A Change of Zeitgeist

Health Care: The final installment in a six part series covering health care systems around the world

Here we are, at the end of this series of articles, and at a possible major turning point in the American health care system.

I began this journey unbiased, somewhat apathetic and, in retrospect, inadequately informed. Through researching the health care systems of many other advanced nations, third world countries and reading T.R. Reid’s book “The Healing of America,” I have become both educated and passionate about the American health care dilemma.

The conclusion I came to is the one that most Americans would agree with; the health care system in our country needs to change. In my analysis though, I had a much more profound realization. If Americans are to change our ways and look out for our fellow citizens, there needs a change of mindset.

We have all heard the arguments, both rational and irrational and from both sides. The question to ask, though, is, “how do we live in a society?” Many citizens argue that individual liberty is the essence of our nation, but living in a society also means having a sense of those around us and interacting with one another in a manner that sustains the whole most effectively.

In Switzerland, for example, instead of holding the word “freedom” sacred like Americans do, they hold the word Solidaritat, or solidarity, close to their hearts. They understand that they have four different official languages, and to coexist like rational humans, they need to teach their children these languages in school. They live alongside each other speaking different languages but holding in common an appreciation for each other. This mindset of the common good is something that America sorely lacks.

In Switzerland, it also follows that they don’t see health care as a political issue, but a basic truth of modern life, just like a good school system or a good railway system. We are on the same lines with the former of these two by having them as public entities, but we lack in the latter.

The most basic, fundamental problem with the current system is where the economic interests lie. With for-profit insurance companies, these interests lie in not providing preventative care that is cheap, but waiting until a patient needs more serious surgery that is extremely expensive. In these other developed nations who have universal health care, they stress preventative care very much, and because they are not for profit, their interests lie in keeping patients healthy so that more expensive care, which will cost the system more, will not as often be necessary.

America can change. Though the task may be daunting and challenging, it is possible. Nations such as Taiwan and Switzerland have both had a major revamping in their health care industry, and after having non-systems or privatized systems, they both saw how badly they needed a universal system that does not leave a good number of citizens paying out of pocket, and is not for profit.

America spends more per GDP as it is than any other nation on health care; why not spend it more wisely and adopt a system that is similar to a Bismarck or Beveridge or a hybrid of them and cover more people by spending less. People will get the care that they need, and economic interests will lie in keeping people healthy, which is always a positive thing.

In writing this series of articles I have learned that many different options for health care reform exist and that reform is in the fiscal interests of both the American economy and its citizens. If this is to truly take place, citizens must get past partisan talking points and look at the numbers and morality behind this issue, and realize that reform can only stand to benefit both of these areas.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series, to view the rest of the articles, visit the links below:

  1. The Health Care Debate
  2. Health Care: The Bismarck Model
  3. The Beveridge Model of Health Care
  4. Health Care: The National Health Insurance Model
  5. Health Care: Out-of-Pocket