opposed to the standard six-month treatment; with a 5% chance of recurrence as opposed to the 33% with the conventional hormone therapy and seven to eight weeks of daily radiation treatments. The radiation I received at UCLA is just one of many advanced treatments under our health-care system that may never become a main-stream treatment if funding of the health-care industry is dramatically slashed as Warren and Sanders propose.
Had I still lived in Denmark my cancer very likely would not been discovered until much later. PSAs are usually not ordered until the doctor determines that the prostate feels suspect; mine did not.
The U.S. health care is the most expensive in the world. It also provides the vast majority of Americans with advanced treatment options and higher success rates than those in other advanced countries. Most single-payer countries have pervasive and chronic problems with long waiting lists that cause many thousands to seek treatments at their private clinics that provide better and less costly treatment than the public hospitals.
While Americans want to spend less on health-care citizens in other countries are clamoring for higher health care budgets to eliminate long waiting lists and improve their medical treatments. Eighty-two percent of Americans are satisfied or very satisfied with the medical care they receive. In Denmark (second best in Europe just behind Switzerland) the number is only 56%.
Had Bernie Sanders been running in Canada or Denmark he would have been placed on a waiting list to wait his turn for weeks, perhaps months. Or he could have chosen much quicker treatment in a private clinic or hospital he wants to dismantle.
American doctors on the average earn 150% more than their colleagues around the world.
The U.S. has 4 out of 6 of the best hospitals in the world and most new medical procedures are developed here in the U.S. Many of the top medical doctors from around the world have spent time in American teaching hospitals. The American health care system is the driver of innovative procedures and techniques around the world.
The low rankings of U.S. health care is because many tens millions of Americans have no or very sporadic medical care, dragging U.S. average scores below that of comparable countries with higher rates of infant deaths, lower life expectancy, and more.
The flaws in our current health care system are not due to the existence of private insurance companies that in fact greatly subsidize overall U.S. health care. The Netherlands and Switzerland have private health insurance companies that are properly funded and regulated to assure everybody is covered. The problems with U.S. health-care are political and caused by decades of tax cuts compromising our social safety net and deregulation of agencies and industries inviting corporate abuse. The average Danish tax rate is 49%, in Canada it is 35%, in the US a paltry 25%, much of it to a bloated military.
Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar want to build on the ACA to achieve universal health care through the ACA as originally intended. Making purchase of health insurance mandatory like auto and home insurance, improving incentives to the 14 Republican states that blocked the medicaid extension to their residents, and establishing a public option for lower income Americans earning too much to qualify for the medicaid extension would enable the US to achieve high quality universal care for $200 billion/year (Peter Salins + LA Times).
The medicare-for-all debacle that Sanders and Warren advocate will cost a whopping $2,5 trillion/year according to the left-leaning Urban Institute. Even then it will force dramatic cuts to hospitals and doctors, severely impacting research and development of better treatments that benefit people in the US and worldwide.
How does correcting the very real problem of 10% of Americans having no health care today by reducing the excellent health care of the 90% at more than 12 times the cost necessary to attain universal health make sense?
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.
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